Anyone who's watched the BBC's newest crime drama The Serpent will likely have spent much of their viewing time on the edge of their seat. The eight-part series, based on true events, tells the horrifying story of serial killer Charles Sobhraj, who manipulated, stole from and murdered backpackers on Asia's hippie trail in the 1970s.
Part of Sobhraj's allure was the glamour that appeared to come hand in hand with him; the pool parties, the gemstones, the cocktails. And as we see detailed in episode two of The Serpent, this was partly how the killer enticed Quebec-born lover Marie Andrée Leclerc into his fold. As part of his tactics to lure victims in, Charles Sobhraj created the alias of Alain Gautier for himself. He gave Leclerc the pseudonym of Monique, and persuaded her to go along with his barbaric behaviour under this persona - not her own.
In one scene in the second episode of the BBC series, we see Sobhraj (played by actor Tahar Rahim) and Leclerc (played by Jenna Coleman) in a bar in Bangkok. Gem dealer Charles Sobhraj requests his accomplice Ajay take a photograph of the couple, with cash spread out in a fan across the table.
"For my mother, so she can see you. So she can see how well we are doing together," he tells his girlfriend in the scene, and the picture above is the resulting image.
As you can see from the following real life picture of Charles Sobhraj and Marie Andrée Leclerc, which is depicted here on the front cover of a book written about his heinous crimes, the image is scarily similar. Marie Andrée - AKA Monique - is wearing big dark sunglasses inside in the photo, just as Jenna Coleman's character does in the series, while killer Sobhraj stares eerily down the lens with his hand on his hip.
The series tells the story of how the criminal was investigated by Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg. The real Charles Sobhraj is still alive and is now serving time in prison after a long time evading punishment, while Marie Andrée Leclerc was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 1983 and died the following year, aged 38.
All episodes of The Serpent are available to view on BBC iPlayer now.
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