BBC Two announces Andrew Haigh to write and direct The North Water

The novel by Ian McGuire is a darkly brilliant piece of work, propelled by a vision of the world that is both beautiful and brutal. It feels bracingly modern and is piercingly perceptive about the nature of what drives us all.Andrew Haigh
Date: 04.10.2017     Last updated: 04.10.2017 at 11.00
Award-winning writer and director Andrew Haigh (Lean On Pete, 45 Years, Weekend) will adapt and direct The North Water, based on the critically acclaimed novel from Ian McGuire, and produced by See-Saw Films for BBC Two.

The five part thriller has been commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two.

Set in Hull and the ice floes of the Arctic in the late 1850s, The North Water tells the story of Patrick Sumner, a disgraced ex-army surgeon who signs up as ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition to the Arctic. On board he meets Henry Drax, the harpooner, a brutish killer whose amorality has been shaped to fit the harshness of his world. Hoping to escape the horrors of his past, Sumner finds himself on an ill-fated journey with a murderous psychopath. In search of redemption, his story becomes a harsh struggle for survival in the Arctic wasteland.

Andrew Haigh, says: “The novel by Ian McGuire is a darkly brilliant piece of work, propelled by a vision of the world that is both beautiful and brutal. It feels bracingly modern and is piercingly perceptive about the nature of what drives us all. I feel incredibly lucky to be given the chance to bring this story to the screen and very privileged to be doing so with the BBC.”

This gripping and original story of murder, mystery and survival has topped critic’s lists around the world and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and named A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice.

Jamie Laurenson and Hakan Kousetta, See-Saw Films, say: “The combination of an incredibly gripping novel, a brilliantly gifted writer director in Andrew Haigh and a Channel as bold as BBC Two is amazing. We can’t wait to get going.”

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says: “The Arctic wastelands are the perfect backdrop against which to tell the unflinching story of a doomed whaling mission. The drama which unfolds between the survivors of The Volunteer, as they find themselves pitted against each other, has clear resonance for our times. Drama on BBC Two is all about powerful stories in extraordinary worlds - and we are thrilled to be working with a writer director of Andrew Haigh's huge class and calibre to bring this story to life.”

Director, writer and producer Andrew Haigh shot to international acclaim following his heart-wrenching portrait of married life in the Academy Award nominated 45 Years. Adapted and directed by Haigh, the film premiered in Competition at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival where stars Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay won Silver Bears for their performances. 45 Years received numerous awards and nominations including an Academy Award nomination for Charlotte Rampling and a BAFTA nomination for Best British Film. Haigh’s other credits include the breakout hit Weekend (2011) and HBO TV series Looking. Andrew’s latest film Lean on Pete has just debuted at Venice, Telluride and Toronto, and Charlie Plummer received the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actor or Actress.

The North Water 5x60’ has been commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two. It will be executive produced by Jamie Laurenson and Hakan Kousetta, alongside Iain Canning and Emile Sherman for See-Saw Films, and Lucy Richer for the BBC. Filming will begin in Summer 2018.

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