The Serpent is BBC iPlayer's most watched show since Normal People

The Serpent becomes BBC iPlayer’s most watched show since Normal People as 31 million viewers tune into the intense crime drama

The Serpent has become BBC iPlayer’s most watched show since Normal People, it was revealed by the BBC on Monday.

31 million viewers have tuned into the intense crime drama, which stars Tahar Rahim and Jenna Coleman, since it first began airing on New Year’s Day.

The eight-part drama concluded its BBC One run on Sunday night, but has been available to stream in full on iPlayer since the beginning of the year.

It’s a hit! The Serpent has become BBC iPlayer’s most watched show since Normal People as 31 million viewers tuned into the intense crime drama, it was revealed on Monday

The Serpent’s first episode is the streaming service’s most watched episode across all genres, with over 5.5 million checking it out online, as of writing.

Including linear viewing, the first episode received a consolidated 9 million viewers across all screens in its first 30 days, and 7.4 million tuned into the second episode. 

In December it was revealed that Normal People had received a staggering 62.7 million views since it launched in April, with 6.75 million tuning into the first episode just two months after it aired.

Normal People follows Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mecal) as they navigate the difficulties of social and class dynamics during their time at high school and college.

Wow: In December it was revealed Normal People got a staggering 62.7 million views since it launched in April, with 6.75 million tuning into the first episode two months after it aired

Impressive: The Serpent’s first episode is the streaming services most watched episode across all genres, with over 5.5 million checking it out online and 9 million tuning in over 30-days

Of The Serpent’s success, Damien Timmer and Preethi Mavahalli, executive producers for Mammoth Screen said: ‘It’s been a privilege to tell the real life story of Herman and Angela Knippenberg’s dogged pursuit of justice, and to have a chance to reclaim the stories of the young travellers whose lives were so cruelly cut short. 

‘We’re absolutely thrilled to see the British public come to the series in such vast numbers’

Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama added: ‘These exceptional figures for The Serpent are a testament to the power of telling the lesser-known, human side of a real-life story, and an exceptional creative team.

‘It’s great to see The Serpent become such a hit, driven in no small part by phenomenal word-of-mouth from the British public watching the boxset on BBC iPlayer.’ 

The Serpent follows the pursuit of real-life conman and killer Charles Sobhraj (Rahim), who preyed on and murdered Western tourists throughout Southeast Asia during the 1970s, and his girlfriend Marie-Andrée Leclerc (Coleman). 

Sobhraj was branded the Bikini Killer after two of his victims were found wearing just a bikini, while he was also known as The Serpent for his ability to slither away from facing justice for his crimes for years. 

French Canadian Leclerc began her relationship with Sobhraj aged 30 after he poisoned her male friend to ‘get him out of the way’, however Leclerc was ‘thrilled’ to meet charismatic Sobjraj.

Leclerc soon learned how immoral and corrupt her new partner was, however she still stuck by him and even turned up the music as he and an accomplice bludgeoned two victims to near-death.

Drama: The Serpent follows the pursuit of real-life killer Charles Sobhraj (Tahar Rahim), and his girlfriend Marie-Andrée Leclerc (Jenna Coleman)

Plot: Marie-Andree began her relationship with Sobhraj aged 30 after he poisoned her male friend to ‘get him out of the way’, however she was ‘thrilled’ to meet charismatic Sobjraj

Notorious con-artist Sobhraj attracted tourists and tricked them into handing over their money for his scams, and if they refused to help he poisoned them. 

Sobhraj was first caught in 1976 when he tried to drug an entire group of French students in New Dehli and one of them caught on to his plan and handed him over to the authorities.

He spent a total of 21 years in jail in India where he was jailed for culpable homicide for poisoning a French tourist and killing an Israeli man. He was released in 1997.  

During his time in prison, authorities in Thailand attempted to extradite Sobhraj and he threw a huge party for inmates and guards alike. He drugged them all with sleeping pills and managed to walk out of the prison.


Criminal: Sobhraj was branded the Bikini Killer after two of his victims were found in swim suits, while he was known as The Serpent for his ability to slither away from justice for years (pictured left in 2011)

Pictured: Charles Sobhraj ‘The Serpent’ and Marie-Andree Leclerc pictured together in 1986

He was later caught and jailed for another 10 years for the event until 1997. 

The law caught up with him again in Nepal in 2004 when he was jailed for the killing of US tourist Connie Joe Bronzich in 1975.

In 2014, he was handed a second life sentence for the killing of Canadian backpacker Laurent Carriere, whose passport he had used to escape Nepal after killing the pair.

Sobhraj has now been linked to 20 murders during his killing spree. 

Prisoner: Sobhraj was first caught in 1976 when he tried to drug an entire group of French students in New Dehli and one of them caught on to his plan and was jailed until 1997, he is now serving a second life sentence (Sobhraj pictured in 2011)

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