When two strangers discover a haul of illegal drugs on a washed-up boat, luck soon turns to misfortune as they become the targets of a vengeful mob boss, his hitman and the police.
At its heart, Boat Story is an action-thriller about two ordinary people whom the world has turned its back on, and whether they’re willing – or desperate enough – to do something crazy to get what they want in life. Pushed to the very edge, can they trust each other and get away with their lives and the money?
Boat Story embodies twists and turns with character-driven, surprising storytelling. Off-beat humour contrasts with high-octane action sequences against the spectacular backdrop of the beautiful, windswept Yorkshire coastline.
Boat Story comes to BBC One and BBC iPlayer from Sunday 19 November at 9pm
Jack & Harry Williams (Writers And Directors)
Where did the idea for Boat Story come from?
Harry Williams (HW): The idea for Boat Story came from having seen articles about similar things involving large amounts of drugs washing up on shores somewhere. Most of the shows we come up with are through a series of conversations that we have with each other. This one, was what would we do if we had stumbled across a boatload of washed-up drugs? We probably wouldn’t do what the characters did, which is try and sell them, but that would make for a less interesting series. Instead, we imagined what would happen should we have done such a thing.
Jack Williams (JW): A lot of our shows come from situations where we think ‘what would you do if…’ and they start at relatable places. As Harry said, it doesn’t end up in the most familiar place and I don’t think most people would do what our lead characters do. Boat Story is a contemporary morality tale and the challenge we wanted to set ourselves was to say, how do you tell this story in a way that is going to feel fresh, original, and different? What we landed upon, was to make it a show about stories themselves, and why people tell stories and why people watch and enjoy them. There’s a meta layer to the whole show as well.
What is your writing process when creating a show like this?
JW: When it comes to rewriting each other, we are quite aware that at some point, it’s going to come out on TV and hopefully millions of people watch it. At which point, they’re all going to have opinions and have a lot to say. If you can’t be a bit robust with each other, then what’s the point? We don’t ever really argue about writing or what goes in, it’s the best idea wins…which is usually mine. There’s no point just chipping off all the edges and making it something really bland.
HW: You get enough notes from everyone during the process anyway. So, the notes we give each other are almost the most important ones really.
How do you balance the thrilling and brutal elements of the story with the humour. How important is the humorous element to you?
HW: The humour and the violence were one of the first things we decided upon when we set the tone for the series. Our last show, The Tourist, had a similar thing where there was humour, violence, and emotion. We’re trying to blend all these different genres into the same show, which is not something we do in the UK, it’s more common in the US and it’s always a balancing act. We wanted Boat Story to push it even more, make the jokes sillier, the violence harder, the darkness darker and the lights to be lighter. It was always marrying those things up and pulling up and down the faders as and when you wanted it, to gel it all together. That was one of the things we were most conscious of when writing it and making it.
JW: We’ve talked about it being a Tarantino in the north, which is a lofty touchstone but sometimes it helps to talk about those things, and I believe it’s a good example. Tarantino or Martin McDonagh have tones in their shows which are wildly all over the shop and you can be violent, dangerous, emotional, and then very funny. That, for us, always feels interesting. We tried to push it as far as we could and find a bunch of different tones, sometimes within the same scene, or sometimes the music is doing something very different to what the performance is doing. You’re being pulled in all directions, trying to see where it lands while also presenting a version of the world which is hopefully real and with characters that you can understand and relate to.
What does Daisy Haggard bring to the role of Janet?
HW: Ten years ago, we first did an animation with Daisy, and we’ve since produced her show Back to Life and another pilot with her. We have worked with her for a long time and know her very well. Because of the nature of the show, which is humorous at times, and very dark, we wanted somebody who could pull off those things and could give that part a levity and gravitas at the same time. We knew she could do both because we have seen her do it. She’s a bit newer in the drama space, so it was more exciting from our point of view to have someone like that in this role. The moment we thought of her for it, we couldn’t think of anyone else.
JW: We often write scripts with people in mind, and it doesn’t always work out, you have schedules and timetables to consider. In this case, we wrote nearly every part with someone in mind and moved the schedule around to make sure they could do it and we’re lucky enough for them all to have said yes.
JW: Daisy had thoughts on scripts and cuts, she’s very collaborative and very creative because she’s a writer herself. She’s a wonderful person to have on board.
What does Paterson bring to the role of Samuel?
HW: Paterson was also in another show of ours called Rellik. Oddly, pretty much everyone in this show has been in other shows of ours; it’s almost a greatest hits of Two Brothers Pictures!
Paterson was very good in it and had the best scene, so it had stuck in our minds as we were writing the part. The image of his manic intensity paired with Daisy’s levity with her sense of humour felt really funny and arresting to us, so we’ve almost written it for him as well.
What does Tchéky Karyo bring to the role of The Tailor?
HW: We did a show with Tchéky called Baptiste which we finished a couple of years ago, and The Missing before that and he had been the hero in both. He was a 90’s villain in Bad Boys and The Patriot, so we thought it’d be great to have him as the villain in this series. In the spirit of getting everyone that we had worked with together, he felt like the right choice.
The character of The Tailor is menacing, but also shows a softer side. Why did you write him like this, and why was Tchéky the man for the role?
JW: One of the things we wanted in this show was that everyone had a lot of facets and surprises to their character, in the spirit of trying to make the show more interesting and multilayered as possible. We wanted to make sure we’d spent time with our villains in the moments they’re not being villainous. It’s quite common in TV and movies when you see a villain, they have one thing in mind and that’s being a villain. It felt interesting to us to think about what happened in the moments when this very well-to-do debonair Frenchman turns up in a fictitious but strange, isolated northern town and finds himself with a bit of spare time. What does he do there and what does his life look like. Rather than walking around and being villainous and turning his nose up at everything, he falls in love with the place. It felt interesting, because no one is bad all the time – there’s a whole other side to him that the other characters haven’t seen.
What does Joanna Scanlan bring to the role of Pat Tooh?
HW: Pat is the most innocent character in the whole show. We were so amazed that Joanna agreed to do it, because she was initially only in a couple of scenes but becomes a much bigger part and is a really important pivotal role. Joanna gives so much in her performances; she’s such an amazing actor.
What does Craig Fairbrass bring to the role of Guy?
JW: Craig Fairbrass plays Guy, the character who is the henchmen of The Tailor; he starts out very two dimensional, a tall beefy man who is there to provide the muscle. Then as the series develops, you realise he has a yearning to do something else, and has a softer, more emotional side. Craig, who lots of people know from bigger action films, has a recent history of doing sort of smaller indie projects in which he’s shown what a great actor he is. This is another opportunity if you haven’t seen how good an actor Craig is, to observe him in action because he’s absolutely phenomenal.
The series is set in Yorkshire, why did you decide to set the story there?
JW: We had pictures in our mind of where it took place. We wanted somewhere by the coast, but it wasn’t going to be the depiction of a traditional British TV coastal detective drama. We started to consider how to get a touch of that, but also somewhere urban that can also be rural, and we looked at a lot of different places. We started from the coast and began working back and as we looked around Yorkshire and particularly Leeds and York, we found it offered a massive variety of locations to stitch together. We wanted something that felt interesting and a little different to what we’ve seen before. There is no town in England that offered absolutely everything that you see in this show. But it’s a slightly storybook version of it, which again, felt on point thematically with what we’re trying to do.
How do you want audiences to feel when they watch Boat Story?
HW: When people watch Boat Story, I’d like them to be entertained and to feel like they’re watching something they haven’t seen a lot of before and that it’s different. There’s a lot on TV, and we’d love it to stand out and be something that catches people’s attention.
Why should audiences watch Boat Story?
HW: It’s full of surprises and it ends up in a place I don’t think anyone would ever really guess where this show ends. It’s so weird, in a brilliant way. I love all the shows we do, but this is weird and so out there, that it really holds a special place. People should be surprised and hopefully not have seen anything like it.
JW: There are moments watching it where I think to myself that I can’t quite believe that they’re letting us get away with this. Keep watching because whatever your expectations are, we’re fairly sure you won’t quite know what’s happening next.
What is the appeal to pushing boundaries?
JW: For anyone in any field, there comes a point where you want to try and do something different and try and make more noise. It feels more interesting to try and do something that will stand out, because if you’re trying to do something that’s been done a million times before, you’ll just kind of join the masses.
HW: It’s not a very safe thing to do because we’ve done a lot of detective shows which we’ve loved doing. However, just like with anything, if you do it a bit too much, you get a bit bored and want a new challenge; there’s a lot more risk involved. Certainly, when you’re trying to layer the comedy on top of it, you’re always at risk of it tipping over into a comedy or people not investing in it and that’s part of the challenge and why we’re doing it. It’s keeping us interested and invested in, seeing how far you can push it and still make it work.
Meet the Boat Story Cast
Daisy Haggard (Janet Campbell)
Daisy Haggard is a BAFTA-nominated British actor and writer. With a fantastic career spanning over two decades, Daisy has been featured in multiple well-known productions and franchises across theatre, film, and television. She trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and has since dominated the stage and screen appearing in some of the most successful comedies and series of the last twenty years. As the creator of comedy-drama, Back to Life, Daisy co-wrote, featured and Executive Produced the series to critical acclaim. Since 2020, Daisy has also starred in Breeders alongside Martin Freeman, which saw her nominated for Best Female Comedy Performance at the 2021 BAFTA Awards. Daisy will next be seen and has just wrapped on Season 4 of Breeders.
Daisy has appeared in several television comedies including Episodes alongside Matt LeBlanc, Green Wing, and Uncle. Other on-screen credits include Psychoville, The Persuasionists, Parents, Hilda, Doctor Who, Ballot Monkeys, Ashes to Ashes, Sense & Sensibility, and Hang Ups. Her theatre credits include the title character in Becky Shaw (Almedia), Consent (Royal National), The Importance of Being Ernest (Theatre Royal), The UN Inspector (National), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Master & Margarita (Chichester Festival), The Dwarfs (National/Tricycle), and Shop Floor (Union).
What drew you to this project?
Jack and Harry contacted me, saying they may have written a part for me and sent me the script for Boat Story. When I read it, I really hoped they had written the part for me, because it was the most brilliantly inventive and imaginative show. It was also such a lovely, interesting character with a strong moral dilemma at the centre of the story. When I read it, I was desperate to play her and delighted when I was allowed to.
How did you feel when you first read the script?
The things that interested me most about the script, was that I love things that jump around tonally in the sense that they don’t commit; it doesn’t have to just be one thing. It’s allowed to be funny, dark and moving. I thought they’d really captured and nailed a very original tone that felt very integrated in all the scripts. It was characterful, really dark at times and people are going to be quite shocked. I have to close my eyes when I watch some of it. But also had this emotional heart and then loads of humour, I found it very exciting.
How would you describe Janet?
Janet is somebody who at the heart, is a really good person. She’s kind, but she’s had a really tough time. As we start the show, she plummets to her lowest ebb, and she’s placed in a situation where she makes a decision that I don’t think she would have made at another point in her life. She’s at rock bottom, she’s forced into a situation where a decision comes out of her that she otherwise wouldn’t have made. However, I think she’s fundamentally an ordinary and rather good person who’s placed in a very extraordinary situation.
Themes of morality come up in the series, do you think that Janet is a good person?
She makes a bad decision that is chaotic and catastrophic, but I don’t think she’s a bad person. She’s driven to the edge and then makes a shocking and dangerous decision that is very much not a moral decision. People can make mistakes, right? She was at a very weak point, and she was led into making a decision that was a mistake. Fundamentally, she’s a good egg. There’s no way that she would have made that decision if Samuel was not there. She would have called the police immediately, cried and then walked away.
Does Janet trust Samuel, how does she initially feel about him?
Janet doesn’t trust Samuel when she first meets him, she makes this decision with him in the moment, then she spends quite a lot of the series looking at him and thinking what has she done? It’s like jumping into the deep end with somebody that you don’t know at all; I think that she thinks he’s a bit of an idiot. She certainly talks to him like he is. Janet veers between finding him irritating and not trusting him and thinking that she’s probably made the worst mistake to jump into a situation with somebody who is intrinsically a bit shifty.
How has your experience been during filming, do have a favourite moment?
It was a brilliant experience. We had four fantastic directors. We had the two brothers, Jack and Harry, Alice Troughton, and Daniel Nettheim.
How have you found filming in Yorkshire, what do you think this location brings to the story?
Shooting it in Yorkshire was beautiful. It’s such a lovely place and eating fish and chips on my lunch break was a high point! I really enjoyed it as a job. I found it really liberating, oddly, walking around with no makeup and blue hair, in a big pair of comfy boots and a huge jacket. I found the whole experience really fun, inventive and inspiring. I really enjoyed it.
There’s such a beauty to Yorkshire. It’s stunning and there’s something about the bleak beauty of a winter, being on the beach and the wind just stripping you. There’s something about that and the story that I think really, really works. I love Yorkshire, I think it’s stunning.
What can audiences look forward to the most about Boat Story?
Expect the unexpected from this show, that’s what excites me about it. It doesn’t feel like anything else I’ve seen; it feels truly original. Don’t expect anything, apart from not knowing what to expect, in a really fun way. It takes you on a crazy ride and you’re never going to be able to guess where you’re going; I think that’s what I loved about it. I love when something is written like that, but you know that they know where they’re going. It’s got this confidence, but you’re always kept at the edge of your seat thinking what’s going to happen next. It’s pretty tense.
Have you ever made a wild life-changing decision?
I haven’t… I once stole a penny sweet when I was a little child, I took it and put it in my mouth and then returned it. That was probably worse than if I’d eaten it. That’s the wildest thing I’ve ever done. I realised I wasn’t very good at those kinds of decisions – I’m definitely not cut out for a life of crime; I would be awful. When I was little, I used to confess things I’d done at home to policemen when I was walking down the street; my mum would hurry me along and tell me it was fine.
Paterson Joseph (Samuel Wells)
Paterson Joseph was born and raised in London and trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). He’s worked extensively on screen, television and in the theatre. Paterson will next appear in WONKA alongside Timothée Chalemet, directed by Paul King.
Paterson’s previous on-screen credits include: Anansi Boys, That Dirty Black Bag, Vigil, The Mosquito Coast, Inside No.9, The End Of The F***ing World, Noughts And Crosses, Avenue 5, Grantchester, Peep Show, Green Wing, In The Name Of The Father and The Beach. On stage, Paterson’s theatre credits include A Christmas Carol (Old Vic), Troilus and Cressida, The Last Days of Don Juan, King Lear (RSC); Elmina’s Kitchen, St Joan, Emperor Jones and The Royal Hunt of the Sun (National Theatre).
There are a lot of layers to Samuel; he is a family man, an ex-lawyer who knows a lot of interesting people. What drew you to him?
It’s not often you get a character who is so delicate and fragile, especially as a middle-aged actor I was fascinated by that. How somebody who’s really a cracked vessel can just hold his life together, he’s just about leaking everywhere, but on the surface, everything seems fine, but we see a lot of cracks from the very early scenes. So, I was fascinated to see how that journey would continue and he just becomes more and more broken. And the fissures get wider and wider, and he holds less and less water as it goes on. It’s a great character to have been able to play.
What can you tease audiences about the show?
if I was going to talk about this plot simply, it is two people who are desperate in their lives, for different reasons, one (Samuel), through all the fault of his own and another (Janet), through no fault of her own. Both are desperate and they find themselves in a dilemma, a moral quandary. Do you steal a boat load of illegal drugs and step over the two dead bodies that you find, or do you call the police? and they both decide to take it and run.
How does Samuel convince Janet to take the drugs?
We have a situation where both of us are desperate; Janet is a woman who has clearly got to be on her heels, and here’s all this money and I’m desperate. I want to save my life and my family’s existence; I need to get this money. I convince her to think about the possibility of taking this money and running. I don’t think Samuel should be blamed entirely for Janet’s decisions. I’d like to defend him for that, but all he does is present her the opportunity and if we take it, we could both succeed and if we don’t, we’ll always regret it. That’s the moral quandary he presents to her, and she bites at it.
How do you think audiences will react to Boat Story?
I think that this story will divide a lot of viewers in the sides they take. Initially of course they’re on the sides of the two main characters, Janet and Samuel, because they think these guys are desperate and this money is there. But they must consider that the morality of it is a bit skewed. They should really call the police and they don’t. The consequences are some very bad people come after these two innocent people who have no idea how to deal with mobsters and drug runners, especially French ones who are quite sophisticated and psychopathic. I think what they set in motion is terrible and it’s almost funny in a dark humour way, because of the grim things that happen. A lot of people lose their lives because of Samuel and Janet’s decision, I think the audience will be in a moral quandary through most of it.
Who is The Tailor and Guy?
Every good thriller needs a big villain and we’ve got one in the shape of Tchéky Karyo, who used to live in France, so I know him quite well. The Tailor is the Robert De Niro of France, a man who you’re not quite sure what he’s going to do and what he’s capable of; we find out quite quickly, he’s capable of some gross violence. He is dealing with two people who are innocents in this world, and he terrifies us, and I think the audience should be terrified of what he will do to us, and they will be. He is a man without any morality.
The Tailor has also got the amazing Craig Fairbrass as his henchmen, and Craig is one of the funniest men on the planet. I laughed a lot with him as well as being terrified by him. Craig’s character Guy comes after us and physically intimidates us, but also mentally terrorises us in an affable way. I’ve never quite seen Craig in anything like this; I think the audience will be really excited by it.
What has it been like working with Daisy Haggard?
It’s been great to work with Daisy. I’ve seen her in many things, and we have many mutual friends. I think both of us are playing characters we haven’t been seen playing before and I’m definitely not any form of an alpha male in this and she actually turns out to be much more in charge of things than she starts off being. It was great playing with her because they never really get to know each other as pals, it’s not Thelma and Louise, we don’t end up really having a bond with each other, it’s all business and terror. So really, Daisy was perfect because we knew each other so well, that we could play the opposite to how we really feel about each other, without feeling that we’re going to offend the other.
I think the character combinations are really interesting – I’m looking forward to seeing how that comes across, two people who are from very different worlds meeting like that is a really fascinating thing to witness and see how they cope. Samuel’s a bit of a coward in terms of physical violence, he wants to escape it, but Janet, because she’s a ‘tiger mum’ she will do anything. This includes risking her own life to save her loved ones and it’s interesting to play somebody who’s got a moral compass that’s slightly skewed rather than Janet’s and see these two people battling out.
What surprised you about Samuel Wells?
I think I was really surprised at how brilliant he is at lying. He’s one of these people who doesn’t need to even blink before he delivers a full biography or something that is completely made up and will convince you that whatever he’s saying is true. That’s a superpower, and he’s very good at it. It gets him out of enormous trouble, and I really love the fact that though he has the gift of the gab, he’s also psychologically good at reading people. When he’s alone with Guy and the two of them are waiting for Janet, clearly this man is going to kill them both when he gets a chance. His strategy is not silence and hope he can run; his strategy is almost talking this man to death. Make sure this man knows your humanity, find out stuff about him, and then tease that out so that it’s going to be harder for him when he needs to pull the trigger.
How have you found filming in Yorkshire?
Yorkshire has been beautiful; I’ve loved every minute of it. Halifax was the big surprise for me and going into the covered market and finding ‘the street in the sky’, which is five-bedroom houses above a market. It’s a beautiful place and should be renovated as I think artists would love to live up there. I knew the Lake District quite well, but I didn’t know the Yorkshire Dales and everywhere we’ve been, has been beautiful.
How would you describe Boat Story?
I would say apart from love story themes, everything else is packed in this. There is love, but it’s familial love and the commitment that both Janet and Samuel have to their families and doing anything they can to save their families, which is beautiful, even if misguided. Also, there’s the thriller element, the fact that you’re laughing and at the same time wondering who’s going to die next. It’s very, very well balanced.
Have you ever made a wild life-changing decision?
I think in life you should make at least one wild decision. The wildest decision I have ever made was to live in in Dublin for over a year, and I got married there. That wasn’t the wildest decision though, the wildest decision was to live out there. I had a wonderful time and eventually I had to come back to start work again. This was in the mid-90’s and it was a wonderful, crazy thing to do, but I have never regretted it.
Tchéky Karyo (The Tailor)
Tchéky Karyo’s early career started on stage, playing roles in both classical and contemporary works. He later transitioned to a career in Film and TV where he has featured in numerous award-winning French and Hollywood films.
Notable film credits include La Femme Nikita, Vincent and Me, Nostradamus, Crying Freeman, Bad Boys, GoldenEye, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, The Patriot and Kiss of the Dragon. His television roles include Dr. Willy Rozenbaum in the HBO film And the Band Played On, Georges Méliès in the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, and French detective Julien Baptiste in the BBC crime drama The Missing and its spin-off series Baptiste. His performance in La Balance saw him nominated for a César Award for Most Promising Actor and was awarded the Jean Gabin Prize in recognition of his acting performances. Tchéky is also the recipient of the Crystal Nymphe Award from the International Television Festival, Monaco.
You’ve worked with Two Brothers Pictures on numerous projects such as The Missing and Baptiste, but we see you as a very different character in Boat Story. How was it to embody a nastier character?
I’ve been working with The Brothers now since 2012, we did two series of The Missing and two series of Baptiste and suddenly they came to me and said they had something special for me and I accepted without reading anything. I did this because I know their talent and I know how creative and surprising they are. All they told me was my character was called ‘The Tailor’ and that he is a powerful figure who
was raised on the ashes of a family and when we meet him in Boat Story, he is a mob boss and the head of a big cartel, but he has a passion for clothes.
That’s why he’s not the Tailor but THE Tailor and in the back of his tailoring shop, weird things happen that are quite surprising. In Boat Story, The Tailor gets angry because a horde of his drugs disappear, and he starts to try and find out where it went. He has no emotion with the way he operates, it’s just business and it’s not personal. Nothing’s personal, even when somebody gets erased from the earth, it’s just business.
Can you tell audiences a bit about The Tailor and where we find him at the start of the series?
To play this character, if there is one word for me, I suddenly had the vision of something fractal. That’s how this character is, because there are many moments where you get surprised by him and there are different levels of depths to his personality. You are in the matrix, because it’s told from different galaxies, perspectives and spaces. That’s why you enter this story and suddenly your head is being turned in different directions and spun on its axis due to the different roads it goes down.
What drew you to the role of The Tailor? What excited you about this project?
I was constantly wondering how I should react to some of the crazy situations and scenes The Tailor is in. Which I loved, because sometimes in real life, you are ridiculous, even if you are an intimidating figure like he is. It was very exciting for me and challenging as an actor to embrace those situations and play them against some amazing and very skilled British actors – it was inspiring.
How does The Tailor fit into the story?
All the characters are trapped in their own tragic comedy, with their own destinies in their own abyss – eventually they meet and its electric. My character’s perspective comes from the show itself; it’s called Boat Story – meaning there are tales and stories. Each character will have a different angle and a different perspective of the story. There are many layers to my character and as the series progresses you start to understand why The Tailor is the way he is, and it’s not what you expect! All of these characters are trapped in different ways and are fighting to find the light, whether that’s with addiction or to be with their child.
How do you think audiences will react to The Tailor?
They will be discombobulated because there is something fractal in it, there is something that you think is one thing and then it’s another. That’s why the writing is so special and challenges you and lets yourself and your imagination spread into what’s offered on the page.
What is it about Harry and Jack Williams’ writing that brings you back?
There is a virtuosity in the way they write because it opens all the possibilities you can get into, it’s very generous writing. It’s not linear, it’s a real trip and it’s a rollercoaster. A rollercoaster is what The Tailor actually goes through. As a viewer, I would be sitting there and saying thank you for taking me on this ride.
There’s more humour and off-beat comedy in this series, tell us what that was like to bring to life?
I have so much confidence in the writing that when you start working on situations, when you start working on the words and you prepare the scenes before you go on stage to shoot. The moment you start shooting you realise the different levels, and you let go and enjoy the ride and journey.
How do you think audiences will react to Boat Story?
It’s like going to a theme park and you are on a rollercoaster ride and suddenly you are together with the angels above and then you take a twist and a turn, and your head is upside down.
Joanna Scanlan (Pat Tooh)
BAFTA award-winning actress Joanna Scanlan is one of Britain’s most versatile talents, seamlessly moving from comedy to drama in both television and feature films. Joanna was brought up in North Wales, and studied History and Law at Cambridge University, where she joined The Footlights. After Cambridge, Joanna lectured Performing Arts at Leicester Polytechnic/De Montfort University and worked at the Arts Council of Great Britain.
Joanna’s film credits include After Love, which she won Lead Actress for both BAFTA and BIFA, Notes on a Scandal, Bridget Jones’s Baby, Girl with a Pearl Earring, How To Build a Girl, and How To Talk To Girls At Parties. Joanna is known for appearing in some of the best television series including No Offence, Gentleman Jack, Requiem, The Thick of It, Little Britain, and Rev. She also co-wrote and starred in Getting On and Puppy Love. On stage, Joanna has appeared in Cloud 9 (Almeida Theatre), Vernon God, Little (The Young Vic), and Polly Teale’s Madame Bovary (Oxford Playhouse).
Who is Pat Tooh and where do we find her at the start of the story?
Pat’s a late middle-aged ordinary woman, living in a town that she’s barely left in her lifetime, not looking for any adventure. She makes the best pasty in town, and she has a son who she lives alone with. She’s happy and she’s fine at the outset of this wild tale.
What has it been like developing the scripts as you have been filming?
The development of the scripts has been amazing. When I first read it, I thought it was absolutely brilliant, it’s very high energy and written like the fastest, most complicated, but enjoyably story; it’s got even more so over the process of filming. Some of the permutations have got richer and more extraordinary and funnier and frightening as well. The imagination has no bounds of Harry and Jack Williams!
What can you tease about the story?
It is a very complex and multi layered story. However, it’s not so much that it’s like a puzzle, it’s more fun than that. You go on a real ride with your characters, lots of laughs on the way and lots of shocks and horrors. Playing a character within that, you must keep your centre, it’s always about playing Mrs. Ordinary, Mrs. Fine and Mrs. Okay. Everything else around her is chaos, very extreme and surreal but she is in the middle of it. I’ve just had to keep on ploughing my furrow of ‘I’m fine’.
What has the atmosphere been like on set? Were there any particularly challenging scenes to film?
We have filmed through the winter, so the atmosphere is mainly about shivering and struggling with the really cold winter. We’ve had snow, we’ve had ice, we’ve had a lot of wind, huge storms, we’ve had storm Otto. It’s not been easy. I’d say the atmosphere on set is one of just trying to take care of your tootsies and the little fingers and keep them all nice and warm. But it’s fun to do. The joy of the scripts and the changes that have come in, and the way in which I feel trusted by Jack and Harry to give me the craziest things to do. I’ve found it a real delight and pleasure and I’ve loved working with Tchéky, I’ve absolutely loved it.
You could say Pat has seen it all, what drives her as a person?
Nothing drives Pat. She’s somebody who doesn’t live life on a drive, she’s not ambitious. She doesn’t want to drive anything; she wants to have a nice life and there’s nothing wrong with that. Society, take note! You don’t have to live your best life, you can just live an okay one and be fine, and that’s very much Pat’s world. If we’re talking about actors’ motivation, then what she is probably looking for is to maintain that peace. She doesn’t even want to make a better pasty or have a nice time with her son, she just is content. I think there’s one quirk to her character which is that she’s not nonplussed by things that are gory, bloody or dangerous because she has worked as a paramedic in the past. She’s been on the scene of accidents and horrible beatings up and she’s just able to take it in her stride. I think there’s something about that character trait, which is unusual. She’s not fazed and it’s something that becomes quite useful in the storytelling.
What is Pat’s relationship with her son like?
Pat loves her son. He seems to doubt that she loves him as much as she actually does, and I think that’s because he’s struggled a bit in life. He hasn’t been recognised for his positive strengths and he’s struggled at work, and I imagine she’s had to be very encouraging of him over the years, but it’s left him with some doubt about his own self esteem.
How have you brought Pat to life?
I think it’s been about making it real and making something convincing, because some of the events that take place in this show are pretty out there, to say the very least of it! I’ve had to try and maintain a grounded, real quality to her to pass as a character but also to her reactions to the events around her.
Why should audiences watch Boat Story?
Because it’s massively entertaining! People sometimes forget to entertain an audience when they’re creating drama, but not Jack and Harry Williams. This is a really, properly entertaining show.
Craig Fairbrass (Guy)
Craig Fairbrass is an established British actor known for his performances in the British cult Film franchise Rise of the Footsoldier (2007-present) which has seen him headline four films. Recently, Craig has moved into more powerful, critically acclaimed, independent films such as Muscle (2019), Villain (2020) and A Violent Man (2021) the latter winning him the Outstanding Performance award at the 2022 National Film Awards. Further notable past films include St. George’s Day (2012), Devil’s Playground (2010), blockbuster Cliffhanger (1993) opposite Sylvester Stallone and For Queen & Country (1988) opposite Denzel Washington. Craig also has outstanding television credits, including starring roles in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox, 2008/9), David Mamet’s The Unit (CBS, 2007) and Stargate SG-1 (Showtime, 2007).
Craig will next be seen starring in several highly anticipated projects: the international Netflix series One Piece in the regular role of the iconic pirate chef Red Leg Zeff; and the latest Footsoldier hit feature, Vengeance.
How did you feel when you first read the script?
As actors, we get lots of scripts to read and some are good, some are bad. But when you get something that is so special, it’s amazing. I got sent the first two episodes and I just didn’t get up. They were so good. It’s so well written, and so original. They literally blew me away. That is an amazing thing when you’re turning the page and you’re wondering where’s the character going and the stuff that comes into the story is amazing.
Who is Guy?
Guy’s methodical and very disciplined. He’s very loyal to The Tailor and he wants to do his best and wants to show that he’s a professional. He’s not got time to waste. Anyone who gets in his way, it doesn’t end up nice. He’s a very loyal man and a professional who takes his job very seriously. Jack and Harry Williams are so clever. They’re such smart writers that you think that Guy is just another henchman, but he’s got so many layers and I’ve been very lucky in my last four or five films, that the roles I’m doing now have got a bit of subtext and depth to the characters.
Where do we find Guy at the start of the story?
Guy works for The Tailor, he’s a gun for hire who has been brought up from London, because the two people who have found the illegal drugs on the beach, decided to keep it and are thinking about selling it. So, he has the job of finding out who took the drugs and getting it back for The Tailor, at any cost. Guy’s very ruthless; he takes no prisoners to the point that the body count quickly begins to grow.
What can audiences look forward to about the series?
It’s a very wild ride and it’s an incredible story. It’s got a human story at its heart with very complex characters. It’s got a lot of dark humour, and it’s very moving at times. The great thing about this is that the violence is there for a purpose and it’s not just violence for violence’s sake, they’ve got a limited amount of time before the drugs are sold; Guy realises this once he starts putting two and two together and nothing will stand in his path – he leaves the Terminator roasting. He’s on a mission to get those drugs back.
What has it been like filming the various action sequences?
It’s very unusual for a UK show to have that amount of action in it, but it’s clever action, not silly action. It’s the right action for what actually goes on. There’s one sequence in particular, which was like nothing I’ve ever read before, it reminded me of a big American action sequence, it’s very explosive and very violent. You’ve never seen an opening like this in any British show before. We were also lucky on this as we had amazing firearms experts who were monitoring us 24/7 and two to three cameras on every shot, Steadicams and lots of other moving parts, all choreographed to perfection.
How was it working alongside the rest of the cast?
I was always a massive fan of Tchéky’s and I love Daisy, Paterson and Ethan. All the actors that I’ve had some really big dramatic material to share with have been incredible. It’s lovely when you’re working with people of that calibre, I can’t thank them enough. I’m only too pleased and honoured to be in their company.
How does Guy compare to other roles you’ve played?
My career as an actor and in the last 45 years has been predominantly action, so I’m used to that aspect of it. It’s the drama that’s new. I got hit with an eight-page dramatic scene for Boat Story and had about 14 hours to learn it. I can run around all day with guns and fighting, but Boat Story is a stunning drama, about people who have got an Achilles heel. Tough guys who are a little bit damaged, a little bit more interesting than just being a thug and Guy has those qualities. There’s a lot more to him than just a man who walks around shooting people and you get to know him, and you get to know what his real passion is…
What has it been like filming in Yorkshire?
I think it’s my third job in Yorkshire, I love it. The people are amazing. Very friendly and very different to London; I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
Why should audiences watch Boat Story?
It’s so original and so different. I’ve been an actor for a very long time, and I’ve not read a story like this. It’s just very, very gripping and fresh, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. It’s the writing and it all begins with the writing in the scripts, then the actors bring it to life, and it is quality, absolute quality.
A factory worker who’s hard up on her luck. With money running desperately tight, she’s helplessly watching as custody of her beloved stepson, Alan, slowly slips away. Everything changes when an impossible, yet utterly tantalising opportunity presents itself that would turn her circumstances around. With seemingly nothing to lose but everything to gain, Janet grabs it. Forced to put her trust in a complete stranger, Janet is thrown into an unfamiliar world of ruthlessly violent criminals and untrustworthy actors. But Janet’s no fool. Beneath her warm, downtrodden demeanour is an innate resilience. Soon, Janet finds herself calling on reserves of grit she never knew she had.
Samuel knows a thing or two about taking a risk. After years of hiding it, his crippling gambling addiction has caught up with him and now he’s moving his wife, Camilla, and teenage daughter, Anya, to the North-East to escape the bailiffs. Not that that’s the story he’s told them. Keeping the secrets is just about killing him. When Samuel encounters Janet, they make a life-changing discovery which binds them together. Will Samuel be able to use this golden opportunity to right his wrongs, or will his compulsive relationship with risk bring everything crashing down?
The Tailor is a paradox: immaculately turned out at all times and utterly ruthless. While his name gives away his public facing profession, it conceals a much darker line of work: running a huge empire of narcotics from his home in France. When The Tailor discovers yet another haul of cocaine has gone missing, he sets out to find and punish the thieves. But no sooner has he arrived in the North-East, he’s overwhelmed by a different drug: nostalgia. As the search for the missing haul progresses, haunting tales from The Tailor’s past begin to resurface, and he’ll stop at nothing to relive them.
An ex-paramedic, Pat has seen it all and nothing fazes her. Now in her later years she runs her own pasty shop, enjoying a calmer life. That is, until a mysterious stranger comes knocking at her door and she discovers there is still excitement to be had but with those thrills also comes danger.
A mid-level drug dealer with a superstitious streak, Vinnie has worked hard to build his North-East operation. He has big dreams and will do anything to achieve them. So when a stranger tries to muscle in on his turf, Vinnie vows to fight to the death to keep it, but his deep paranoia means he soon starts to question who around him he can trust, making him all the more dangerous.
The Tailor’s dependable and ruthless right-hand man. He’s proven himself as a disciplined, smart killer who has little regard for his victims. Once he’s set his sights on his target, nothing can stand in his way so when The Tailor sends him to find the missing haul of cocaine, a trail of devastation soon follows. But years of loyalty have taken their toll on Guy. Will he live this life of servitude forever, or might there be a different story?
Janet’s eccentric teenage stepson. A fiercely intelligent outsider, Alan spends much of his time in his own world. He deeply resents living with his boorish father and misses Janet who he sees as his real mum. Sometimes it feels like she is the only one who gets him. She’s as weird as he is. So when Janet begins to hide things from him, Alan immediately knows something is up.
PC Ben Tooh
A hapless police officer who feels he hasn’t been given the chance to prove he is a serious detective. When a devastating event rocks the town, Ben is given an opportunity to put his skills to the test, whether his boss approves or not. Soon, clues begin to fall into his hands, and he starts off on the trail to the culprits. But is he following the breadcrumbs in the right direction?
Samuel’s wife Camilla is a novelist and dreamer who’s a little lost in her own world. She admires her husband’s spontaneity and is excited about their move to the North. Yet unknown to her, Samuel is in a state of deep distress, tormented by the web of lies he’s woven. Soon, however, Camilla starts to notice the cracks. Will she be able to separate fact from fiction and keep her family together?
Samuel’s teenage daughter. She’s far from delighted at being dragged unceremoniously from her home in London up to the North-East, to a place which her dad Samuel promises is a fixer upper. An only child, she tries to avoid hanging around with her parents. Though they try to hide things from her, Anya is astute and can tell when things aren’t right and when lies are exposed, she is torn between her parents.
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