BBC criticised for new series The Serpent with Jenna Coleman ‘promotes chain-smoking’

The Serpent: Jenna Coleman stars in BBC series trailer

The Serpent returns to the BBC this evening as Tahar Rahim plays Charles Sobhraj – the killer and Jenna Coleman stars as Marie-Andree Leclerc, his French-Canadian lover. However, the murder drama has come under scrutiny for chain-smoking as the characters are constantly seen with a cigarette in their mouths. 

The show, which is based on a true story sees Charles and his girlfriend, as well as Dutch Diplomat Herman Knippenberg (Billy Howle) who investigates the murders of several Western tourists in 1970s Bangkok. 

Throughout the eight episodes, the three lead characters are seen smoking cigarette after cigarette. 

Deborah Arnott from the anti-smoking charity ASH said: “There’s a proven causal link between watching people smoke on screen and taking up smoking yourself. 

“Whether the smokers are heroes or villains, cool or not, doesn’t make any difference.

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“Exposure to images of people smoking makes it harder for smokers to quit, and more likely that ex-smokers will start smoking again. 

“Watching The Serpent won’t turn someone into a serial killer – but it will encourage them to smoke,” the Mirror reported. 

It comes after viewers commented on the amount of smoking which took place in every instalment. 

“For anyone watching The Serpent and trying to give up smoking – good luck!” A tweet read. 

Someone else said: “I’m gasping for air watching them chainsmoke.” A third praised the show, but warned: “It may cause smoking and red wine consumption.”

There is so much smoking in #TheSerpent. I feel like all I can smell is fags AND it’s giving me a parched throat…pass the gin,” someone else wrote. 

A fourth added: “They all seem to be smoking like chimneys in #TheSerpent, gagging for a cigarette now (stopped over a year ago).” contacted the BBC for comment. 

Another thing which has been slammed is Jenna’s French accent. 

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Some claimed her efforts just resulting in making her sound “fake” rather than authentic and “ruined” the mini-series for them. 

While others thought the actress and character oozed sex appeal. 

The former Doctor Who star spoke about how challenging it was to learn the accent. 

I have to say that it was one of the hardest things I have ever done,” Jenna said. 

“It’s been a vocal journey. I can now say ‘tres bien’ correctly, which actually took me months.

“It became a bit of an intense French boot camp of training my mouth to make the noise ‘tre’. I felt like I was in My Fair Lady, having vocal training to change the movement of my mouth,” she continued. 

“It’s one thing being an English person speaking French, but to convincingly be a French person amongst French actors was kind of insane.

“I had an incredible coach… he taught me the English-French and also French-Canadian. It’s all different pronunciation which apparently to French people sound very different! 

The Serpent airs tonight at 9pm on BBC One. 

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