BBC One Orders Sarah Lotz Adaptation ‘The Three’ & Charles Sobhraj Drama Series ‘The Serpent’

BBC One is adding two big-budget dramas to their slate. The BBC’s flagship channel has given the greenlight to The Three, an adaptation of the trilogy of novels by Sarah Lotz; and The Serpent, which tells the true story of the capture of Charles Sobhraj – one of the most elusive criminals of the 20th century. Both series have received 8 episode orders.

“It’s my ambition to deliver original, bold and unexpected drama to BBC One, drama that is set apart from what is on offer elsewhere and which allows us to explore new worlds. These two new series do just that, each offering a big emotional story in an international setting with iconic characters at their heart”, said the BBC’s Controller of Drama Commissioning Piers Wenger. “I’m thrilled that the BBC is home to these to these exceptionally compelling stories and would like thank both The Forge and Mammoth Screen alongside BBC Executive Elizabeth Kilgarriff for bringing them to BBC One.”

The Three opens as four planes crash on the same day in four different countries and three children miraculously survive. Elspeth Martin, a no nonsense crash investigator with the NTSB is under pressure to find out what caused the crashes. Elspeth’s journey to discover the truth takes her across four continents – to the townships of South Africa, the Florida swamps, the depths of the Atlantic and the notorious Aokigahara ‘suicide forest’ in Japan. It’s a journey that will utterly change her and force her re-evaluate her everything she believes in…

Wolf Hall scribe Peter Straughan is adapting Lotz’s trilogy for television. The Three, which is described as “a multi-stranded, international thriller with a supernatural twist”, was commissioned by Controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenger and the BBC’s Director of Content Charlotte Moore. It is set up at independent production company The Forge. The executive producers are Kate Sinclair and George Faber for The Forge, and Elizabeth Kilgarriff for the BBC.

The Serpent tells the story of Charles Sobhraj, who was the chief suspect in the sensational unsolved murders of up to 20 young Western travellers across India, Thailand and Nepal in the mid 1970s. By 1976 Sobhraj was Interpol’s most wanted man and had arrest warrants on three different continents. 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 these two diametrically opposed men engaged in a chase across the porous borders of the Asian Hippie Trail in its twilight years.

Ripper Street creator Richard Warlow is penning the scripts for the series, which is based on a true story. Victoria and Poldark indie Mammoth Screen is producing, with The Missing helmer Tom Shankland on-board as the director. The Serpent was commissioned by Controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenger and the BBC’s Director of Content Charlotte Moore. The executive producers are Richard Warlow, Tom Shankland, Preethi Mavahalli and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, and Elizabeth Kilgarriff for the BBC.

“I’ve been hoping for this news since Tom Shankland first told me the tale of Herman Knippenberg’s pursuit of Charles Sobhraj across the nexus points of the Hippie Trail”, Richard Warlow said in statement. “That the story happens to be entirely true is a gift. I don’t think I could ever invent the corrupt magnetism of Sobhraj’s evil charisma, nor the everyman’s decency with which Knippenberg – now our friend and collaborator – brought some measure of justice to those who went to seek new horizons but never returned.”