Sunday 27 December 2020, 12:00 p.m.
BBC One has turned the classic novel Black Narcissus into a new limited edition series, with Gemma Arterton leading the Black Narcissus cast as sister Clodagh, a nun who leads an unfortunate mission to the remote Himalayas in the 1930s
The dramatic (but lonely) landscape is key to the show’s plot as the nuns are overwhelmed by the breathtaking beauty that surrounds them while struggling to exercise some control over them when their grip on their new home weakens , their belief and control over long-suppressed desires disappears.
In a setting that is so important to the series, where was BBC One’s Black Narcissus shot?
In Black Narcissus, in the beautiful and remote Himalayas, the nuns settled in the abandoned palace of Mopu (later known as the former home for a general’s concubines and known as the “House of Women”)
In contrast to the 1947 Oscar winner of the same name (shot entirely in Great Britain), the BBC series Black Narcissus was partly shot on location in Jomsom, Nepal, in addition to filming at Pinewood Studios
Speak to RadioTimesDuring a Q&A, cast Gemma Arteton (sister Clodagh) and Aisling Franciosi (sister Ruth) spoke about the effects of filming in Nepal on their acting
Arteton revealed that filming on location helped highlight the importance of the background to the story, as “the piety of the place makes [the nuns] question God”
She said: “We were so lucky that we had to go to Nepal It took us about two and a half days to get to this final destination, which is called Jomsom And when you get there, I mean, the journey itself is so grueling and not even close to what the nuns would have experienced themselves We had planes and cars and so on
“The air is very thin and you get altitude sickness, but you also feel very much alive and it’s the nicest place I’ve ever been We were lucky enough to be able to see that because it’s a big part of why the nuns break up, the piety of the place makes them start questioning God just to feel that it’s in the middle of nowhere like there’s no phone signal, nothing, and we were up there and it was just magical ”
Aisling Franciosi added that staying in a location with no phone signal or wifi helped bring the cast together while restoring the sense of closeness that the nuns themselves would have had
“There was no phone reception, no WiFi either, and one of the pleasing results was that we actually got so close so quickly because we were sitting around the fire in the evenings having a few drinks, playing games, chatting; and because none of us could look at our phones or computers it was kind of a nightmare for the production, but it – especially from the nuns point of view – really made us feel very, very close to what was back then it was a nice feeling to be able to show scenes inside. I think we got to know each other very quickly ”
She added that the vastness of the landscape helped her capitalize on the emotions of her character, Sister Ruth,
“From my point of view, I can only speak for myself, but I find that when I am somewhere where there is great beauty and complete isolation or I am even looking for space, I get a devastating feeling that you are not do Regardless, you are in some ways irrelevant which is a very humiliating feeling, but it was useful to me personally that Ruth took advantage of that irrelevance ”
BBC One’s Black Narcissus was filming the interiors and the Palace at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire – the same studio where the 1947 film starring Deborah Kerr was filmed
During the Q&A press conference, lead actress Gemma Arteton revealed that filming on location in Nepal before the Pinewood scenes was “invaluable” to the cast
“I’m so pleased we got to experience this [Nepalese landscape] and then when we obviously got back to Pinewood and photographed many of the interiors and the palace, we had that in mind so we could think about what was invaluable as an actor, ”she said
Series producer Andrew Macdonalds also told Radio Times that the family of Black Narcissus writer Rumer Godden, who died in Scotland in 1998 at the age of 90, was “very helpful”
One of the writer’s daughters visited the production last fall while filming at Pinewood Studios “She brought some amazing photos of her mother on the set with the original cast and she showed them to our cast”
Black Narcissus begins tonight (Sunday, Jan. December) at 9 p.m. on BBC One While you wait, visit our TV guide to see what’s on tonight or check out our 2020 TV Show Guide to find out what’s airing this fall and beyond becomes
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World news – GB – Where is black narcissus turned?