Black Narcissus
Based onBlack Narcissus
by Rumer Godden
Written byAmanda Coe
Directed byCharlotte Bruus Christensen
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes3
Executive producers
  • Amanda Coe
  • Andrew Macdonald
  • Allon Reich
  • Lucy Richer
EditorJinx Godfrey
Running time57–60 minutes
Production companies
Original network
Original releaseNovember 23, 2020 (2020-11-23)

Black Narcissus is a British drama serial, based on the 1939 novel of the same name by Rumer Godden. The series features one of the final performances of Diana Rigg, who died in September 2020. The drama premiered on November 23, 2020, on FX in the US,[2] and on December 27, 2020, on BBC One in the UK.


An Anglican nun sent to establish a branch of her order with her fellow sisters in the Himalayas struggles to temper her attractions to a World War I veteran they meet.



No.TitleDirected by [2]Written by [2]Original air date [3]U.S. viewers
1"Episode One"Charlotte Bruus ChristensenAmanda CoeNovember 23, 2020 (2020-11-23)0.445[4]
In 1914, Princess Srimati commits suicide by jumping off the bell tower at the remote Palace of Mopu in the Himalayas. In 1934, Sister Clodagh leads several hand picked British nuns from her order in Darjeeling to the Palace of Mopu in order to set up a mission school. While establishing the mission, Sister Clodagh works with the housekeeper Angu Ayah and the General's agent Mr. Dean, whose religious skepticism clashes with her Christian faith. Tensions emerge when Sister Ruth resents being reassigned from stitching to teaching the children. Ruth also discovers the late Srimati's former chambers and is haunted by her ghostly presence. Against Dean's advice, the nuns tend to the injuries of a local villager, who was wounded by a knife.
2"Episode Two"Charlotte Bruus ChristensenAmanda CoeNovember 23, 2020 (2020-11-23)0.333[4]
Despite her misgivings, Sister Clodagh enrols General Toda Rai's adolescent son Dilip Rai as a student at the school. Rai develops a romantic relationship with a female Dalit student named Kanchi. Following a disagreement about growing flowers in winter, Sister Philippa departs the mission school. The nuns also give cod liver oil to the dying infant child of a local villager. Feelings come to a head between Sister Clodagh, Sister Ruth and Mr Dean at the Christmas celebration. Sister Ruth has feelings for Mr Dean and becomes jealous of Sister Clodagh, who intends to send her back to Darjeeling.
3"Episode Three"Charlotte Bruus ChristensenAmanda CoeNovember 23, 2020 (2020-11-23)0.310[4]
After rescuing Father Roberts from a snowstorm, Sister Ruth manages to curry the priest's favour. Sister Clodagh's attempts to regain control of the situation by imposing strict order, causing Sister Adela to question her leadership. After learning that Dilip Rai is fraternising with Kanchi, General Rai demands her expulsion. At the sisters' petition, he settles for Kanchi to be beaten with a rod. After the infant child that the nuns gave cod liver oil to dies, the villagers come to distrust the nuns and abandon the mission school. With tensions reaching a climax, Ruth renounces her oath and flees the mission school. After Dean rebuffs her, Ruth attacks Clodagh at the bell tower but falls to her death. The nuns abandon the mission. Following Ruth's burial, Clodagh reveals her true name to Dean, whom she has feelings for.


In October 2019, filming began on a new three part drama loosely based on the 1939 Rumer Godden novel,[5] which was also adapted into the film Black Narcissus (1947), featuring Deborah Kerr as Sister Clodagh.[6][7]

The drama is a co-production between the BBC and FX. Alessandro Nivola and Gemma Arterton star in the series, with Amanda Coe writing the screenplay and Charlotte Bruus Christensen directing all three episodes. Filming took place in Jomsom, Nepal, and at Pinewood Studios.[5][8] The drama premiered on November 23, 2020, on FX.[2]


The series premiered on November 23, 2020, on FX in the United States, and on December 27, 2020, on BBC One in the United Kingdom.[2] In selected international territories, the series was released on Disney+ under the dedicated streaming hub Star as an original series, on March 5, 2021.[9][10]

In New Zealand, the series is distributed by Sky's streaming platform Neon.[11]


For the miniseries, Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 53% based on 19 critic reviews, with an average rating of 5.69/10. The critics consensus reads "Black Narcissus doesn't quite escape the shadow of its cinematic forebear, but this miniseries sufficiently keeps the faith with excellent performances and visual splendor."[12] Metacritic gave the miniseries a weighted average score of 67 out of 100 based on 12 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[13]

The series was reviewed for The Guardian by Lucy Mangan who gave it three stars and called it "erotic, gothic – and totally unconvincing"[14] and Anita Singh for The Telegraph gave it four stars reporting the first episode as "the hills are alive with the sound of sexually-charged nuns".[15]

See also


  1. ^ "Meet the cast of BBC One's Black Narcissus, 7 December 2020". Radio Times. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e Haring, Bruce (September 21, 2020). "'Black Narcissus' Gets FX Premiere Date, Trailer And Key Art Released". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  3. ^ "Black Narcissus – Listings". The Futon Critic. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Metcalf, Mitch (November 24, 2020). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 11.23.2020". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on November 24, 2020. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "BBC - Gemma Arterton takes the lead role in new BBC and FXP drama Black Narcissus - Media Centre". BBC News. September 16, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  6. ^ "When is Black Narcissus on TV?". Radio Times. November 20, 2020. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  7. ^ Hale, Mike (November 22, 2020). "'Black Narcissus' Review: Nuns, Mountains, High Passion". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  8. ^ "Where is Black Narcissus filmed?, 27 December 2020". Radio Times. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  9. ^ Riedmeier, Glenn (February 17, 2021). "Disney+- und Star-Highlights im März: "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier", "Black Narcissus" und "Mighty Ducks"". Fernsehserien (in German). Archived from the original on February 21, 2021. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  10. ^ "Top 5 des nouveautés très attendues sur Disney+ Star". Demotivateur (in French). February 19, 2021. Archived from the original on February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  11. ^ Croot, James (January 4, 2021). "Black Narcissus: Why SoHo's new erotic, erotic drama could well be habit forming". Stuff. Archived from the original on February 4, 2021. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  12. ^ "Black Narcissus: Miniseries (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  13. ^ "Black Narcissus". Metacritic. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  14. ^ "Black Narcissus review: erotic, gothic – and totally unconvincing by Lucy Mangan, 27 December 2020". The Guardian. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  15. ^ "Black Narcissus, episode 1, review: the hills are alive with the sound of sexually-charged nuns by Anita Singh, 27 December 2020". The Telegraph. Retrieved December 29, 2020.