Keira Knightley to Star in 'The Essex Serpent' Adaptation for Apple TV+

Keira Knightley in the period drama film "Colette" (Photo: Bleeker Street Productions)

Keira Knightley has found her next period drama. The actress, who has appeared in everything from Colette to The Imitation Game to The Duchess and lots more, will next star in Apple TV+'s upcoming adaptation of Sarah Perry’s 2016 historical novel The Essex Serpent. 

The bestselling book was something of a phenomenon in the U.K., where it sold over 200,000 copies and took home Book of the Year honors at the British Book Awards.

Set in 1893, it follows the story of the newly widowed Cora, who, having fortuitously escaped an abusive marriage by way of her husband's death, relocates from bustling Victorian London to the village of Aldwinter in Essex. Upon arriving, she learns of an intriguing local legend that claims a fearsome creature known as the Essex Serpent is said to have returned after 300 years and is once again roaming the marshes and killing people. As Cora is something of an amateur naturalist, she's fascinated and convinced that this supposedly magical sea beast is some sort of previously undiscovered species.

The story is, of course, more complicated than it first appears on the surface, involving everything from wide-ranging philosophical debates to dark and deeply repressed urges and if there's a monster in this tale, it may not be snake at all. 

No other casting is known at present, though Knightley herself has also signed on to serve as an executive producer. 

The Essex Serpent is another in a recent line of U.K. dramas heading to the Apple streaming platform, which include Slow Horses starring Gary Oldman and Suspicion - itself a remake of an Israeli drama - starring Uma Thurman.

Did you read The Essex Serpent a few years ago? Do you think it is the sort of story that could work as a TV series? 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 Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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