HMS Terror: built in Topsham now a TV Drama series

The Terror is an exciting Drama/Horror series that starts on BBC 2 on Wednesday 3rd March 2021. Named after the 2007 novel by Dan Simmons, it was developed by David Kajganich and is a fictionalized account of Captain Sir John Franklin’s expedition to the Arctic in 1845–1848. The series is inspired by true events and is a fictionalised account of Captain Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition to the Arctic. It follows the Royal Navy’s perilous voyage into unchartered territory as the crew attempts to discover the Northwest Passage. Faced with treacherous conditions, limited resources, dwindling hope and fear of the unknown, the crew is pushed to the brink of extinction.

The series begins with polar explorer ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror heading into unchartered territory and seeking the Northwest Passage. The ships are soon stuck, frozen and isolated, and those aboard must survive the harsh weather conditions and each other.

“The Terror is an atmospheric, character-driven drama, full of menace and foreboding, which will thrill and chill BBC viewers all the way to its icy denouement.” Sue Deeks, Head of BBC Programme Acquisitions

Frozen, isolated and stuck at the end of the earth, The Terror highlights all that can go wrong when a group of men, desperate to survive, struggle not only with the elements, but with each other.

HMS Terror was built in Topsham, Devon, and launched in June 1813. The ship was a bomb vessel, with an extremely strong hull, built to withstand the impact of explosions.

You can see a scale model of HMS Terror (made by Geoff Harvey) in Topsham Museum, built in 1813 as a bomb vessel for the Royal Navy, she saw action against the United States and later became the first ship to penetrate polar ice in both hemispheres. In 1845, along with HMS Erebus, she took part in Sir John Franklin’s doomed expedition to find Canada’s north-west passage. All hands perished and both ships were lost but in 2016, the remains of Terror were discovered on the seabed off northern Canada.

In 2014, the shipwreck of HMS Erebus was discovered by Parks Canada in collaboration with Inuit communities. This and the following discovery of HMS Terror in 2016 marked two of the most important archaeological finds in recent history.

Find out more about shipbuilding in Topsham along with other aspects of the History of Topsham in our brand new guidebook, available online:

You can also tour the Museum  on this site: