Meet the cast of BBC One’s Black Narcissus

Gemma Arterton, Aisling Franciosi, and the late Diana Rigg lead the cast of BBC One's adaptation.

Black Narcissus

BBC One has adapted the dark, classic novel Black Narcissus into a three-part drama series, set in the lush but remote Himalayas and partly filmed on location.

Advertisement

Gemma Arterton takes on the central role of Sister Clodagh, the proud and conflicted missionary sister whose plight was memorably played by by Deborah Kerr in the 1947 film version of the same name.

Read on for the full list of cast and characters in the BBC One adaptation of Black Narcissus.

Gemma Arterton plays Sister Clodagh

Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus
BBC

Who is Sister Clodagh? A strict and ambitious nun tasked with establishing a mission in the remote Himalayas, becoming the youngest sister in her order to be named Sister Superior. Sister Clodagh is the protagonist of both the book of the same name and the 1947 Oscar-winning film, starring Deborah Kerr in the role.

Set in the 1930s at the palace of Mopu – originally built as a home for a former General’s concubines – the theme of sexual repression is prevalent throughout, as we learn of Sister Clodagh’s romantic past that now, years later, fills her with longing.

Where have I seen Gemma Arterton before? The acclaimed actress is known for roles in Lost in Austen, Tess of the D’Ubervilles, Gemma Bovery, the upcoming The King’s Man, Quantum of Solace, The Escape, and Summerland, among other projects.

Aisling Franciosi plays Sister Ruth

Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus
BBC

Who is Sister Ruth? A young self-important nun whom Mother Dorothea foists upon Sister Clodagh. Sister Ruth is a talented seamstress (a great source of vanity for her), but she dislikes working with the local children in Mopu. As she struggles with the palace’s high altitude, she becomes increasingly ill and paranoid.

Where have I seen Aisling Franciosi before? Probably best known internationally for her role in The Fall and as Lyanna Stark (sister to Ned Stark) in Game of Thrones, the actress has also starred in Clique, Genius, and The Nightingale.

Karen Bryson plays Sister Philippa 

Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus
BBC

Who is Sister Philippa? A talented gardener who accompanies Sister Clodagh to the palace of Mopu, where she is overcome by the beauty of the landscape.

Where have I seen Karen Bryson before? Bryson played Avril Powell in Shameless, and recently appeared in the BBC One drama MotherFatherSon. Other projects have included Bulletproof, Safe, and Bodies.

Patsy Ferran plays Sister Blanche

Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus
BBC

Who is Sister Blanche? A favourite of Sister Clodagh, the young, no-nonsense sister (otherwise known as Sister Honey) is a natural with children, and a stark contrast to Sister Ruth.

Where have I seen Patsy Ferran before? The stage and screen actress has appeared in Jamestown (as Mercy), Darkest Hour, and in God’s Own Country.

Rosie Cavaliero plays Sister Briony

Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus
BBC

Who is Sister Briony? The backbone of the mission in Mopu, practical Sister Briony oversees the everyday workings of the household.

Where have I seen Rosie Cavaliero before? Cavaliero is no stranger to period dramas – she played Grace Poole in the 2011 film adaption of Jane Eyre; Elizabeth Cordingley in Gentleman Jack; and Mrs Plornish in Little Dorrit. She’s also recently starred in Worzel Gummidge, and Cleaning Up alongside Sheridan Smith.

Alessandro Nivola plays Mr Dean

Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus
BBC

Who is Mr Dean? The charismatic but arrogant land agent, he quickly makes an enemy of Sister Clodagh.

Where have I seen Alessandro Nivola before? The actor recently played Dovid Kuperman in the Rachel Weisz film Disobedience. He’s also starred in American Hustle, Face/Off, and Chimerica (as Lee Berger).

Dipika Kunwar plays Kanchi 

Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus
BBC

Who is Kanchi? A vivacious local young woman who attends classes at the palace of Mopu.

Where have I seen Dipika Kunwar before? This is the newcomer’s first major on-screen role.

Chaneil Kular plays Dilip Rai

Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus
BBC

Who is Dilip Rai? The handsome young nephew of the general, he falls for a young woman from a lower caste.

Where have I seen Chaneil Kular before? Kular is best known for playing popular gay high schooler Anwar in the Netflix teen comedy drama Sex Education. He also starred in Doctors and Informer.

Nila Aalia plays Angu Ayah

Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus
BBC

Who is Angu Ayah? A local woman and Mopu palace caretaker who has a tragic connection to the so-called House of Women.

Where have I seen Nila Aalia before? The actress’ recent credits include I Hate Suzie, A Confession, Years and Years, A Discovery of Witches (as Sylvia), and Wolfblood.

Diana Rigg plays Mother Dorothea

Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus
BBC

Who is Mother Dorothea? The Mother Superior who sends Sister Clodagh on her mission to Mopu. However, she has personal reservations about Clodagh’s proud nature.

Where have I seen Diana Rigg before? The late actress first found fame in The Avengers and as a Bond girl in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In her later years she received international acclaim as Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones, and appeared in projects like The Painted Veil, All Creatures Great and Small, Detectorists, and ITV’s Victoria.

Advertisement

Black Narcissus will begin on Sunday 27th December at 9pm on BBC One. While you’re waiting visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight, or check out our guide to new TV shows 2020 to find out what’s airing this autumn and beyond.