Written by Terry Cafolla (Messiah) for for BBC One and Discovery, the 90-minute film begins filming in Malta this week.
The Whale will follow the ill-fated voyage of The Essex through the eyes of the cabin boy Thomas Nickerson who, at 14, was the youngest member of the crew and one of only eight survivors of the shipwreck. Before he died in 1883, aged 78, Nickerson wrote a detailed account of his experiences which will form the basis of The Whale’s chronology, geography, characters, and main events; these are the same events that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick.
Cafolla teases: “At the emotional heart of the drama is orphan Nickerson’s coming-of-age story where he meets three powerful male role models in the captain, the first mate, and a steward. As the narrative develops his views on what makes a man switches dramatically as he sees how these role models respond under some of life’s most extreme pressures.”
Martin Davidson, Commissioner BBC History adds: “Throughout the narrative of this fascinating story some universal themes that everyone can relate to will be explored such as – What is Man’s place on Earth? How does humanity relate to the planet and its creatures? And what lengths will Man go to in order to survive? It is a thrilling tale.”
Armstrong will play First Mate Owen Chase in the film, alongside Adam Rayner (Hunted) as Captain Pollard, Paul Kaye (Stella) as Joy; David Gyasi (Cloud Atlas) as Peterson and Joe Armstrong (The Village) as Lawrence. Newcomer Charles Furness will play the young Tom Nickerson.
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