The drama, which stars Tahar Rahim (“A Prophet”) as the French conman and mass murderer Charles Sobhraj, was on its last stretch of shooting on location in Thailand in late March when the country went into lockdown. After a near five-month pause, the series had to relocate filming to the U.K. where production decamped in Hertfordshire, just north of London, on Aug. 17. The lensing, which took place for 10 days and will conclude Friday, consisted of remaining scenes that were initially scheduled to be shot in Thailand in March.
“It’s a testament to the hard work and sheer inventiveness of ‘The Serpent”s creative team, cast and crew that we’ve been able to safely wrap the series here in the U.K. in a way that doesn’t compromise the creative vision of this extraordinary story,” said Preethi Mavahalli, executive producer for Mammoth Screen.
According to producers, the filming took place with the support of independent health and safety consultants, in accordance with all safety guidelines. A dedicated COVID-19 supervisor was present on set at all times, per the producers.
Written by Richard Warlow (“Ripper Street”) and Toby Finlay, the eight-part series is based on the true story of how the elusive Sobhraj was caught and brought to trial. The drama follows a junior diplomat from the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok as he unwittingly walks into the web of crime that leads him to chase down the murderer in the twilight years of the Asian Hippie Trail.
The scenes shot in London were directed by Hans Herbots, produced by Stephen Smallwood, and primarily featured Rahim and Jenna Coleman (“Doctor Who”), who stars as Marie-Andrée Leclerc, Sobhraj’s partner and frequent accomplice.
Variety understands that producers will blend newly shot scenes seamlessly with the rest of the series, that was filmed almost entirely on location in Thailand. Only minor rewrites to the scripts were required.
Rahim and Coleman star in the show opposite Billy Howle (“Dunkirk”) and Ellie Bamber (“Nocturnal Animals”). Tom Shankland directed “The Serpent'”s first block.
The show is set to premiere in the U.K. on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in 2021, and will roll out internationally outside of the U.K. and Ireland on Netflix.
Commissioned by BBC One, “The Serpent” is produced by ITV Studios-backed Mammoth Screen and is a co-production between BBC One and Netflix, with ITV Studios handling global distribution. The series is produced by Stephen Smallwood, and executive produced by Warlow, Shankland, Preethi Mavahalli and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen.