Gemma Arterton in Black Narcissist

Black Narcissus: Gemma Arterton’s tense and steamy BBC drama has a release date

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Gemma Arterton will return to our screens in December with this seriously intriguing adaptation of Black Narcissus, and the release dates for all three episodes have just been announced. 

Ever since her breakthrough film role as ice cool head girl Kelly Jones in St Trinian’s, Gemma Arterton has always delivered on top entertainment. She has since starred in blockbusters such as Quantum of Solace and indie hits including Vita and Virginia. And let’s not forget her TV beginnings, playing Elizabeth Bennet in Lost in Austen and the titular role in Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

Now, Arterton is coming back to the small screen with a steamy three-part drama series about… nuns. 

Yep, Arterton will star as Sister Clodagh in the BBC adaptation of Rumer Godden’s classic novel Black Narcissus

What is Black Narcissus about?

The story of sexual repression and forbidden love takes place in 1934 on a remote clifftop palace in the Himalayas, once known as the ‘House of Women’. 

During the latter years of British rule in India, ambitious young nun Sister Clodagh heads a mission to the remote palace of Mopu, which has been donated by General Toda Rai. He hopes the Sisters of St. Faith will rid the ‘House of Women’ of unhappy memories connected to his late sister, Srimati. 

Although Clodagh ignores the warnings of the General’s raffish agent Mr. Dean, isolation and illness soon take their toll, with the haunting atmosphere of the palace particularly affecting volatile Sister Ruth. 

As past and present collide, the arrival of the young General Dilip Rai is the catalyst for an explosion of repressed desires that may end in a fatal confrontation.

Watch the trailer for Black Narcissus

It looks sexy, spooky and a little bit bonkers – which is why we’re totally into it. And Arterton isn’t the only big name signed up.

Who stars in Black Narcissus

The late and great Game of Thrones legend Diana Rigg will play Mother Dorothea, while Aisling Franciosi stars as Sister Ruth and Jim Broadbent portrays Father Roberts. 

BAFTA-winning writer Amanda Coe wrote the three hour-long episodes and renowned DP Charlotte Bruus Christensen makes her directing debut.

“I’m thrilled to be adapting Black Narcissus for BBC One,” said Coe. “It’s a truly extraordinary love story, as well as a brilliantly unsettling piece of 20th century gothic about the power of a place to get under your skin and the dangers of refusing to learn from history.”

When is Black Narcissus out?

Black Narcissus will air on BBC One at 9pm on 27 December, with episodes two and three airing on 28 and 29 December respectively. You can catch up with the whole series on iPlayer after airing. 

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…