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Top of the Lake

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SundanceTV, BBC Two

Top of the Lake wwwgstaticcomtvthumbtvbanners9750036p975003

Created by
Jane CampionGerard Lee

Written by
Jane CampionGerard Lee

Directed by
Jane CampionGarth Davis

Elisabeth MossDavid WenhamPeter MullanThomas M. WrightHolly Hunter

Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television


Broadchurch, Mad Men, The Fall (TV series)

Top of the lake launch trailer bbc two

Top of the Lake is a mystery drama television series created and written by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee, and directed by Campion and Garth Davis. Its first season aired in 2013, with the second season, entitled "China Girl", set to air in 2017. It marks Campion's first work for television since An Angel at My Table in 1990. Filmed and set in New Zealand, the series follows a detective (Elisabeth Moss), and the first season deals with the investigation of the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old girl. Top of the Lake was co-produced for BBC Two in the UK, BBC UKTV in Australia and New Zealand, and Sundance Channel in the United States.


Main cast

  • Elisabeth Moss as Det. Robin Griffin, a Sydney police officer returning to her remote New Zealand hometown of Laketop, facing the crimes surrounding the pregnancy and disappearance of a local 12-year-old girl, Tui.
  • David Wenham as Det. Sgt. Al Parker, the old school and well-liked head of the local police station, who also has a cafĂ© where young offenders are given a second chance.
  • Peter Mullan as Scotsman Matt Mitcham, head of the Mitcham family. The informal leader of the town, feared by the townspeople, but with a complex inner life.
  • Tom Wright as Johnno Mitcham, Matt's estranged youngest son, and Robin's high school sweetheart. He recently returned to Laketop after serving eight years in Bangkwang, a Thai prison, for drug possession.
  • Holly Hunter as GJ, an androgynous spiritual leader, arriving at Laketop with a group of troubled women, who hope GJ and Laketop will help them rediscover themselves.
  • Supporting cast

  • Kip Chapman and Jay Ryan as Luke and Mark Mitcham, Matt's brute sons.
  • Jacqueline Joe as Tui Mitcham, Matt's 12-year-old daughter who disappears after it is discovered that she is pregnant.
  • Robyn Nevin as Jude Griffin, Robin's mother, suffering from cancer.
  • Calvin Tuteao as Turangi, Jude's caring boyfriend.
  • Season two: China Girl

    Elisabeth Moss returns as Robin Griffin with new cast members Gwendoline Christie and Nicole Kidman.

    Season 1

    Actress Jennifer Ehle auditioned for the role of GJ, which went to Holly Hunter. Jane Campion originally offered the role of Robin to Anna Paquin, who had worked with her before on The Piano (1993). Paquin declined due to her pregnancy, and the role went to Elisabeth Moss.

    The series was originally intended as a co-production with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, but the network pulled their funding when American-born Elisabeth Moss was cast in the lead role. Australian-based channel UKTV, owned by BBC Worldwide, filled the funding gap left by the ABC. Philippa Campbell was the New Zealand-based producer.

    Filming took 18 weeks and was shot entirely on location in Queenstown and Glenorchy, in New Zealand. While Queenstown is referred to during the series, Glenorchy doubles as the fictitious town of Laketop. The scenes in the women's commune were filmed at Moke Lake.

    Season 2

    In early 2013, series co-creator Jane Campion said that season one of Top of the Lake comes to a distinct ending and there would be no additional seasons. Despite this, it was announced in October 2014 that the series has been renewed for a second season. In season two, which will be set and filmed in Sydney, Australia, Griffin will investigate a case in Harbour City, Hong Kong. Shooting began in December 2015.

    Jane Campion returned as co-writer and co-director along with Gerard Lee. The co-director of season 1 was replaced by Ariel Kleiman due to scheduling conflicts. Actress Nicole Kidman has joined the cast for season 2, which is the second time she has worked with Campion.


    The first season screened in its entirety at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, in January 2013, as a miniseries. Sundance screened the series as a seven-hour program with one intermission and one lunch break; it was the first miniseries ever screened at Sundance. Top of the Lake was additionally shown at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival.

    The series premiered on the Sundance Channel in the United States on 18 March 2013, in Australia on BBC UKTV on 24 March 2013, and in New Zealand the next day (25 March), also on BBC UKTV.


    Reviews of Top of the Lake have been positive, referring to the series as "masterfully made", "beautiful", "mysterious", "riveting", and "a masterpiece". It received a score of 86 out of 100 from Metacritic and a score of 93 percent from Rotten Tomatoes.

    There were also some less positive reviews. Mike Hale of The New York Times criticized the "elaborately introduced plotlines" and described Tui's disappearance as "less a story element than a metaphor for the kind of armed resistance to male hegemony that constitutes the central idea of Ms. Campion’s body of work." That said, Top of the Lake has also been lauded by feminist critics for its explicit effort to analyse rape culture as well as its radical construction of narratives entirely foregrounding the experiences of single women.


    Top of the Lake Wikipedia