The third episode of true-crime drama The Serpent aired on BBC One last night – and it was by far the tensest instalment of the series so far.
The episode was largely focused on the fate of French backpacker Dominique Renelleau (Fabien Frankel), a would-be victim of serial killer Charles Sobhraj (Tahar Rahim) who had worked out that all was not as it seemed at Sobhraj’s Bangkok home.
After growing suspicious that so many visitors at the house had fallen ill, Dominique began to piece things together and realised that he too had been poisoned and trapped in the house – with his visa and passport having been taken away from him and altered.
With Charles and his girlfriend accomplice Marie-Andrée Leclerc (Jenna Coleman) out of the country on holiday, Dominique spotted an opportunity to escape and sought help from his friends Nadine and Remi, who were able to buy him a plane ticket and fix his passport such that he could get out of the country.
Dominique made his way to the airport, and despite an apparent sighting of Sobhraj in the departure lounge he managed to board the plane, safely evading the killer.
It was an extremely nerve-shredding ordeal for viewers, and many took to social media to rejoice at his safe passage out of Bangkok.
And many fans were also interested to know how accurate the episode was – was Dominique a real person and did he really escape from Sobhraj’s clutches in such dramatic circumstances?
The answer is that the episode was indeed largely close to real-life events. Dominique Rennelleau was a real man to whom Sobhraj had been providing shelter, and he’d believed that he was suffering from dysentery before realising that he was being poisoned.
It’s also true that Nadine and Remi had helped him escape, loaning him the money while Sobhraj had been out of the country, and that the serial killer questioned Nadine about this after his return from abroad.
In a recent interview with the Daily Mirror, the real-life Nadine revealed: “It was terrible. 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 series].”
And so, fortunately, the real Dominique did escape, and he still lives in France, where he is married, has grown-up children, and still enjoys travelling.
- You can find out more about The Serpent true story here.
The Serpent airs on Sunday nights at 9pm on BBC One, and the full series is available to watch on BBC iPlayer. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide.