The Boat That Rocked – Our Film Review

Our look at the British film comedy set in the world of 1960s pirate radio out on the rusty ships


The Boat That Rocked DVDHere at Radio and Telly HQ, we loved this film. Probably something to do with the fact that we love radio, and this film looks back to the great days of rock and roll radio.

The film, released in April 2009, is written by Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually and Blackadder), and it’s a comedy set aboard Rock Radio, a fictitious pirate radio station ship moored off the British coast in the 1960s.

Although it’s hardly an accurate portrayal of what went on in the sixties offshore pirate world, it’s a good solid watch. If you used to listen to the pirate stations such as Radio Caroline or Laser 558, or have any interest in the history of radio, then you’ll get lots from the film – a lighthearted look at some of the challenges of being cast adrift at sea with a bunch of radio oddballs, and some of the battles with the UK Government of the day

The characters broadcasting from Radio Rock in the North Sea bear a more than a passing resemblance to some of the original sixties pirates (notably Tony Blackburn and the Emperor Rosko!). And as with all Richard Curtis films, there’s a bunch of well-known names in there, and the characters are in general a lovable bunch.

This is a great comedy, and it’s certainly a must-see for anyone with an interest in radio broadcasting in the UK, and it helps tell the tale of how we ended up with the radio industry we have today.


The Story

Young Carl is deposited aboard a pirate radio ship out in the North Sea, and he has a lot to learn

Radio Rock is blasting out pop to Britain, whilst the BBC is broadcasting the Home Service. The Government needs to shut down the pirate, whatever the cost.

On board shop, an old face returns to dominate the radio airwaves, and Young Carl loses the girl and wins a cup of tea

Watch out for John the weather guy, Bob (who’s Bob?), and the game scene with Thick Kevin.


The Boat That Rocked Trailer

Want to get a taster of the film? Here’s the official movie trailer:

The Boat That Rocked – Cast:

The Good Guys:

  • Quentin – Bill Nighy (Hitch-hikers Movie and Love Actually)
  • The Count – Philip Seymour Hoffman (Talented Mr Ripley)
  • Dave – Nick Frost (Spaced, Hot Fuzz)
  • Simple Simon – Chris O’Dowd (IT Crowd, FM)
  • Thick Kevin – Tom Brooke (Son of Paul Brooke from Kit Curran)
  • Will Adamsdale … News John
  • Felicity – Katherine Parkinson(IT Crowd, Doc Martin)

The Bad Guys:

Order The Boat That Rocked Now:

The DVD appeared in September 2009… go get one!

Download the film:


Key Dates:

  • UK Cinema Release: 1st of April 2009
  • UK DVD Release: 7th September 2009.

Movie Trivia


If you’ve got any thoughts on The Boat That Rocked, please post a message in our UK Comedy Forum




  • Duncan Hill

    Someone must have seen a different film, because “The Boat That Rocked” is literally the worst film about offshore radio, I would go far to say it’s an insult to those who worked on or supported the real offshore vessels (such as the Ross Revenge of Radio Caroline before it ceased in 1990). Anyone who likes this film is no fan of free radio. Shame on “Radio and Telly HQ”.

  • Steve

    Hi Duncan,

    As you’ve probably worked out, you’re not the target market for this film. It’s intended to be a lighthearted comedy story set in the era of offshore radio, not a documentary of Radio Caroline.

    This sort of thing happens all the time in film-making and TV. Here are some of the more popular examples:

    There was much outrage when the Life of Brian was released, as many felt it to be an untrue representation of the life of Jesus Christ.

    Many got upset by shows like Allo Allo making light of World War II

    Every major war film is picked to bits as not being a true representation of what happened in a particular conflict, and sci-fi films and shows are picked to bits for scientific inaccuracy.

    Out of interest, do you feel that Richard Curtis’s other work Blackadder is shameful for its false portrayal of events of that era?

    I appreciate it’s not for you, but it was enjoyed by a significant number of people. It’s also clear that this is not a documentary about offshore radio (just as Blackadder IV wasn’t a documentary about the First World War).


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