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Film and TV

The North Water

BBC Pictures

Set in the 19th century, The North Water is a superb “dirty bomb of a five-part drama”, says Benji Wilson in the Telegraph. Phlegmatic skipper Captain Brownlee (Stephen Graham) has instructions from his paymaster to scuttle his Yorkshire whaler for the insurance money. Amid the pitiless pack ice, things spiral out of his control. The crew is stuffed with addicts and psychopaths. A “monumental” Colin Farrell plays Henry Drax, a seal-clubbing, man-murdering “evil Hagrid” who “makes Captain Ahab look like Captain Pugwash”. The ship’s good doctor, Patrick Sumner – the “terrific” Jack O’Connell – is all at sea. In short, “everything goes a bit The Raft of the Medusa”.

I can’t fathom why the BBC shoved this “floating Nietzschean experiment” into the Friday-night graveyard slot, says Ed Cumming in The Independent. It’s brilliant but hardly light entertainment. Adapted from Ian McGuire’s novel of the same name by Andrew Haigh, it reproduces the book’s “claustrophobia and dread” perfectly – even borrowing much of the dialogue. Drax is “villain of the year” and betrayal, thievery and violent death are the rule. “Maybe it’s only the stupid, the brilliantly stupid, who will inherit the earth,” writes Sumner in his journal.

The North Water is on BBC Two on Fridays at 9.30pm. Watch a trailer here.  

You may have missed … Money Heist

Strangely, Britain has been late catching on to this “world-changing, cultural juggernaut of a TV show”, says Ellen E Jones in The Guardian. A flamboyant crime caper, now in its fifth season on Netflix, it is a palate cleanser to “grittily downbeat” British equivalents and “pared-back” Scandi noirs. Island escapes and sizzling sunny romances are the norm. In the first series, its gang – memorably clad in revolutionary-red overalls and Salvador Dalí masks – break into the Royal Mint of Spain, taking 67 people hostage and literally printing money: €2.4bn.

Money Heist – or to use its more elegant Spanish title, La casa de papel – is a “thrilling jolt from the stasis of self-isolation”, says Jade Cuttle in The Times. A plot is packed with cliff-hangers and breakaways mid-action. It’s a frenetic heist show one minute, a black comedy the next. The dizzying approach derives from the dubious wisdom of a clown whom the show’s creator, Álex Pina, overheard saying: “The more f***ed up the situation is, the louder they laugh.”

All five series of Money Heist are available on Netflix. Watch a trailer here