Jenna Coleman (Victoria, The Cry, Doctor Who), Billy Howle (MotherFatherSon, Dunkirk, On Chesil Beach) and Ellie Bamber (Les Misérables, Nocturnal Animals, The Falling) have joined BBC One and Netflix series The Serpent.
The Mammoth Screen-produced drama stars Tahar Rahim as Charles Sobrhaj, one of the most elusive criminals of the 20th century. Charles Sobhraj was the chief suspect in the unsolved murders of up to 20 young Western travellers across India, Thailand and Nepal’s ‘Hippie Trail’ in 1975 and 1976. Psychopath, con man, thief and master of disguise, having slipped repeatedly from the grasp of authorities worldwide, by 1976 serial killer Sobhraj was Interpol’s most wanted man and had arrest warrants on three different continents.
Now, Tahar has got company, with Coleman set to play Marie-Andrée Leclerc, Sobhraj’s partner and frequent accomplice. When Herman Knippenberg (Howle), a junior diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok, unwittingly walks into Sobhraj’s intricate web of crime, he sets off an extraordinary chain of events that will see Knippenberg seek to bring Sobhraj to justice for his terrible crimes. Ellie Bamber will play Angela Knippenberg.
On joining The Serpent, Coleman says: “The Serpent intoxicated me into the dark seductive world of Charles Sobhraj. I’m so looking forward to delving into hippie trail depths and bringing to life this unfathomable real life story alongside Tahar, Billy, Ellie, Tom, Richard and the wonderful cast and production team for the BBC and Netflix.”
Howle says: “When I heard about the story behind The Serpent, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. What an interesting role, in a fascinating story, with a brilliant team behind it – shooting in such a great part of the world, as well. I feel really fortunate to be a part of this project.”
Preethi Mavahalli, executive producer for Mammoth Screen, adds: “I’m delighted that Richard and Toby’s exceptional scripts for The Serpent have attracted a cast of such extraordinary calibre.”
The Serpent’s cast will also feature Alice Englert (Top of the Lake), Mathilde Warnier (The Widow), Gregoire Isvarine (The Inside Game), Sahajak Boonthanakit (Only God Forgives), Fabien Frankel (Last Christmas), Chicha Amatayakul (Girl From Nowhere), Surasak Chaiyaat (Love Destiny), Ruby Ashbourne-Serkis (National Treasure), Armand Rosbak (De Slet van 6 vwo), Ellie de Lange (Keizersvrouwen), Ilker Kaleli (Poyraz Karayel) and newcomer Amesh Edireweera in key roles across the series.
The eight-part limited series is written by Richard Warlow and Toby Finlay, directed by Tom Shankland and Hans Herbots, produced by Stephen Smallwood, and executive produced by Warlow, Shankland, Preethi Mavahalli and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, Lucy Richer for the BBC and will be handled by Carolyn Newman for Netflix.
Filming is now underway on location in Thailand. It will premiere on BBC One in the UK, and on Netflix outside of the UK and Ireland.
Tahar Rahim to star in BBC One and Netflix’s The Serpent
16th July 2019
Tahar Rahim (The Looming Tower, A Prophet, The Eddy) will star in The Serpent, a new series from BBC One and Netflix.
The French actor will play Charles Sobhraj in the brand new drama, which is based on the astonishing true story of how one of the most elusive criminals of the 20th century was caught and brought to trial.
Commissioned by BBC One, The Serpent will be produced by Mammoth Screen (Poldark, World On Fire) and is a co-production between the Beeb and Netflix. The eight-part limited series is written by Richard Warlow (Ripper Street) and Toby Finlay (Ripper Street) and directed by Tom Shankland (Les Miserables).
Sobhraj was the chief suspect in the unsolved murders of up to 20 young Western travellers across India, Thailand and Nepal through 1975 and 1976. Psychopath, con man, thief and master of disguise, having slipped repeatedly from the grasp of authorities worldwide, by 1976 serial killer Sobhraj was Interpol’s most wanted man and had arrest warrants on three different continents.
When Herman Knippenberg, a junior diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok, unwittingly walks into Sobhraj’s intricate web of crime, he sets off an extraordinary chain of events that will see these two diametrically opposed men engaged in a chase across the porous borders of the Hippie Trail, as Knippenberg seeks to bring Sobhraj to justice for his terrible crimes.
Rahim says: “I am thrilled to play Charles Sobhraj in The Serpent, a role I have dreamed of portraying since I read a book about him when I was 17 years old. I couldn’t be happier than to make it under the direction of Tom Shankland and writers Richard Warlow and Toby Finlay.”
Preethi Mavahalli, Executive Producer at Mammoth Screen, says: “It is an absolute honour to have Tahar Rahim, one of France’s finest actors, join us in bringing this extraordinary story of the notorious French serial killer Charles Sobhraj to screen.”
Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says: “We are delighted to have the brilliant Tahar Rahim play our leading man in The Serpent and for him to unravel Sobhraj’s dark web of deceit, crime and murder in this fascinating true story for BBC One.”
Brian Pearson, Vice President, Content Acquisition, Netflix adds: “We’re excited to grow our partnership with the BBC alongside Mammoth Screen and bring this gripping story led by the brilliant Tahar Rahim to our members around the world.”
The series will premiere on BBC One in the UK and on Netflix outside of the UK.