Where new BBC Two drama The North Water about Hull whaling ship was filmed

The North Water mystery drama series hits the UK small screen this week after receiving rave reviews from US audiences.

The tale of a doomed voyage by the fictional Hull whaler The Volunteer, with its star-studded cast, will have eagle-eyed viewers from the city closely following the four-part BBC Two series to see if they can spot any local landmarks.

Scenes have been shot as far north as Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, and the 81st parallel – reportedly the furthest north any TV drama crew has ever filmed.

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And from Budapest to Basingstoke, it seems The North Water crew have been busy filming episodes.

Shooting was apparently also due to have taken place in Iqaluit in northern Canada, but because of the pandemic, plans switched to studio filming instead.

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Henry Drax (Colin Farrell)
The character Henry Drax is played by Colin Farrell in the all-star cast

Early scenes for The North Water, written and directed by Andrew Haigh, were first shot in autumn 2019.

The story follows disgraced army surgeon Patrick Sumner, played by Jack O’Connell and his journey aboard a whaling ship alongside a brutish harpooner named Henry Drax, played by Colin Farrell.

While on location, O’Connell and his co-stars stayed for four weeks on board a three-masted schooner, The Activ, built in Denmark, which stood in for their characters’ fictional vessel.

Principal photography on the first season of The North Water began on September 14, 2019, and wrapped up on September 24, 2020, according to thecinemaholic.com

The series was shot on location and on sets in Hungary, Norway, Canada, and England, with Budapest, being one of the first locations the cast and crew visited.

Basingstoke, in Hampshire, was reportedly one of the final destinations the cast and crew visited for filming, a far cry from the pack ice of the Arctic wasteland

The North Water is an adaptation of Hull-born author Ian McGuire’s acclaimed novel of the same name, which was long-listed for the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2016 when it was also named by the New York Times as one of the top ten books of the year.

The story is being brought to the small screen by See-Saw Films for BBC Two in a new four-part series.



Patrick Sumner (Jack O'Connell)
Jack O’Connell plays disgraced army surgeon Patrick Sumner

The North Water premieres on BBC Two at 9.30pm on Friday, September 10 in the first of three hour-long episodes – the finale will run to 90 minutes.

Line of Duty star Stephen Graham, who plays the Volunteer’s captain Brownlee, said: “Filming on the ship was an incredible experience and one that I will never forget.”

During the early 19th century, Hull’s fleet made up about 40 per cent of the British whaling fleet. However, the city does not appear to have been used as a backdrop for the telling of The North Water story.

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The whaling trade in Hull peaked around 1820 when 62 vessels returned with the produce from 688 whales worth approximately £250,000, according to Hull History Centre.

With the amount of trade coming through the city, manufacturing companies joined the rush. On South Street in Hull was Bateman and Bowman’s Whalebone Manufactory that produced all kinds of products ranging from sieves to sofa backings, in a variety of colours.

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