The BBC has found their Charles Sobhraj. Tahar Rahim, who recently starred as FBI Special Agent Ali Soufan in Hulu’s The Looming Tower, has signed on to play Sobhraj in the BBC One’s eight episode limited series The Serpent. Netflix has also boarded as co-producer and will serves as the show’s broadcaster outside of the UK.
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 Hippie Trail, as Knippenberg seeks to bring Sobhraj to justice for his terrible crimes. “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”, Rahim said in a statement.
Richard Warlow and Toby Finlay penned 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 Lucy Richer for the BBC. Carolyn Newman is overseeing the series for Netflix.