Where was North Water filmed? Filming locations of BBC Colin Farrell drama - including Svalbard in Norway

The series was filmed in various locations in the Arctic archipelago - a group of islands scattered in the ocean

BBC Two’s latest drama, The North Water, was shot far from BBC’s London Studios and at times put the actors in vulnerable situations.

Leading actors Colin Farrell and Stephen Graham have even commented that they felt close to death during some scenes, due to the perilous nature of Arctic weather and life at sea.

So, where was the BBC series shot - and can you visit the locations? This is what you need to know.

Where was The North Water filmed?

The North Water was filmed in the Arctic, with most of the shots featuring the stunning backdrop of Svalbard, a Norwegian Island.

Director of the series Andrew Haigh captured the truest form of life at sea, with all cast living on an old ship in the Arctic waters throughout the month of filming.

On shooting the five-part mini-series, Haigh said: “When I first read the book, I knew that I wanted to shoot it in the real environment.

“Most people do not shoot these kinds of things in the real environment, but for me it was fundamentally important. I didn’t really want to do it if I couldn’t do that.

“It was not an easy experience. It was very cold, sometimes terrifying, and really challenging, but to me that was what was so exciting about it. Luckily, we had a bunch of crew and actors who also thought this was exciting, so we could all do it together.”

The series was filmed throughout the Autumn of 2019, in three different locations of the Arctic archipelago - a group of islands scattered in the ocean.

Where were the shots on land filmed?

The main filming locations included Svalbard and Lilliehook Fjord.

The production team travelled more than 1,000 nautical miles around the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, sometimes just 22 miles from the North Pole.”

Leading actor Colin Farrell admitted he feared the worst at some points, while his co-star Stephen Graham has a near miss with death.

Farrell said: “I did feel that death was just around the corner at any given time, that we were just one mistake away from someone falling into the Arctic sea and either very quickly getting hypothermia or sinking under the weight of the waterlogged costume.

“There were also polar bears around, that are beautiful and elegant and majestic but also apex predators.”

The actors also revealed it was difficult to film an entire scene on the icy land, as often the ice would snap in two before the scenes were finalised.

Where were the shots at sea filmed?

In the series, the men can be seen on The Volunteer, which in real life was actually an “old-school” vessel named The Activ.

The ship was sent out to sea for three weeks, with the actors admitting it was a once in a lifetime experience but one which they were glad to also see the end of.

Jack O’Connell explained: “One night a polar bear came right up to the ship.

“It was like three in the morning and we all had to be up at seven. I’ll quote Colin. He was up watching this bear and a couple of us were on the stern, and he said: ‘Look man, you can’t go to bed while this is happening.’

“The chances are that we’ll never experience that again.”

However, Stephen Graham added that the experience was a near brush with death, as he

nearly became submerged by a huge wave at one point during the journey.

“I thought ‘I’m going to die in the middle of the Arctic in a fake fur coat,” he recalled from the frightening scenes.

The crew and cast sometimes shot scenes as far out as over 24 hours away from land.

Where are the docks scenes filmed?

The opening scenes of the series show the whaling vessel picking up crew in Hull, on the Humber river in the North East of England.

However, Hull looks distinctly different from what it did in 1859, when the scenes are set.

Therefore, these scenes were recreated in Budapest, which is also where some of the interior scenes from inside The Volunteer were shot.

Can you visit the Arctic?

You can cruise around the Arctic, though due to climate change there are increasing sanctions on tourism.

Arctic tourism covers Svalbard and the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen, Greenland, Arctic Canada, the Russian Arctic National Park and Iceland.

Svalbard is the northernmost year-round settlement on Earth, and is also populated by species such as the Arctic Fox, bearded seal, humpback whale, polar bears and Svalbard reindeer.

In recent years, Svalbard has become a popular cruise destination and tourism hot spot for wildlife enthusiasts and scientific researchers.

Due to changes to the climate, caused by CO2 emissions and other factors, the temperature of Svalbard - known for its icy glaciers and Arctic marine wildlife - has skyrocketed by 7.7 degrees in the past three decades.

As a result, the island has now capped numbers of tourists visiting the island from cruise liners to 200 per vessel and halted all helicopter and submarine tourism.

The Norwegian Environment agency said tourism to the island has grown by nearly four times its 1990s estimate - from 29,600 in 1996 to 124,000 in 2019.

Norwegian luxury state-of-the-art liner Scenic Eclipse, has also been denied access to the island’s water for the purpose of submarine sightseeing.

The company offers a 12-day tour around Svalbard from €13,304 per person, with the chance to go on  on it’s submarine, Scenic Neptune, which can submerge up to 300 metres, carrying six passengers plus the pilot on swivel chairs for sightseeing through two acrylic spheres.

The governor of Svalbard has scuppered plans for the submarine to be deployed, as well as bringing an end to drone usage on some parts of the island and capping the use of helicopters.

The restrictions on tourism have increased significantly since 2018, when a tour guide shot dead a polar bear which had attacked a crew member who had gone out onto the island to make sure it was safe for tourists to disembark.

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