The Whale (2013 film)

The Whale
Genre Drama
Written by Terry Cafolla
Directed by Alrick Riley
Theme music composer Debbie Wiseman
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Mick Kaczorowski(Animal Planet)
Producer(s) Mike Dormer
Cinematography David Raedeker
Editor(s) James Hughes
Running time 90 minutes
Production company(s)
Budget £2,213,684
Original network BBC One
Original release
  • 22 December 2013 (2013-12-22) (UK)
External links

The Whale is a British television film that was first broadcast on BBC One on 22 December 2013. Terry Cafolla wrote the film about the Essex incident in 1820, which also formed the basis of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.[1] The Whale was also broadcast on Animal Planet in the United States during the summer of 2014.[2]


Thomas Nickerson (Martin Sheen) recalls his past as a cabin boy on the Essex whaling ship.



The Whale used underwater shots and specialist equipment to create storm scenes for Essex, the whaleship the film is based on.[3] The television film was made by BBC Factual Productions with Animal Planet as co-producer, with Eamon Hardy and Ruth Caleb as executive producers for the BBC and Mick Kaczorowski as executive producer for Animal Planet. The director is Alrick Riley and the composer is Debbie Wiseman.[3] The producer is Mike Dormer.[3]

Around the time of the first read-through of the script, Joe Armstrong left his role as Lawrence. The role was later given to Jolyon Coy who had recently finished the theatre show Posh.[4] Filming began in Malta on 8 April 2013 and ended on 12 May 2013.[5][6][7][8] In Malta, filming took place in Gozo and the Mediterranean Film Studios with the help of Latina Pictures. The set was visited by Emmanuel Mallia, Minister for Home Affairs for Malta, and Malta Film Commissioner Peter Busutill in May 2013.[9][10] On 16 April 2013, the set was visited by Anton Refalo, the Minister for Gozo.[5][11] Jassa Ahluwalia said re-recording took place on 11 October 2013.[12] The production budget was £2,213,684.[5]

On 25 November 2013, the BBC announced that the television film would be part of BBC One's Christmas schedule.[13]


Writing in The Guardian, John Crace said it "felt like a big-screen movie epic trapped inside a relatively small-budget TV programme" and was disappointed by the whale scenes.[14] The Daily Telegraph's Michael Hogan gave it three out of five stars and called it "gripping and gory".[15]

See also


  1. Jeffery, Morgan (8 April 2013). "Jonas Armstrong to lead new BBC One drama 'The Whale'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  2. "Martin Sheen to Star in The Whale, Premiering Summer 2014 on Animal Planet". Broadway World. 25 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 "Multiple award-winner Martin Sheen stars in BBC One's The Whale". BBC. 25 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  4. Munn, Patrick (9 April 2013). "Joe Armstrong Exits BBC One's 'The Whale', Jolyon Coy To Assume Role". TV Wise. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 "Minister Mallia visits film studies for production of The Whale". Gozo News. 5 May 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  6. "Jonas Armstrong stars in BBC One's The Whale, a dramatisation of events that inspired Moby Dick". BBC. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  7. Dowell, Ben (8 April 2013). "BBC plans whaling drama based on tale that inspired Moby Dick". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  8. Vincent, Alice (9 April 2013). "BBC start work on Moby Dick film The Whale, but there's no Ahab in sight". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  9. Goundry, Nick. "Malta Minister pledges filming support as BBC shoots The Whale". The Location Guide. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  10. Dalli, Miriam (4 May 2013). "Home Affairs Minister visits film set of BBC production The Whale". Malta Today. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  11. "Gozo Minister visits production of the BBC drama The Whale". Gozo News. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  12. Ahluwalia, Jassa. "ADR morning for The Whale!". Twitter. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  13. "Christmas on the BBC – A selection of festive treats across the BBC this Christmas". BBC. 25 November 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  14. Crace, John (23 December 2013). "The Whale; The Ladybird Books Story – TV review". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  15. Hogan, Michael (22 December 2013). "The Whale, BBC One, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
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