“I hadn’t read anything ever that was quite this original”: Daisy Haggard and Paterson Joseph on Boat Story
This new crime-driven series Boat Story from seasoned writers Jack and Harry Williams brings together moments of dark comedy with surprising twists that elevate it out of its genre. With a brilliant ensemble cast that weave their talent through this quirky narrative, this mystery drama questions the premise of what is important in the world, what is love and what constitutes family.
When two complete strangers called Janet (Daisy Haggard) and Samuel (Paterson Joseph) discover the wreckage of a large fishing boat rammed with packages of cocaine and two corpses on board, they have some decisions to make. Soon they become the target of the police, some dangerous hitmen and a slick French gangster known as “The Tailor” (Tchéky Karyo).
The Upcoming had the pleasure of speaking to Haggard and Joseph about their roles in the series, what drew them to the script and what it was like to work with such a fantastic cast.
What can viewers expect when they watch this series of Boat Story? What is the story about?
Paterson Jason: Viewers should expect to be thrilled, they should also expect to be surprised. They have to grit their teeth a little bit too because there’s going to be some violence in it but it’s also quite witty and funny. That’s what I would say about it in a nutshell.
Daisy Haggard: Expect the unexpected.
PJ: That’s a good phrase, expect to embrace the unexpected because it’s coming at you. There’s nothing about the show that’s linear, or normal, or anything you would expect.
DH: Yes, it’s truly original and creative, so you’ve just got to jump on and come with us and we hope you enjoy it.
Daisy, this is an offbeat dark comedy, which you’re no stranger to, but what was it about playing Janet and this particular script that you loved?
DH: I just immediately really loved Janet. I thought she was a really well-written and clear character. I really cared about her straight away and I felt what she’d gone through and I felt thrilled that someone like her was going to then be put in this situation, which was then obviously going to have this massive effect on her and just to play those stakes all the time. I mean, sometimes you’re in a scene [as an actor] and you’re wondering what you’ll be playing next but there was never that worry with this, our characters, from the moment we make that decision we made, we are running from something. So, any day you’d wake up learn your lines and know there was something to play. There was this urgency. It was a no-brainer for me, it was such a brilliant script and I hadn’t read anything ever that was quite this original.
Paterson, can you tell us about your journey in this series and the relationship you forge with Janet. You’re both, in a way, considered outsiders aren’t you?
PJ: Yes, and I don’t think Samuel has ever met anyone quite like Janet, who’s so deeply pessimistic. I was fascinated by her. The journey I went on was sometimes wanting to make the character nicer than they are, to give them something deep to explain why they do what they do but he doesn’t really have that, he’s quite shallow. So, what was brilliant was being able to anchor my story around Janet and my family because as a human being, I think he actually needs a lot of therapy to get himself to realise that not everything’s going to work out for him. So, meeting Janet makes him look at his own life and the ways his confidence in thinking everything is going to be alright is actually shattered by her and everything that’s happened to her and her family. So in a way, I think she helps him grow even if by the end he doesn’t take all the chances he should.
Janet is presented as quite an unconventional person with many layers to her, but she also has this wonderful relationship with her stepson which we get to see. What was that like playing that side of things?
DH: It really was such a driving force for Janet. Essentially she’s a mother with a mother’s love, so then that’s what drives her to do this crazy thing, which ends up being potentially really dangerous. But it’s sort of a love story of a mother’s love for her son and I think that is what gives the show a really good heart.
The cinematic approach to this is so unique, the narrator voicing over the story as it unfolds, the title cards of a silent film: what do you think those established techniques give to this series?
PJ: That’s an interesting question. I think it makes it very watchable because you never quite know what you’re going to get because they make you both laugh but they also inform you about the next bits of the story. They’re very cleverly laid out as they don’t over-use them.
DH: Yes, they make it more playful in a sense and more creative.
PJ: I think there’s a confidence in going; I’m going to tell you a story and there’s going to be a lot of violence and it’s going to be weird but…
DH: Yes but I’m going to hold your hand a little bit with that…
PJ: Yes, I think that’s going to help any audience members who are sidling into it thinking it looks like an intellectual drama but they won’t feel like that because they’ll just be sucked in and I think the voiceover then just helps collate all the threads.
You have this amazing ensemble cast that includes Tchéky Karyo, Joanna Scanlan and Craig Fairbrass to name a few. What was it like working with them and being on set in Yorkshire?
DH: It was just really lovely, everyone was so good and so committed. We just had a really good time and everyone cared a lot about the project which means you’re all invested in it. It was a treat, everyone was so different too.
PJ: It really was. Tchéky is just fascinating, I could watch him acting all day and all night. He’s also got amazing stories to tell. Joanna is a brilliant comedic actress, so clever and funny and Craig, well I have a lot to do with him and those scenes with him were just like, wow, that guy, like I’ve seen him do his thing but he’s got so many layers.
DH: Yes, there’s more of him during the show that builds deeper in a way that’s really exciting. Every character has depth, it makes it better. Everyone’s got another layer to them, you think you’ve seen it all but then there’s more.
PJ: Everyone was joyful to work with, every single person.
PJ: Especially Daisy.
DH: Omg that’s so weird he’s never said that before.
PJ: And there’s months of it.
DH: I know, I’m so sorry!
Boat Story is released on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on 19th November 2023. Read our review here.
Watch the trailer for Boat Story here: