When is BBC serial killer The Serpent on TV? Cast, plot and air date details

The BBC drama will tell the story of murderer Charles Sobhraj

Tahar Rahim

BBC1 will soon be serving up The Serpent, a series based on the true story of how international serial killer Charles Sobhraj was finally captured and put on trial in 1976.

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Here’s all you need to know about the BBC/Netflix co-production produced by the folks who made Poldark (Mammoth Screen).

When is The Serpent on TV?

The BBC hasn’t yet announced when the eight-part series will air. It will premiere on BBC1 in the UK, and on Netflix elsewhere.

Who’s in the cast of The Serpent?

Tahar Rahim

French actor Tahar Rahim is set to take on the lead of murderer Charles Sobhraj. Currently most famous for starring in Oscar-nominated French crime drama A Prophet, Rahim will soon star in Damien Chazelle’s Netflix series The Eddy. Rahim has also starred in BBC2’s The Looming Tower (where he played Ali Soufan) and Mary Magdalene (Judas).

Victoria and Doctor Who actress Jenna Coleman will play the role of his partner and frequent accomplice, Marie-Andrée Leclerc.

Also cast in The Serpent are Billy Howle (MotherFatherSon) as Herman Knippenberg, a junior diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok who unwittingly walks into Sobhraj’s intricate web of crime.

Ellie Bamber (Les Miserables) will play Angela Knippenberg.

The Serpent’s main cast will also feature Alice Englert, Mathilde Warnier, Gregoire Isvarine, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Fabien Frankel, Chicha Amatayakul, Surasak Chaiyaat, Ruby Ashbourne-Serkis, Armand Rosbak, Ellie de Lange, Ilker Kaleli and Amesh Edireweera.

The Serpent is penned by Ripper Street writers Richard Warlow and Toby Finlay.


What is The Serpent about? Who is Charles Sobhraj?

The Serpent will document the crimes of Charles Sobhraj, a man who was the chief suspect in the unsolved murders of up to 20 young Western travellers across India, Thailand and Nepal through 1975 and 1976.

He became known as The Serpent due to his skills at deception and evasion, but also was labelled The Bikini Killer, due to the attire of his young female victims.

A con man, thief, master of disguise and debatably a psychopath, Sobhraj regularly slipped through the net of police, eventually becoming Interpol’s most wanted man. By 1976 he had arrest warrants on three different continents.

However, Sobhraj’s web of crime was pulled apart by Herman Knippenberg, a junior diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok. Without giving too much away, Knippenberg unwittingly sparked a chase that finally saw the mass murderer behind bars.

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Have there been screen adaptations of Charles Sobhraj before?

Several. Most famous, however, is the semi-fictionalised Bollywood film Main Aur Charles (in English: Me and Charles) which tells the story of Sobhraj’s crimes.