EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that BBC One has green-lit production on a new 90 minute one-off factual drama titled The Whale. I hear that the drama is based on the factual book The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by A Whale and tells the story of the whaleship Essex which sunk in 1820.
The book The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by A Whale was the account of the incident as told Thomas Nickerson, Owen Chase and other witnesses. The incident in question took place in 1820, when the Nantucket whaleship Essex, thousands of miles from home in the South Pacific, was rammed by an angry sperm whale. The Essex sank, leaving twenty crew members floating in three small boats for ninety days. The incident has since been described as “The Titanic of the 1800’s” and served as the inspiration for Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick.
My sources tell me that the 90 minute drama was written by Terry Cafolla (The Crash) and is set to begin shooting in the coming weeks with Alrick Riley (Hunted, The Paradise) attached to direct. I hear that newcomer Charles Furness has landed the lead role as Thomas Nickerson and that other cast members include John Boyega (Law & Order: UK), Joe Armstrong (Robin Hood), Jassa Ahluwalia (Some Girls), Adam Rayner (Hunted) and Jonas Armstrong (Hit & Miss). BBC In House is producing, with John Chapman on board to produce. I’m also hearing rumblings that the Discovery Channel is co-producing, and will air the drama state-side, but I’ve been unable to confirm that.