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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best arts magazine in the UK“, Stephen Fry is part of new folk horror film, Black Samphire, that features Britain’s polluted rivers as its monster, backed by campaigner Feargal Sharkey.

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Black Samphire

Set in the marshes of West Sussex, new indie film, Black Samphire, stars Ishtar Currie-Wilson from Netflix hit Lockwood & Co and 20th Century Studios horror The First Omen, and has been backed by campaigner Feargal Sharkey’s charity River Action UK. The film was released as in March 2024, statistics revealed that Thames Water had pumped human waste into the Greater London area of the River Thames for a staggering 1,914 hours since the start of 2024 – equivalent to 79 days.

The horror is a cautionary tale which examines the “deathly spectre” of toxic pollution and human waste entering the waterways of the United Kingdom and the consequences of its damage. Multi-Bafta nominated actor Stephen Fry voices the boss of the overworked journalist Mari, played by Cathy Wippell, who has taken her girlfriend, Isla, played by Currie-Wilson, on a weekend break. 

What better genre to tell the horror story of the national river pollution scandal than folk horror? By supporting this film, River Action raises the deathly spectre of the collapse of our rivers and wildlife to show viewers that this catastrophe is real and affects us all.

-James Wallace, CEO of River Action UK

Cathy Wippell

The film was written by open water swimmer, Cathy Wippell after she became concerned about swimming in West Sussex where she grew up as pollution warnings were issued in some of the swimming spots.

It’s shocking that the water pollution crisis has come to this disastrous level. The waters I swam in as a child had several pollution warnings issued on them last year. Delicate ecosystems and wildlife around waterways and rivers are being destroyed at a terrifying rate. As filmmakers, we want to spread awareness of this issue to a new audience.

– Cathy Wippell
Black Samphire on The Table Read Magazine
Black Samphire

Silicon Gothic

The film is being produced by Silicon Gothic, which Wippell co-founded with filmmaker Joseph Archer. The independent, British film company aims to ‘monstify’ modern day issues like climate change and bring them to life in entertaining horror and thriller narratives. The company then uses these narratives to push awareness and inspire action against these issues.

In our film the real monster is river pollution. Whilst the characters never say the word pollution in the film, it’s clear that the poisoned water then poisons the land, and then the people around it. It’s subtle, but gives the message we want.

-executive producer Joseph Archer at Silicon Gothic

I think that horror has always been the leading genre in making significant and accessible cultural commentary and with our current climate crisis there has never been a more important time to bring these stories to the big screen. I would expect to see a lot more environmentally focused films within the years to come.

-Actor Ishtar Currie-Wilson

Silicon Gothic also performs at least one climate positive action for each film they produce. For ‘Black Samphire’, this was river and beach cleans with the cast and crew on East Wittering beach in Sussex and on the Thames outside the BFI Southbank, London. 

Black Samphire on The Table Read Magazine
Black Samphire

River Action UK

We have been ripped off for too long. It is time for urgent regulatory reform and polluting industries to clean up their mess. We must end river pollution now.

-Feargal Sharkey, vocal river activist and Vice Chair of River Action

The film is set in the marshlands of Chichester harbour in West Sussex. The large natural harbour, which is a protected area of outstanding beauty, saw more than 1,200 hours of raw human sewage discharged into it in just November last year by Southern Water. Campaigners at the time described it as “an assault on the environment.”

Rivers and streams bring us all solace and enchantment. To befoul them with our shit is a desecration of everything we should hold dear.

-Stephen Fry, when he supported River Action UK’s previous campaign ‘This Is Shit’.

Find more on Black Samphire now:

Black Samphire IMDB:

Ishtar Currie-Wilson IMDB:

Stephen Fry IMDB:

Cathy Wippell IMDB:

Silicon Gothic website:

River Action UK website:

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