New Zealand: Top of the Lake by Jane Campion

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By coincidence there’s been a fair bit about New Zealand creativity on this blog recently. More on that later, I hope, but meanwhile I had to find time to alert those of you who have been giving TV a miss over the summer to the brilliant mini-series on BBC2 this summer, Top of the Lake by Jane Campion. Positive tip-offs came from extended family in New Zealand even before the show started to air here in the UK, and I was intrigued when a friend said with his typical NZ understatement that the series “doesn’t show New Zealand men in a very good light”. But having recently caught up with the latest episodes, I wanted to share this while the six-parter is  still live on the iPlayer.

In a blog post about the series Campion rather disarmingly says “A lot of time in writing is spent wondering if you’re hopeless”. I don’t think she has too much to worry about there, either on the evidence of the slew of award nominations for the series, or her film career. Set in the chilled and dramatic bush landscape of Central Otago in New Zealand’s South Island, the Top of the Lake miniseries has won comparisons with ‘Twin Peaks’ due to its storyline about a missing girl. However a slightly more conventional approach to narrative is employed (thankfully in my opinion), and the 6-part series is not only gorgeous to look at and full of fascinating characters, but has a tightly constructed storyline full of small-town mystery and slow but steady reveals.

Best of all if you feel like a couple of nights in or a massive catch up session (and live in the UK), ALL the episodes are available this week and next from the BBC iplayer, with the grand finale out this Saturday. First episode [BBC link]. 

If you’re into finding out more about Campion’s process there is also a documentary of her at work with her co-writer Gerard Lee.

2 thoughts on “New Zealand: Top of the Lake by Jane Campion

  1. I really enjoyed this series. It has some quite surreal moments, and a few decidedly odd ones, but it’s compelling viewing. I’ve enjoyed everything of Campion’s I’ve seen.


    • Yeah, agree some odd stuff, maybe that is why I like it. In all this Kiwiana I should have said co-writer Gerard Lee, like Campion, is Australian. A big mix of nationalities went into the writing, producing, acting and making of TOTL.


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