Gemma Arterton to lead all-star cast of BBC’s Black Narcissus

Arterton fronts the sordid tale of sexual repression and forbidden love

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 19:  Gemma Arterton attends a special screening of "The Escape" at The Curzon Bloomsbury on July 19, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)

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An all-star cast has been announced for the BBC adaptation of Rumer Godden’s classic novel Black Narcissus.

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Gemma Arterton will front the three-part drama as Sister Clodagh, who travels to Nepal alongside the nuns of St Faiths to set up a branch of their order in the remote Mopu.

As they settle into the so-called House of Women, Clodagh finds herself unmistakably attracted to the land agent Mr Dean (Chimerica’s Alessandro Nivola) – but before she can succumb to her passions, she finds her own repressed memories becoming entangled with the tragic history of Princess Srimati.

The chilling atmosphere leaves viewers to ponder whether there really are ghosts in the Himalayas, or whether the nuns are finding themselves getting more in touch with their primal urges.

Alongside Arterton, Aisling Franciosi (The Fall, Clique) stars as Sister Ruth, while Game of Thrones star – and all-round acting legend – Diana Rigg will play Mother Dorothea.

Jim Broadbent will portray Father Roberts, with Bodyguard’s Gina McKee plays the role of Sister Adela.

Rounding off the all-star cast are Rosie Cavaliero (Unforgotten) as Sister Briony, Patsy Ferran (Jamestown) as Sister Blance and Karen Bryson (MotherFatherSon) as Sister Phillipa.

Newcomer Dipika Kunwar makes her television debut as Kanchi.

Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus was previously adapted for the screen in 1947
Alberto Roveri/Mondadori via Getty Images

Black Narcissus will be adapted for television by BAFTA-winning writer Amanda Coe, who was at the helm of BBC’s Apple Tree Yard.

When announcing the project, Coe said: “I’m thrilled to be adapting Black Narcissus for BBC One. 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.”

Charlotte Bruus Christensen makes her major directorial debut on the series, having previously worked as Director of Photography on hit films including Girl on a Train and A Quiet Place.

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Filming on the three-part Black Narcissus starts in October in Jomsom, Nepal and Pinewood Studios, UK.