BBC series Black Narcissus is coming out at Christmas - who stars in the cast?

The BBC’s new miniseries Black Narcissus proved popular with BBC audiences when is first aired on 27 December 2020.

A period drama set in the 1930s, Black Narcissus tells the story of a group of nuns tasked with setting up a convent in a mysterious temple in the Himalayas - and the psychological struggles they endure as a result.

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Featuring a string of impressive actors, including Diana Rigg and Gemma Alterton, the three episodes are gripping.

Already hooked? Here is what you need to know.

What is the period drama about? 

Black Narcissus was previously made into a film 1947 and is based on Rumer Godden’s 1939 book of the same name. 

The series follows the challenges faced by Sister Clodagh (Gemma Arterton)), leading nuns of St Faiths to a remote temple in the Himalayas.

Their destination is the palace of Mopu, formerly a house for the General’s concubines, or mistresses. 

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Sister Clodagh struggles with her unwavering attraction to land agent, Mr Dean, and he also catches the attention of Sister Ruth. 

This results in a hostile and tense relationship between the nuns as they set out - led by Clodagh - to turn the old palace into a nunnery.

Who is in the cast of Black Narcissus?

British actress Gemma Arterton (The King’s Man, St Trinnians) is in the starring role as   Sister Clodagh alongside American actor Alessandro Nivola (The Wizard of Lies, Chimerica) as Mr Dean. 

Troubled nun, Sister Ruth is played by Aisling Franciosi (The Fall, Legends) and Jim Broadbent (Paddington 2, The Iron Lady) plays Father Roberts.

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The series is dedicated to Game of Thrones star Diana Rigg - who sadly passed in September - as Mother Dorothea. 

Arterton paid tribute to the late actor on BBC’s The One Show. She said: “She was all the things I hoped she would be: funny, such a twinkle in her eyes, so witty and an amazing actress and I was lucky enough to have a two-hander with her, so it’s a really special scene in the film.”

Black Narcissus is directed by cinematographer, Charlotte Bruus Christensen.

Where was the drama filmed?

Black Narcissus was filmed in Nepal and Pinewood studios in December 2019.  

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It took the cast and creators two and a half days to reach the remote Hilmalayan destination. 

The Himalayan mountains have almost no flat surface range and commercial airlines do not fly over it due to the many peaks above 20,000 feet - therefore, the only way to travel into the region is via train or car. 

Speaking to singer Jessie Ware on her podcast ‘Table Manners’, Arterton said the location was possibly “the most beautiful place” she had seen in her life, adding it was “incredibly stunning”. 

During filming the cast ate very basic food, including Yak, a native Himalayan breed of cattle.

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They even paid a visit to Yak-Donalds, a hotel which specialises in yak-based products, such as yak burgers. 

The cast had very few modern amenities, which Arterton commented was not as difficult as expected as she enjoyed the simplicity of it. 

Where can I watch it? 

Black Narcissus will air on BBC One, at 9pm on 27 December 2020.  

The other two episodes of the three-part series will air on 28 and 29 December at the same time.

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