Former Tonbridge pupil is writer of TV's The Serpent

The writer Richard Warlow, who has achieved a massive TV hit and widespread critical acclaim with The Serpent, is a Tonbridge School alumnus.

The true-crime drama, which premiered on BBC One on New Year's Day, is the latest major success for Richard, pictured, the show’s lead writer, creator and joint executive producer. Since attending Tonbridge between 1985 and 1990, he has carved out an extremely successful career in both film and television.

According to recent figures released by the BBC, The Serpent, an eight-part thriller about the ‘Hippie Trail’ serial killer Charles Sobhraj, is the most popular new iPlayer series since Normal People, with episodes having been streamed more than 31 million times to date.

Commenting on its ratings success, Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama, said: “These exceptional figures are a testament to the power of telling the lesser-known, human side of a real-life story, and an exceptional creative team.”

The Observer described it as “The first great drama of the year”. The Week magazine was among many titles to list The Serpent, which features Tahar Rahim and Jenna Coleman in the lead roles, as one of the “best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021”, while The Evening Standard called the series “jaw-dropping ... unbelievably tense”, and The Guardian “a word-of-mouth sensation”.

Richard was also the lead writer, creator and executive producer on all five series of the BAFTA-nominated Ripper Street, which aired on the BBC and on Amazon Prime. Set in Whitechapel in the East End of London, in the months and years immediately following the infamous Jack the Ripper killings, the show was sold to 199 territories worldwide.

Before he started writing, Richard worked as the Head of Development at DNA Films and as a Development Executive at Pathé, before embarking on a career as a screenwriter with his first screenplay Three Mile Horizon, which was optioned to Paramount Pictures.

He is currently adapting Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's novel The Leopard, which will shoot in Rome and Sicily later this year.

Richard was first a boarder at Judde House (1985-88), then a day boy and Sixth Former at Whitworth House (1988-90). He said: “I never dreamed when I was at school that I'd go on to work in the TV and film industry but I'd encourage anyone to look for a career there. From writers and designers to technical crew and special effects, it is a multi-disciplinary environment which welcomes all skillsets and now employs almost 250,000 people UK wide.”

Richard is hoping to return to Tonbridge, to meet boys and staff, once normality resumes and the School can have visitors once more.