The Daily Telegraph

Whimsical crime thriller washes up gore galore

- Jasper Rees

It would be unfair to see Boat Story (Sun, BBC Two) as wholly derivative, because it boasts plenty of original flourishes. Yet there is a very recent precedent for its plot premise: blameless civilians chance upon a vast stash of drugs, decide to sell it, thus coming to the attention of scary, stop-at-nothing criminals. No this is not Stephen Merchant’s The Outlaws but might they perhaps be related?

In this case, the bricks of cocaine are found on a beached fishing boat by Janet (Daisy Haggard) and Samuel (Paterson Joseph) when dogwalking. Random strangers yoked together by fate – and the need for cash – they are soon reacting to events that spin far beyond their control. Among those seeking retributio­n or compensati­on or both is a gnarled French cartel boss who styles himself The Tailor (Tchéky Karyo) and his trigger-happy enforcer Guy (Craig Fairbrass).

This boxsetted six-parter is the latest from the Williams brothers Harry and Jack, who started in comedy before shifting into laughless thrillers. Marrying up the two at times, it makes for an ungainly merger that slaloms too wildly between carefree irony and repellent savagery. In the first episode, a tongue is severed with brutal nonchalanc­e while bodies pile profligate­ly high in a Tarantino-esque killing spree.

Boat Story’s script throws all the inverted commas it can think of around this next-level videogame violence. There are regular updates from an oh-so-knowing deep-voiced American narrator, while flickering silent-movie plates announce the next chapter with arch titles. At a certain point the entire drama finds itself being played out as a meta-musical.

The clever-cleverness is diverting, but to stick with it you’ll need to give a fig. Paterson and Haggard (whose character has for no relevant reason lost her hand in an industrial accident) are blessedly likeable: every time someone threatens to waste them, you cross fingers for their preservati­on. Meanwhile, much effort is made to humanise the villains. One of them aches to be a potter, another is addicted to fortune telling, and The Tailor no sooner arrives from France than he’s fallen in love with pasties, and mystifying­ly with the baker (Joanna Scanlan) who makes them.

Years ago, the Williamses incurred audience wrath with the maddening denouement of The Missing. By Boat Story’s last episode there is much discussion about how the story might end, and this is perhaps just another way of copping out. But it’s mostly good fun while it lasts.

To perform stunts in films calls for great physical bravery and tolerance of pain. That much is clear from footage of David Holmes flying and crashing about the set of the Harry Potter films, creating all of Daniel Radcliffe’s action sequences. He is a tiny human cannonball, a fizzing marvel who gets biffed and buffeted so that, over six successive films, the boy wizard can look like a mini action-hero.

On the seventh film there was an accident. Someone got the weights wrong on a pulley system and 27-yearold Holmes flew far too fast into a crash mat. Hanging limply in a harness, he knew his neck was broken. David

Holmes: The Boy Who Lived (Sat, Sky Documentar­ies) movingly followed the catastroph­e and its extraordin­ary aftermath. Extraordin­ary because Holmes has found a way to carry on with a bright song in his heart and a puckish smile on his face.

Dan Hartley’s film tracked back to Holmes’s childhood as a gymnastic prodigy and his recruitmen­t to the Pottervers­e, where he proudly claims to have notched up more broomstick airmiles than anyone on Earth. Then came the injury. A saintly friend called Tommy cares for him in a bright and airy house that looks like the product of an almighty insurance pay-out.

This is also the story of the friends whose lives have carried on as normal, but with this traumatisi­ng shadow: fellow stuntmen he grew up on set with, and Radcliffe himself. All seem to suffer from survivor’s guilt.

Holmes, exuding Essexy bonhomie, makes an effort to be cheerful company. But the brave mask slips as he dreads the loss of upper-body function. And there’s no shifting the haunted look on the face of Greg Powell, the gnarly stunt coordinato­r who simply can’t handle Holmes’s paralysis. “He wouldn’t be like that if he hadn’t have met me,” he reasoned.

This quietly inspiring portrait of stoicism ended, in a vast warehouse where Holmes and Radcliffe looked at all the Potter props and costumes. Holmes tries on the sorting hat whose role is to read character traits. There’s no doubt what it would have to say.

Boat Story ★★★★

David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived ★★★★

 ?? ?? Paterson Joseph and Daisy Haggard star in tongue-in-cheek thriller Boat Story
Paterson Joseph and Daisy Haggard star in tongue-in-cheek thriller Boat Story
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