The BBC is now filming its own version of the Noah story

It seems like every time a Bible movie hits the big screen, the BBC does its own version of the story a few years later. The Passion of the Christ came out in 2004. The BBC aired The Passion in 2008. The Nativity Story came out in 2006. The BBC aired The Nativity in 2010.

So now, of course, with Darren Aronofsky’s Noah still in theatres around the world, the BBC is planning its own version of the Noah story, called The Ark — and instead of waiting four years to produce it, they have already started filming it.

The Independent in Ireland reports that The Ark started filming in Morocco last week, and that it stars David Threlfall as Noah and Joanne Whalley as his wife “Emmie”. Unlike Aronofsky’s somewhat grim take on the story, though, The Ark producer Belinda Campbell says the BBC’s version will be “warm and humorous”.

Threlfall has appeared in at least two TV-based Bible movies before. He played Joseph in Mary, Mother of Jesus (1999) and Aaron in In the Beginning (2000).

The cast will also include Ashley Walters and other actors of African descent, which suggests the BBC will take a dfferent approach to the question of racial diversity, and the degree to which it existed before the Flood, than Aronofsky’s film did.

The BBC’s official press release adds that the Noah of this film will be “instructed by an angel” to build the Ark, which is a detail not found in the Bible or in most major film versions of this story. (Usually, Noah has received his instructions directly from God, via a disembodied voice or, as in Aronofsky’s film, a series of dreams.)

Given that Exodus: Gods and Kings is coming out at the end of the year, is it safe to assume that the BBC will soon be tackling the Moses story too?

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About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).