Gugu Mbatha-Raw

The Girl Before: the BBC’s twisted new psychological thriller is coming sooner than we’d hoped

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We finally know when the BBC’s adaptation of JP Delaney’s bestselling psychological thriller The Girl Before is coming to screens – and we can’t wait.

Updated 2 December: This is not a drill: after months spent waiting to hear more about when we can expect the BBC’s new twisted psychological thriller to hit screens, the broadcaster has confirmed when viewers will be able to watch its adaptation of JP Delaney’s novel The Girl Before – and you don’t have long to wait.  

That’s right – the BBC has confirmed that The Girl Before will air on BBC One at 9pm on Sunday 19 December, as part of its extensive festive schedule

And good news for box set fans: the entire series will also be released on BBC iPlayer following the broadcast of the first episode. For those who prefer to watch episodes live, the four-part series will air on consecutive nights with the final episode airing on BBC One on Wednesday 22 December.

The news comes a couple of months after we were treated to a series of first-look images from the series, which show The Morning Show’s Gugu Mbatha-Raw in action as Jane, a young woman who finds herself stuck in an unsettling dynamic with her landlord, an “enigmatic architect” called Edward (played by Selma’s David Oyelowo).  

We also got a glimpse of Eastenders’ Jessica Plummer in her role as Emma (which you can see below), the young woman who lived in Edward’s house before Jane moved in (aka, the girl before).  

Keep reading to check out everything we know about the new series so far. 

What is The Girl Before about? 

Because The Girl Before is based on a book, we already have a pretty good idea of the series’ plot.

The Girl Before is based on the story of Jane, a woman who, while looking for a place to rent, stumbles upon the “rental opportunity of a lifetime” – she can move into a luxurious, ultra-minimalist house known as ‘One Folgate Street’, as long as she abides by a long list of exacting rules laid out by her landlord, an “enigmatic architect”.

However, things are more complicated than they first seem. 

The Girl Before cover art
The Girl Before by JP Delaney.

The official synopsis reads: “Jane starts to feel the house changing her in unexpected ways, but when she makes the shocking discovery that her predecessor Emma died in the house, she’s forced to confront unnerving similarities.

“As the two women’s timelines interweave, Jane begins to question if her fate will be the same as the girl before…”

Who stars in The Girl Before?

Playing Jane is Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who recently starred as Hannah Shoenfeld in Apple TV+’s The Morning Show and is playing Mary Seacole in the upcoming biopic of the historic figure’s life.

David Oyelowo, known for his roles in Selma and Les Misérables, will play Edward Monkford, the “enigmatic architect” who takes Jane into his home. 

Since the show was initially announced, a number of extra cast members have been revealed.

These include Eastenders’ Jessica Plummer, who will play Emma, a “fun-loving and confident” young woman working in marketing who is “less than satisfied” with her partner. 

The Girl Before BBC
Jessica Plummer and David Oyelowo in The Girl Before.

Her character description continues: “For her, One Folgate Street’s stone walls represent security, safety and renewal. But Emma is hiding a dark secret and, living in the pressure cooker that is One Folgate Street, the truth will out in the end.”

X-Men: Apocalypse star Ben Hardy will also be joining the cast as Simon, Jane’s boyfriend.

According to his description, Simon “can’t quite believe he’s got a girlfriend like Emma” and will do “anything to keep her, but worries he’s not enough for her”.

The description continues: “[Seeing Emma] living in the minimalist haven of One Folgate Street, the creation of Edward Monkford, heightens his insecurities even more.” 

Behind the scenes, JP Delaney will create, write and executive produce the series alongside Lisa Brühlmann (Killing Eve, Blue My Mind) and Marissa Lestrade, who will direct and co-write, respectively.

Speaking in a press release for the series, Brühlmann said she couldn’t wait to get started.

“Can our surroundings, like a special house, affect who we are, even change us?” she said. “The ability to change our beliefs and our character is highly fascinating to me. I can’t wait to bring this female-driven thriller to life.” 

When and where will The Girl Before be available to watch?

The Girl Before will air on BBC One on Sunday 19 December at 9pm and will be available to watch in its entirety on BBC iPlayer hereafter. 

The Girl Before will air on BBC One at 9pm on Sunday 19 December.

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Images: BBC/Quercus/Getty

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.