Noel's Ark

Created by Jake Lancaster, The Pitch 2018

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A dark comedy about loneliness, love and the apocalypse. Noel is a lonely old man living on a council estate in Sunderland. His wife has died and children moved away. After seeing terrifying images of climate change on the news, he believes the world is going to end, and becomes a Doomsday prepper, or survivalist. He fills a canal boat with tinned food, amateur weapons and caged animals of both sexes, from the local pet shop. Being Sunderland the wildlife isn’t diverse: a couple of cats, dogs, rats and two budgies. He’s ready for the end of days, but is missing one crucial thing: a female of his own species. Despite his best efforts the local older ladies are put off by his bizarre offer and worldview. Giving up hope, for himself and civilisation, he returns the animals to the pet shop. There he meets Pam: she doesn’t find him strange at all. They share a brandy on his boat, and slowly fall for each other. As he does he realises how ridiculous his prepper dream was – she is his new world. They set the animals free and sail off down the canal together. Above, a rainbow shines.

Biblical Connection

Genesis Chapters 6-9: Noah’s Ark. A famous one I know, but one of my favourites and one that feels increasingly relevant. After the summer of 2018 we all felt climate change, as we saw flooding, famine and fire across the world. Sometime I think Noah’s big boat doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. It struck me that the Noah of the Old Testament wasn’t too dissimilar to the preppers or survivalists of today... My film is a contemporary comedy: Noel is a Northern, budget Noah – there are no leopards or monkeys in Sunderland. And his Ark is a shoddy canal barge… Scholars have understood the Ark as a fable of keeping strength in turbulent times. Noel’s world is going through such turbulence, as is the world in which we live. When Noah sends out a dove, and it brings back the olive branch, that’s an iconic message of hope. Noel’s journey is the same, and it ends with hope through newfound love. My adaptation is a witty and gritty modern retelling of the ancient flood story. It has the same messages at its heart, but wrapped in a smart comic format.