Boat Story star Paterson Joseph has praised the inclusion of sign language in the BBC's darkly comic thriller.


The story follows two complete strangers – Samuel (Joseph) and Janet (Daisy Haggard) – who happen to stumble on a shipwreck early one morning, containing two dead bodies and a lot of cocaine.

Rather than report the incident, they keep the illegal substance for themselves and intend to sell it on for an eye-watering sum, but alas, things very quickly spiral wildly out of control.

Alongside the crime element, Boat Story delves into the family lives of its two leads, with Janet battling for custody of her adopted son and Samuel hiding a big secret from his wife, Camilla (Michele Austin) and daughter, Anya (Cherie Gordon).

Anya is deaf and communicates with her parents primarily through British Sign Language (BSL), with Joseph praising its seamless integration into the show.

"I feel like I learned a lot about how you silently communicate and how much it lends itself to acting… It felt like we were communicating very clearly," he told

"Our conversations were brilliant because she was obviously able to teach me stuff that would be more colloquial between a father and a daughter. And you can individualise it, you can make it more ‘you’ than just basic BSL."

Joseph continued: "And it's just wonderful because you look the person in the eye and you're going out of yourself to communicate with them. I love those scenes.

Anya (Cherie Gordon) stands indoors wearing a coat
Cherie Gordon stars in Boat Story BBC/Two Brothers/Des Willie

"And what I've also liked about watching it is that [the editors] have taken out some of the subtitles, so as an audience you're having to watch [the hand gestures] as well."

Other high-profile shows to include deaf representation in recent years include Marvel's Hawkeye and its upcoming spin-off Echo, mystery comedy Only Murders in the Building, post-apocalyptic thriller The Last of Us and Sex Education season 4.

On Boat Story, Joseph added: "It wasn't gimmicky. It felt truly like it was part of the landscape of Samuel's life; that he's got both this very selfish, narcissistic way about him, but he also has this other outlet, which is his love for his daughter and his love for his wife."

Boat Story comes from the mind of screenwriting brothers Harry and Jack Williams, with the unpredictable tale proving arguably even more chaotic than their smash-hit earlier work The Tourist.

Boat Story premieres on BBC One and iPlayer on Sunday 19th November 2023. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.

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