The Serpent: The first look at Netflix at the BBC’s new drama starring Jenna Coleman

We may have only just entered the new year but TV networks and streaming services have been busy lining up some impressive new dramas for our cosy nights in.

The BBC has been making some exciting announcements about its upcoming shows. We recently reported that the broadcaster was working on a new thriller starring Suranne Jones. And now, they have announced first look images of a gritty new true crime drama with Jenna Coleman as its lead.


The Serpent is a co-production between BBC One and Netflix and will be based on notorious murderer Charles Sobhraj and his partner in crime Marie-Andrée Leclerc.

The dark drama has been written by Richard Warlow and Toby Finlay and will be directed by Tom Shankland and Hans Herbots. Here’s everything we know so far…

The plot

The Serpent will be an eight-part series which follows the life of Sobhraj, who was dubbed the ‘bikini killer’ and is known as one of the most elusive criminals of the century, and his lover and regular accomplice Marie-Andrée Leclerc.

The BBC’s official show statement reads: ‘Charles Sobhraj was the chief suspect in the unsolved murders of up to 20 young Western travellers across India, Thailand and Nepal’s ‘Hippie Trail’ in 1975 and 1976. Psychopath, con man, thief and master of disguise, having slipped repeatedly from the grasp of authorities worldwide, by 1976 serial killer Sobhraj was Interpol’s most wanted man and had arrest warrants on three different continents.

The Serpent

‘When Herman Knippenberg, a junior diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok, unwittingly walks into Sobhraj’s intricate web of crime, he sets off an extraordinary chain of events that will see Knippenberg seek to bring Sobhraj to justice for his terrible crimes.’

The cast

French actor Tahar Rahim will take the lead role as Charles Sobhraj while Marie-Andrée Leclerc will be played by Jenna Coleman.

Meanwhile Dunkirk star Billy Howle will take the role of Herman Knippenberg and Les Misérables‘ Ellie Bamber has been cast as Angela Knippenberg.

Commenting on her new gig, Jenna Coleman said: ‘The Serpent intoxicated me into the dark seductive world of Charles Sobhraj. I’m so looking forward to delving into hippie trail depths and bringing to life this unfathomable real life story alongside Tahar, Billy, Ellie, Tom, Richard and the wonderful cast and production team for the BBC and Netflix.’

Similarly, Tahar Rahim said: ‘I am thrilled to play Charles Sobhraj in The Serpent, a role I have dreamed of portraying since I read a book about him when I was seventeen years old. I couldn’t be happier than to make it under the direction of Tom Shankland and writers Richard Warlow and Toby Finlay.’

The rest of the show’s cast will include Alice Englert (Top of the Lake), Mathilde Warnier (The Widow), Gregoire Isvarine (The Inside Game), Sahajak Boonthanakit (Only God Forgives), Fabien Frankel (Last Christmas), Chicha Amatayakul (Girl From Nowhere), Surasak Chaiyaat, Ruby Ashbourne-Serkis (National Treasure), Armand Rosbak, Ellie de Lange, Ilker Kaleli and screen newcomer Amesh Edireweera in key roles across the series.

When will it air?

Filming for The Serpent has only just started which means we may have to wait a while for an official air date to be released.