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The North Water: meet the cast of BBC Two drama

Meet the cast of the hit show, from Jack O’Connell to Colin Farrell 

Emmy Griffiths

The North Water has been gripping viewers since landing on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer in September, and follows a whaling expedition to the Arctic as a disgraced army surgeon, Patrick Sumner, joins the ship only to discover that there is another purpose for the expedition. So who stars in the show? Find out here… 

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Patrick Sumner - Jack O’Connell

Jack is perhaps best known for his roles in Skins and Unbroken. In the show, he plays Patrick, the ship’s doctor on board The Volunteer, a whaling ship sailing from Hull, bound for the North Water.

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He has recently returned from India, where he worked as an army surgeon, but keeps the bitter secret of his court-martial close to his chest. He’s also struggling with a laudanum addiction and impulsively takes the job aboard the ship.

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Henry Drax - Colin Farrell

The prolific Colin Farrell has starred in films including The Gentlemen, The Lobster, Total Recall and Miami Vice to name but a few - but rarely stars in TV shows. In the drama, he plays Drax, a harpooner. The synopsis reads: “Some say he’s a heathen, more animal than man, but the way he sees it, he is simply driven by instinct. Pragmatic, physically imposing and devoid of empathy, Drax is a man who exists to sate the urges he feels. Morality or decency matter little to him.”

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Captain Brownlee - Stephen Graham

The man of the moment, Stephen has starred in recent hits including Channel 4’s Help and BBC’s Time alongside Sean Bean - and of course, has previously starred in Boardwalk Empire and Line of Duty. In his role in The North Water, he stars as Captain Brownless, a whaling man. 

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He knows how to captain a ship through the perilous Arctic waters, how to slaughter the whales until the sea turns red, and how to fill the hold with their blubber. The trouble is, the whales are running out. The whaling industry has driven them close to extinction. And while Brownlee is loyal to his ship and his motley crew, his loyalty is first and foremost to himself.

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Baxter - Tom Courtenay

Tom has previously starred in The Royle Family, Unforgotten and Little Dorrit, and stars in the new drama as Baxter, the owner of a fleet of whaling ships, including The Volunteer. Speaking about his role, he told the BBC: “I don’t know that I can relate to the character of Baxter. There’s a sort of northern thing of saying things as they are, which I do have a feeling for. But, I could never be as brutal as he is, so it was quite fun to pretend to be ruthless.”

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Cavendish - Sam Spruell

Sam is best known for starring in Legend, The Hurt Locker and Luther. He plays the First Mate aboard, employed by Baxter because he does what he’s told and doesn’t show the kind of initiative that might derail Baxter’s plans.

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He was born with sea legs, and once onboard, Cavendish is in his element. But when the ship arrives in the North Water, events quickly spiral out of control. Suddenly Cavendish is catapulted into authority and called upon to take charge of the crew. Does he have what it takes to get his men back to safety?

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