First announced in April of this year, John Boyega and David Gyasi are 2 actors in the ensemble cast of a new BBC feature drama titled The Whale

Said to be based on the the book, The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by A Whale, here’s how it’s described:

In 1820, the Nantucket whaleship Essex, thousands of miles from home in the South Pacific, was rammed by an angry sperm whale. The Essex sank, leaving twenty crew members floating in three small boats for ninety days. The incident was the Titanic story of its day, and provided the inspiration for Melville’s Moby-Dick.


The 90 minute drama, directed by Alrick Riley, is set to premiere this Christmas on BBC One.

Boyega and Gyasi are joined by Martin SheenCharles FurnessJoe Armstrong, Jassa AhluwaliaPaul KayeAdam Rayner and Jonas Armstrong who leads the cast as First Mate Owen Chase.

Via BBC press release, shooting took place in Malta earlier this spring, on what the network is calling an “action-packed narrative.” 

Here’s more:

It will follow the ill-fated voyage of The Essex through the eyes of the cabin boy Thomas Nickerson who, at 14, was the youngest member of the crew and one of only eight survivors of the shipwreck. Before he died in 1883, aged 78, Nickerson wrote a detailed account of his experiences which will form the basis of The Whale’s chronology, geography, characters, and main events; these are the same events that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. It follows Nickerson as, against all odds, he comes through the worst that nature throws at him, growing up fast in the process.  He faces the destructive force of sea-storms, the power of whales, the brutal desolation of the sun and sea after the shipwreck, and finally the grim realities of dark deeds as his only means of survival.

While this is set to air on BBC in the UK, it was reported earlier this year that the Discovery Channel is co-producing the movie, and will air it in the USA. Although no dates given.

In the meantime, here’s your first look at The Whale: