BBC One’s true-crime drama The Serpent introduces to Nadine (Mathilde Warnier) and Remi Girs (Grégoire Isvarine), who live next door to serial killer Charles Sobhraj (Tahar Rahim in The Serpent cast).
The Serpent episode three focussed on would-be victim Dominique Renelleau (Fabien Frankel) who managed to escape Sobhraj’s clutches at the last moment after seeking help from Nadine and Remi, who managed to get him on a flight out of Bangkok.
The series continues to focus on Nadine in episode four, as she helps Herman (Billy Howle) and Angela Knippenberg (Ellie Bamber) accumulate evidence.
But who was the real-life Nadine, and did she really team-up with Herman in order to help bring Sobhraj to justice?
Who was the real-life Nadine from The Serpent?
Nadine Girs was a young woman from Normandy, France, when she and her then husband, Remi, moved to Bangkok in 1975, becoming Charles Sobhraj’s neighbours. Nadine got to know both Sobhraj and his accomplice Marie-Andrée Leclerc (Jenna Coleman).
“I was married to a sous chef and had little to do while he was at work, so I spent almost every day at Charles’ apartment. I became good friends with Marie-Andrée and she’d cook dinner for me, normally rare steaks and salad,” she recently told the Daily Mirror.
“We’d drink Coke and beer, talk about life – we seemed to have a lot in common. When I found out what he was doing to those people I had to act, or I would not be able to live with myself.”
However, she became suspicious, helping Sobhraj’s flatmates and would-be victims Dominique Rennelleau and Yannick Masy (not featured in The Serpent) to escape while Sobhraj was abroad.
Like the real Herman Knippenberg, the real-life Nadine spoke to the creators of The Serpent.
As the show’s writer Richard Warlow said:“We have been able to meet and talk with a few of those who were, for a while, friends with Sobhraj and Leclerc, who shared their home, ate their food and went to their parties.
“It’s been invaluable and humbling to be able to call on the memories of such extraordinary men and women. They have been ceaselessly generous in their recall of what, for a few of them, was a dark and mortally dangerous sequence of events.”
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Did Nadine really help Herman?
In March 1976, Nadine and Remi tipped off Herman Knippenberg, who was at the time working at the Dutch embassy in Bangkok and investigating a mysterious man known as ‘Gautier’ (an alias of Charles Sobhraj’s).
Nadine helped Herman and his then wife Angela to accumulate evidence by taking undercover photos at Sobhraj’s apartment.
In a recent interview with the Daily Mirror, the real-life Nadine revealed: “Charles is a monster and I am terrified of him… when I found out what he was doing to those people I had to act, or I would not be able to live with myself.”
She also described the moment Sobhraj questioned her about Dominique (whom she helped escape) in 1976:”It was terrible,” she said, “I was waiting in a hotel lobby when they came up behind me and said, ‘Surprise!’ My heart jumped. They offered me a ride home and I had to get into a very small lift with them.
“I was sure Charles could hear my heart beating. He kept asking, ‘Where is Dominique and Yannick’ [another would-be victim who is not featured in The Serpent].”
The Serpent episode four will air on Sunday 17th January at 9pm. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide.