When strangers Janet (Daisy Haggard) and Samuel (Paterson Joeseph) meet on a beach one morning, they inadvertently stumble upon a literal boatload of cocaine washed up on the shore. They decide to take the drugs for themselves in the heat of the moment and try to sell them, hoping the money will solve each of their problems. However, their actions put them in the crosshairs of a vicious French criminal known only as The Tailor (Tchéky Karyo), who’ll stop at nothing to reclaim his property. From here, BBC’s Boat Story branches out into a madcap crime thriller laced with an irresistible charm made all the better by stellar performances and a wonderfully dark sense of humour.
Alongside being a gripping crime drama brimming with unexpected twists and turns in each episode, what makes the BBC’s latest miniseries notable is its playful tone. From the opening scene in which a dramatic narration introduces viewers to who will soon become the key players, the script is coloured with a rich personality that’s brought to life by a cast of memorable characters. Alongside the leads, other standouts include Craig Fairbrass as The Tailor’s gruff right-hand man, Joanna Scanlan as down-to-earth pasty maker Pat and Ethan Lawrence as her cheerful yet incompetent police officer son Ben. Throw in pitch-perfect black comedy and a meta-musical production of the show’s events (which has some fantastically bad show tunes), and Boat Story becomes one of the most unique and entertaining shows that the BBC has recently put out.
While it’s the fantastic tone that hooks viewers from the opening scene, it’s the heart written into each of the main characters that will keep people watching. Haggard’s endlessly charming performance is the core of the script, with her relationship with her son forming some of the more touching moments in the series. Samuel, too, has a familial connection, which further humanises his character. Even the seemingly ruthless crime boss is given a softer side. However, this gentler side is covered by a layer of punchy violence that doesn’t hold much back.
Boat Story is best described as a Tarantino movie in a seaside town. It’s weird, violent, funny and heartwarming all at once, all while telling a multi-layered crime story. In short, it’s excellent.
Boat Story is released on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on 19th November 2023.
Watch the trailer for Boat Story here: