Tom Shankland Brings Bikini Killer To Trial For BBC One

BBC One has commissioned new eight-part drama The Serpent, written by Richard Warlow (Ripper Street) and directed by Tom Shankland (The Missing), based on the true story of how one of the most elusive criminals of the 20th century was caught and brought to trial.

Con man, escape artist, thief, master of disguise and psychopath, Charles Sobhraj was the chief suspect in the sensational unsolved murders of up to 20 young Western travellers across India, Thailand and Nepal through 1975 and 1976. Having slipped repeatedly from the grasp of authorities worldwide, by 1976 Sobhraj was Interpol’s most wanted man, nicknamed The Bikini Killer, and had arrest warrants on three different continents.

When Herman Knippenberg, a junior diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok, unwittingly walks into Sobhraj’s intricate web of crime, he sets off an extraordinary chain of events that will see these two diametrically opposed men engaged in a chase across the porous borders of the Asian Hippie Trail in its twilight years.

Tom Shankland says: “Bringing the lost era of the hippie trail back to life has been a dream of mine, ever since I first went travelling in Asia and heard the name ‘Charles Sobhraj’. Before mobile phones, before the internet, a generation of idealistic kids set out on an iconic overland journey from Istanbul to Kathmandu in search of wild adventures.”

“Some of them had their minds expanded forever and some found a monster waiting in paradise. I want to give a voice to those brave kids who set out with big dreams but never made it home.”