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Black Narcissus Drops on BBC iPlayer On Sunday

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Black Narcissus Drops on BBC iPlayer On Sunday

A psychological thriller about nuns and their personal lives are the focus the BBC's brand new drama which lands on iPlayer on Sunday - and it's set to be your new TV obsession.

Starring Gemma Arterton, Black Narcissus is a three-episode mini-series set in Mopu, Himalayas in 1934.

Check out the trailer below:

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The series is set in a remote clifftop palace once known as the 'House of Women' holds many dark secrets. When the young nuns of St. Faith, led by Sister Clodagh (Gemma Arterton) attempts to establish a mission there, its haunting mysteries awaken forbidden desires that seem destined to repeat a terrible tragedy".

Black Narcissus was filmed on location in Nepal in a rural area called Jomsom on the Nepalese-Tibetan border (Credit: BBC)
Black Narcissus was filmed on location in Nepal in a rural area called Jomsom on the Nepalese-Tibetan border (Credit: BBC)

Speaking to Tyla about the new series, Gemma said: "Sister Clodagh is one of three women from her order who are tasked with turning a Himalayan palace into a school and hospital. "I did sort of feel a connection to Clodagh.

"This kind of control freak who is desperate to do well and that kind of gets in the way. She's proud and this pride that she has is something I related to."

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Black Narcissus is based on a 1939 novel by Rumer Godden. The book was adapted into a film in 1947. Aisling Franciosi, who plays Sister Ruth, says that she felt nervous when first taking on the role. "I found that having read the novel and Amanda Coe's scripts, I really felt that there was quite a vulnerable and fragile young woman who was grappling with this world that I feel she'd been thrust into."

From Black Narcissus to horror films like The Nun to the recently announced sequel Sister Act 3, nuns continue to be such compelling characters for film and television. Screenwriter Amanda Coe says, "The notion of repression is always extremely interesting, the idea that you follow rules and you have to repress all sorts of desires, not just sexual desire but your individuality.

"I think it's always an interesting premise for a drama because drama is about conflict and you are setting up the conflict about human nature and the rules that have to be followed. It's inherently dramatic. Visually, there's something captivating about it."

Black Narcissus is a three-episode mini-series set in Mopu, Himalayas in 1934 (Credit: BBC)
Black Narcissus is a three-episode mini-series set in Mopu, Himalayas in 1934 (Credit: BBC)
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Gemma says the essence of her character is "maintaining control" and to do so, her costume helped in several ways. "I found that the posture and the habit - the actual costume, really helped because the nuns at that time, weren't supposed to touch or even keep your gaze outside of the habit. That's why they are there. It's kind of like blinders.

"We were completely constricted. we had these wimples on that covered our ears, and our hands were, sort of, inside our robes. So, there was nothing you could really do with your body. So, I became really stiff, which I found really helpful."

Amanda added: "visually, I think there's something very captivating about nuns. The frame invites a close-up."

Aisling said: "Getting into the world of a convent, it seems quite secretive. And I think there's also, in pop culture, a lot of mystique around nuns and many, many horror films set on them as well. "

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When the TV adaptation got the green light the production team wanted to ensure the show had a diverse cast. Dipika Kunwar plays Kanchi, a role that was played by Jean Simmons in the 1947 film. Two years after first hearing about the new version of Black Narcissus, Kunwar won the part, which is her TV debut. Dipika moved to the UK in 2012 from Nepal and started acting in her early 20s. "I watched the movie and I was like 'I want to be in that when it comes out.'" she says, discussing how she got the role.

Aisling Franciosi plays Sister Ruth in Black Narcissus (Credit: BBC)
Aisling Franciosi plays Sister Ruth in Black Narcissus (Credit: BBC)

Black Narcissus also marks the final screen appearance for Diana Rigg who passed away in September 2020. Arterton recalled speaking with Rigg about Black Narcissus before she found out she got the part of Clodagh. "I remember we had fun [on set]. She told me about this cocktail that she made for herself called "D's Dynamite," and it's one-part Cointreau and the rest Prosecco. And so, on her last day, I brought in some Prosecco and Cointreau, and we had them. And she had two. It was great and, you know, what an absolute honour to have worked with her on this".

Black Narcissus is available to stream on BBC iPlayer now. It also airs on 27th December at 9pm on BBC One.

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: TV and Film, BBC, TV News, TV Entertainment

Gregory Robinson
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