Jenna Coleman Joins Cast of Upcoming Crime Drama 'The Serpent'

Jenna Coleman at a 2016 Television Critics Association session for "Victoria" (Photo: Rahoul Ghose/PBS)

During PBS’ MASTERPIECE “Victoria” session at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in Los Angeles, CA on Thursday, July 28, 2016, actors Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes, creator and writer Daisy Goodwin and MASTERPIECE series executive producer Rebecca Eaton discuss the 8-part series about Queen Victoria. (Premieres January 2017) All photos in this set should be credited to Rahoul Ghose/PBS

Rahoul Ghose/PBS

The upcoming BBC/Netflix true crime series The Serpent already has some rather serious buzz around it.

The drama, which will follow the hunt for the real-life French serial killer Charles Sobhraj whose famous nickname gives the series title, is already being imagined as a sort of Bodyguard for 2020 in the hopes that it will capture the public imagination on both sides of the Atlantic in a similar fashion.

French actor Tahar Rahim, best known in America for his turn in Hulu's The Looming Tower, will play the titular con man and murderer, who also happened to be one of the most elusive criminals of the 20th century. And now several other high-profile actors have been tapped to join the cast.

Victoria star Jenna Coleman will take off her crown and tiara for a bit in order to take on a very different sort of role. She’ll play Marie-Andrée Leclerc, the partner and frequent accomplice of Sobhraj. (Kind of a far stretch from ruler of the British Empire, is all I’m saying.)

But since her co-star Tom Hughes is taking the opportunity during the Victoria hiatus to work on other projects, it seems only right that Coleman get the chance to do so as well. 

@Jenna_Coleman_, @HowleBilly and @Ellie_Bamber join @taharrahim1 in astonishing @BBCOne crime drama #TheSerpent > More casting details:

— BBC Press Office (@bbcpress) September 8, 2019

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. When he was finally caught and convicted in 1976, he was Interpol’s most wanted man and had arrest warrants on three different continents.

“The Serpent intoxicated me into the dark seductive world of Charles Sobhraj,” Coleman said in the statement announcing her involvement. “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.”

Dunkirk’s Billy Howle and Les Miserables’ Ellie Bamber have also joined the series as Herman and Angela Knippenberg. Herman is a junior diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok, who unwittingly walks into Sobhraj’s web of crime, and sets off a chain of events that will ultimately see him try to bring the killer to justice for his crimes.

Written by Ripper Street’s Richard Warlow, the eight-part series has on firm airdate yet on either side of the pond, but it’s a good bet will see it at some point in 2020.

Does The Serpent sound like something you’d watch? Thoughts on Coleman taking on her first major villain role? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Twitter at @LacyMB