26 December 2020 02:45
Black Narcissus follows a group of nuns tasked with converting an abandoned palace high up in the Himalayas into a school and a hospital while spreading the good word. This latest version of Black Narcissus comes after the 1947 film from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, which incurred the wrath of censors and was considered to be too erotic. The BBC in collaboration with American television network FX boasts a stellar cast including Jim Broadbent, Gemma Arterton as the young and ambitious mother superior Sister Clodagh, The Fall and Game of Thrones' Aisling Franciosi, Gina McKee of Line of Duty fame and Kulvinder Ghir from Goodness Gracious Me. READ MORE: Black Narcissus BBC release date, cast, trailer, plot Diana Rigg stars in BBC series Black Narcissus Diana Rigg's Black Narcissus co-star Karen Bryson plays Sister Philippa READ MORE Diana Rigg makes final TV appearance in All Creatures Great and Small Also, in the cast is Dame Diana Rigg who plays Mother Dorothea, the senior nun who tells Sister Clodagh about the mission at Mopu and expresses her reservations about their future success – given a group of German monks fled the same place months earlier under mysterious circumstances. Diana Rigg appears posthumously in Black Narcissus Along with Black Narcissus, Dame Diana will be posthumously featuring in the film Last Night in Soho, which is in post-production according to IMDb. In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, actress Karen Bryson, who plays Sister Philippa in Black Narcissus, paid tribute to the late, great Dame Diana. Although Bryson didn't get the chance to work directly with Dame Diana, she did meet the veteran actress while filming the drama.
Diana Rigg's Black Narcissus co-star Karen Bryson paid tribute Yeah, I was absolutely gutted and that came as a huge shock." Bryson takes on Sister Philippa in Black Narcissus, who undergoes a spiritual awakening which ultimately proves devastating for the mission. British nuns stuck in the Himalayas, living in a crumbling palace where the former local ruler had kept his harem and going slowly mad with pent-up passion over a handsome Englishman. This new retelling of Black Narcissus, the 1939 Rumer Godden novel that was turned into an Oscar-winning film starring Deborah Kerr in 1947, is utterly compelling, from the scenery to the simmering sexual tension. We aren't as easily shocked now, but the new BBC1 three-part series retains plenty of its allure (it's been produced by Andrew Macdonald, grandson of the 1947 film's co-director Emeric Pressburger), while adding modern touches such as filming in the Himalayas and using Nepalese actors instead of English ones pretending to be Nepalese. Rumer Godden's 1939 novel Black Narcissus has been remade for a three-part BBC1 series.
BAFTA-winning writer Amanda Coe, known for sensual dramas including Apple Tree Yard and The Trial Of Christine Keeler, says it's the first show she's written that her children can watch, but 'it's also the most subtle, erotic, twisted thing I've worked on. It's also a bit like horror film The Shining but with nuns, because they're in this very isolated place and they all start to go slightly mad.' The story is set in 1934 when a group of Catholic nuns of the St Faith order establish a mission and school at the remote clifftop palace of Mopu, once named the House of Women as it was where concubines had lived. Toda's sister Princess Srimati fell to her death there too, and he wants to rid the place of its ghosts as well as educate the local people. Gemma Arterton who plays Sister Clodagh, said the series is about the nuns reconnecting with their true selves. The women are led by the ambitious Sister Clodagh, played by Gemma Arterton, but her dedication to God starts to wobble quickly. Then there's the swaggeringly uncouth but devastatingly handsome atheist Mr Dean, who works for the General and helps the nuns settle in. Played by Alessandro Nivola, he turns the head not only of Sister Clodagh, who's determined to fight her attraction to him, but also Sister Ruth (played by Aisling Franciosi with wonderfully manic menace). It's like The Shining – but with nuns American actor Alessandro, revealed Mr Dean gets on badly at first with Sister Clodagh, however he can't help but find her appealing. 'In the film he's just a catalyst to wreak havoc, but in our series, based on the book, he's had some traumatic experience himself,' says American actor Alessandro, who's married to English actress Emily Mortimer. 'The physicality of the costume was important to us,' says Gemma Arterton, who like the other actresses spent time with real nuns for research. As soon as I started playing Sister Clodagh, I felt myself getting very tight.' Advertisement They aren't the only ones affected by the heady atmosphere, and it's no surprise that back at the nuns' convent in Darjeeling in India Mother Dorothea (played by Diana Rigg in her last TV role) was reluctant, along with Father Roberts (Jim Broadbent), to let them go to the palace. By the time stern Sister Adela (Gina McKee) turns up, she's shocked by what has become of the order. Author Rumer Godden, was not a fan of the film Black Narcissus because it wasn't filmed in the Himalayas. 'I was at a meeting with the BBC when they said they were planning a new adaptation of Black Narcissus, and I said no one else should do it but me,' says producer Andrew Macdonald, whose work includes Trainspotting and The Beach. And while elements of the film have been included, the producers were keen to ensure this series stands up in its own right. Black Narcissus, tomorrow- Tuesday, 9pm, BBC1.