Claustrophobic with no way on or off and no way of getting away from someone you don’t agree with – an oil rig lends itself so perfectly as the setting of a drama, it’s a surprise we don’t see more shows based on them.
New supernatural thriller simply called The Rig sees a crew cut off from the mainland when a mysterious thick fog appears, and with no communication with the outside world and plenty of dissent among the characters, it’s not long until things start unravelling.
The first Amazon Video original to be shot entirely in Scotland, the show boasts a stellar cast of Scottish actors including Martin Compston, Iain Glen and Mark Bonnar, and also includes Schitt’s Creek star Emily Hampshire playing a character we’ve not seen her do before.
She told Sky News she sees parallels between the lives of those working on rigs, and those in her own profession.
“It’s similar to an actor’s life without all the danger.
“When I read it – because I knew nothing about rigs or that industry – I did think it was similar in the way that you go into this bubble with these people who you have to become close with instantly and then you’re going to leave.
“And forming really close attachments that you can be detached to after was something that I’m comfortable with and know.”
There was also some familiarity in the script for Line Of Duty star Martin Compston.
Brought up in Greenock in Scotland’s west central lowlands, the actor’s own father worked on oil rigs, and friends of his still do.
He told Sky News: “It was lovely to lean on them because being an actor, it can feel otherworldly to people who are not in the industry, so it was nice to lean on them and ask them about different things.
“But I’m sure they’ll pick me up on a few things when it comes out.
“Because my dad still works in the shipyards, I got to give him my boots after the thing, which was lovely!”
As well as being a supernatural drama, The Rig also serves as an environmental warning.
But Compston says that doesn’t change the fact that they’re there to serve an audience.
“I think our first role is to entertain, to get something with a message across it has to be entertaining first or people are just going to switch off, you know?
“So I think that’s what David’s [Macpherson – the show’s creator] script does really well, it’s high octane, it’s enjoyable, and then I mean, climate change is here, it’s not up for debate and we should be very proud of what we achieved in the North Sea in terms of the feats of engineering, and being Scottish it’s a part of our heritage we should cherish and it’s still got a role to play going forward, but that role is getting greatly reduced.
“The world’s changing and we need to evolve with it – Mark Bonner’s got that wonderful line – ‘you keep punching holes in the earth, eventually it’s going to punch back’.”
Hampshire says she was keen to be involved in the show because she wanted to play the scientist Rose in the hope she would become more like her.
The actress admitted: “I just love how work obsessed she is because I’m that way.
“But she’s this woman who goes into this man’s world and is unapologetic about it and doesn’t care about being liked, which was something – I’m Canadian, we’re sorry for everything, ‘I’m so sorry I exist’.
“I wanted some of that Rose kind of like, doesn’t give a s**t to rub off on me.”
The role brought her to Scotland for the first time, but she says she felt very at home in the country.
“I just instantly felt like these are my people in a way – coz I’m Canadian and we are very different from Americans – there is really this connection, I feel, with UK actors and Scottish actors and people that we can make fun of ourselves.
“And there’s a sense of humour that I respond to, that you guys have.”
For Compston the opportunity to film a whole series without leaving his home country was something he really enjoyed.
“I’m chuffed to bits with it.
“The industry up there just feels like it’s thriving and [on previous jobs] people would come up to the location shoots – I’ve even done that myself on a big location movie – and then we come down and do the studio down south.
“But the fact now we have these facilities, and we can actually keep our crew, our very talented crews local and have work there you know, I’m delighted with it.”
The Rig is out on Prime Video today.