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The latest offering from the BBC follows the crimes of serial-killer Charles Sobrhaj (played by Tahar Rahim) and his partner Marie-Andrée Leclerc (Jenna Coleman). So far, viewers of the eight-part thriller have seen Charles’ crimes turn to murder, much to the initial disbelief of Marie-Andrée, who was seen in the latest instalment expressing her fears over her boyfriend’s descent into becoming a killer. Now, showrunner Richard has explained why he believed it was so important to “change the narrative” of how Charles was viewed following his crimes being uncovered.
The programme follows the murders carried out by Charles along the ‘Hippie Trail’ frequented by young travellers in Asia, during the 1970s.
In the series, Charles and Marie-Andrée have so far been witnessed robbing travellers, with things turning even more sinister in episode two.
However, the brains behind the hard-to-watch drama recently spoke out on the considerations they had to make before the programme came to screens.
As with any story based on actual events, the team had to be careful to consider those who may have suffered as a result of the crimes.
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Speaking to Express.co.uk and other press ahead of the series’ launch, Richard explained how he wanted to “change the narrative” of Charles.
On telling the dark story, Richard admitted the responsibility he felt is “huge” – due to having portrayed real-life events.
He said: “In the end, you’re telling a story in which people lost their lives, and many of the relatives of those people are still with us.”
Richard went on to detail how this meant they had to think about how to be sensitive in their depiction of events from the time.
He added: “I think one of the very, early on, something became apparent to me was that much of the sort of the telling of the Charles Sobrhaj story, had been conducted very much from what you might call the ‘Charles perspective’.
And this was something he very much wanted to change through telling the story.
Of Charles, he added: “He’s a man who was always very eager to get interviews and tell his side of events.
“As a result, we came to accept Charles’s narratives that these were drug dealers, drug smugglers, drug addicts, and somehow sort of not worthy of other people’s compassion or attention.
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“That was something that obviously – in the real event – that was something that Herman [Knippenberg] himself took issue with.
Herman (Billy Powle) was the German diplomat who was the first to get wind of a series of mysterious disappearances from multiple young travellers.
Richard went on: “That was something we as storytellers very much wanted to take issue with.
“So, as a result, we do spend time getting to know these young people before they meet Charles and Marie-Andrée.
“We were trying as much as we can to slightly – if it’s not too big a word – reclaim what might have been the truth of their experience – before they met Charles.”
So far, viewers have seen the murders of several backpackers take place as Herman has started to delve deeper into the crimes.
After discovering the murder of missing Dutch travellers Lena (Ellie de Lange) and Willem (Armand Rosbak), Herman only became more determined to find out who was behind the killings.
But those watching at home will have to wait and see how the series of events play out and how Charles eventually gets brought to justice.
The Serpent airs Sundays from 9pm on BBC One.
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