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The Essex Serpent differs from the book it's based on in one key way

Have you started watching the new Apple TV+ drama yet?

the essex serpent book
Eve Crosbie
Eve CrosbieTV & Film Writer
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The Essex Serpent, Apple TV+'s brand new six-part drama starring Marvel actor Tom Hiddleston and Homeland's Claire Danes, has finally arrived on screens.

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Based on Sarah Perry's bestselling novel of the same name, the series tells the story of a woman named Cora Seaborne, who travels to the Essex marshes in search of a mythical serpent, and while there, strikes up a friendship with a local vicar. But is the show faithful to its source material? Find out here…

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Lead stars Tom Hiddleston and Claire Danes have assured fans of the book that the Apple TV+ series has not strayed too far from the original contents, with Tom telling E! News: "I think we were very faithful."

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"I don't think it is very different," Claire added. "So much of the book is about the environment that they're in and nature as the sublime and I think [director Clio Barnard] captured that really brilliantly and beautifully."

The_Essex_Serpent_clemence© Apple TV+

The series does not incorporate all of the fantastical elements of the novel

However, there are a few very minor changes that Clio and writer Anna Symon have chosen to make when it came to translating some of the more fantastical elements of the novel to screen.

For example, while local surgeon Luke Garrett is nicknamed 'The Imp' in the book due to his gargoyle-like physical appearance, the series has done away with this part of his character, casting Harry Potter star Frank Dillane in the role and not using any prosthetics or makeup to alter his appearance. Consequently, he's presented as a genuine love interest for Cora, rather than a comical one.

The_Essex_Serpent_frank© Apple TV+

Luke Garrett is played by Frank Dillane

Similarly, Clémence Poésy's character Stella Ransome is also humanised for the series; while throughout the course of the book, she finds herself gradually turning blue, this doesn't happen on the show. Speaking to press, Clemence explained that while Stella's change wasn't played out on screen, it still influenced her portrayal of the character.

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"I still kind of turned blue in my head - just no one knew!" she explained. "And the set was gradually turning very blue. But of course it's a very different thing to have access to the inner monologue of every character to writing a script in order to turn it into a movie. So it was quite different."

Frank added of his character: "I tried to be as impish as possible because I know that he was always referred to as 'the imp'. So I tried to think of qualities that you might associate with an imp, and they seemed to be mischievous and kind of trickster-y."

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