Apple Tree Yard writer adapts 1930’s classic Black Narcissus for BBC1

Rumer Godden’s iconic tale of sexual repression and forbidden love will become a three-part drama

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The BBC has commissioned Apple Tree Yard scriptwriter Amanda Coe to adapt the classic thirties novel Black Narcissus for BBC1.

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Coe, whose adaptation of Louise Doughty’s modern novel Apple Tree Yard starred Emily Watson and gripped viewers with its story of illicit passion in and around the Palace of Westminster, is taking on the story which has similar elements of sexual obsession and intrigue.

It follows Sister Clodagh and the nuns of St Faiths, who travel to Nepal to set up a branch of their order in the remote palace of Mopu.

The BBC adaptation, which has not yet been cast, will tell the story of the nuns’ sexual repression which forms the spine of the story, as Sister Clodagh finds herself increasingly attracted to the handsome and damaged land agent, Mr Dean.

Set in the 1930s it has already been made into a classic 1947 film by filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressurger starring Flora Robson and Deborah Kerr (main picture).

Writer Amanda Coe said: “I’m thrilled to be adapting Black Narcissus for BBC1. It’s a truly extraordinary love story, as well as a brilliantly unsettling piece of 20th century gothic about the power of a place to get under your skin and the dangers of refusing to learn from history.” 

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News of the series was announced by the BBC at a drama reception on Thursday night where the Corporation’s controller of BBC Drama, Piers Wenger, set out a vision for BBC Drama with more than 47-hours of new commissions.