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CBC, Super Channel wade into North Water

Colin Farrell as Henry Drax in The North Water

Canadian broadcasters CBC/Radio-Canada and Super Channel have boarded five-part BBC drama The North Water as coproducers.

A UK/Canada treaty coproduction from Canada’s Rhombus Media and the UK’s See-Saw Films, the series stars Jack O’Connell, Colin Farrell and Stephen Graham and is based on Ian McGuire’s bestselling novel of the same name.

Set in the UK and the ice floes of the Arctic in the late 1850s, the series tells the story of a disgraced ex-army surgeon (O’Connell) who signs up as the ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition to the Arctic, where he finds that ferocity of the elements is matched by the violence of his crewmates, including a brutal harpooner (Farrell).

Distributed internationally by BBC Studios and directed by Andrew Haigh, The North Water premiered on US streamer AMC+ last week. It is set to air on BBC2 in the UK this autumn, while in Canada it will first air on Super Channel Fuse on September 19 before launching on the CBC in autumn 2022.

The show was filmed primarily in Budapest and on the frozen seas north of the Svalbard archipelago, with the cast and production team sailing as far as 81 degrees north to shoot sequences in the pack ice, which is believed to be the furthest north a scripted drama series has ever filmed.

While plans to shoot in Nunavut had to be curtailed because of the pandemic, a smaller local unit in Iqaluit stepped in to properly represent and authentically capture the vastness of the Canadian Arctic.

CBC/Radio-Canada’s involvement in the project comes after the Canuck firm and the BBC announced a commitment to collaborate across a range of different areas in July 2019.

The executive producers on the series are Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman for See-Saw Films; Niv Fichman for Rhombus Media; Jo McClellan for the BBC; and writer/director Haigh.

In addition, Rhombus Media’s Fraser Ash and Kevin Krikst are co-executive producers and Claude Paiement is coproducer on behalf of Montreal’s N63 Films. The North Water is produced in association with the Canada Media Fund.

“In a borderless, global entertainment marketplace, The North Water exemplifies our strategy to collaborate to compete by joining forces and combining resources with broadcasters and producers in Canada, the UK and around the world to bring our audiences distinct, world-class storytelling,” said Catherine Tait, president and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada.

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