Dir: David L Williams. UK. 2009. 87 mins


Quirky and entertaining, and with a message lurking just below the laughs, Beyond the Pole is an ambitiously smart low-budget British mockumentary that wins with its energy and intelligent humour. A modestly successful UK release points to a film that is worth a risk for territories where British humour has been proven to work.

Beyond the Pole is an enjoyably oddball independent British comedy, made with an engaging edginess.

Based on the Radio 4 comedy, the film has a rich sense of humour as it tells the story of two eco-warrior best mates Brian and Mark who head off on with the intention of being the first carbon neutral, organic and vegetarian expedition to make it to the North Pole.

Before long the poorly kitted-out pair are in trouble as they bicker during their poorly planned journey…and worse still, they are in danger of being overtaken by a two-man Norwegian team. Stephen Mangan (from TV’s Green Wing) is especially impressive as the determined Mark, while international audiences will also enjoy the appearance of Alexander Skarsgård (from True Blood and Generation Kill) as Terje, one of the Norwegian team.

Director – and co-scripter/producer – David L Williams keeps it all straightforward and affable, making great jokes at the expense of green do-gooders while also detailing dangers to the environment. Williams’ wife (and executive producer) actress Helen Baxendale (from Friends and Cold Feet) makes a nice cameo as the documentary-maker who initially follows the twosome.

Beyond the Pole is an enjoyably oddball independent British comedy, made with an engaging edginess.

Production company: Shooting Pictures

International sales: HanWay Films, www.hanwayfilms.com

Producers: David L Williams, Andrew Curtis

Executive producer: Helen Baxendale

Screenplay: Neil Warhurst, David L Williams

Cinematography: Stuart Biddlecombe

Editor: Rob Miller

Music: Guy Michelmore

Main cast: Stephen Mangan, Rhys Thomas, Alexander Skarsgård, Helen Baxendale, Lars Arentz-Hansen, Mark Benton, Rosie Cavaliero