The Essex Serpent — release date, trailer, cast interview, plot and all about the Victorian costume drama

Claire Danes is Cora Seaborne and Tom Hiddleston plays Will Ransome in The Essex Serpent on Apple TV+.
Claire Danes is Cora Seaborne and Tom Hiddleston plays Will Ransome in The Essex Serpent on Apple TV+. (Image credit: Apple TV+)

The Essex Serpent is set to become the next period drama to get totally obsessed about! Based on Sarah Perry’s bestseller, The Essex Serpent goes back to the East of England in the 19th century and promises windswept Essex landscapes, plus plenty of Victorian superstitions. There's a top-notch cast, too, including Loki star Tom Hiddleston and Homeland’s Claire Danes.

So here’s everything you need to know about The Essex Serpent on Apple TV Plus...

The Essex Serpent release date

The Essex Serpent launches worldwide on Apple TV+ on Friday, May 13 2022, when the first two episodes of the six-parter will be available. 

The remaining episodes then run weekly.

The Essex Serpent plot

The Essex Serpent is set in 1893, and the six-parter follows newly-widowed Cora Seaborne (Claire Danes, see our main picture), who is finally freed from an abusive marriage when her husband dies. Keen to start afresh, Cora moves from London to the small Essex village of Aldwinter and becomes intrigued by a local superstition that a mythical creature known as the 'Essex Serpent' has returned to the area.  

Cora explores the rumors of this mythical sea dragon — a kind of dinosaur that survived extinction. But she soon clashes with the local vicar, Will Ransome (Tom Hiddleston), who’s determined to lay superstition to rest in his rural parish, dealing with the frightening rumors as they begin to spread throughout the community...

Who's ready for a monster hunt in The Essex Serpent?

Who's ready for a monster hunt in The Essex Serpent? (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Is there a trailer for The Essex Serpent?

Yes a trailer for The Essex Serpent has arrived from Apple TV Plus, and this period drama looks stylish, frightening and super creepy, just as we'd expected. Take a look below...

The Essex Serpent cast — Claire Danes on playing Cora Seaborne

Cora Seaborne is played by Hollywood actor Claire Danes after she took over from Keira Knightly, who had to drop out due to issues securing childcare during the pandemic. 

Claire Danes told us: "Cora is a stranger to herself, she hasn't had an opportunity to realise who she is while being held captive by her abusive marriage. Now, she shoots to the surface."

‘Filming The Essex Serpent was evocative and beautiful but the weather was wet, windy and occasionally brutal. You should have seen the bathroom in my trailer — I wore so many layers of petticoats that would drag the mud in!"

Claire is no stranger to top TV series, having secured numerous awards as Carrie Mathison in eight series of Homeland. Her film credits also include Little Women, Romeo + Juliet, Les Miserables, The Hours and A Kid Like Jake.

The Essex Serpent

Claire Danes as Cora Seaborne in The Essex Serpent. (Image credit: Apple TV+)

The Essex Serpent cast — Tom Hiddleston as Will Ransome

Tom Hiddleston in The Essex Serpent.

Tom Hiddleston in The Essex Serpent. (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Tom Hiddlestone plays trusted community leader Will Ransome, who battles with Cora over her superstitious beliefs. The British star rose to international fame as Loki in the Thor and Avengers film franchises. He’s currently starring in the Disney+ series Loki, and also won many fans as Jonathan Pine in 2016 thriller The Night Manager.

Tom Hiddleston in "Loki" on Disney Plus.

Tom Hiddleston in Loki on Disney Plus. (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Speaking of filming The Essex Serpent Tom Hiddleston told us: "I loved it! I was so grateful to spend time in a part of England that I didn't know well. It was windy, wet and muddy but very evocative and wild. 

"The tide is so quick that we had to be careful we weren’t swept away. But I became the cliché of an Englishman constantly insisting that the weather will improve!"

He also revealed that his character, vicar Will Ransome, doesn't believe in the Essex serpent like Cora Seaborne does: "Will sees the serpent as a childish imagining almost like monsters under the bed. But he is concerned that the rumors are creating anxiety, which will affect the mental well-being of the village. He's worried about the nightmarish prospect where suddenly they’re believing in monsters that he feels don't exist.” 

Elizabeth Debicki and Tom Hiddleston in The Night Manager.

Elizabeth Debicki and Tom Hiddleston in The Night Manager. (Image credit: BBC )

The Essex Serpent — who else is starring

Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston will be joined by The Tunnel, Birdsong and Harry Potter star Clemence Poesy as Will’s wife Stella Ransome. Other stars include Frank Dillane as Luke Garrett, Hayley Squires as Martha, and Jamael Westman as Dr George Spencer.

Frank Dillane as Luke Garrett in The Essex Serpent.

Frank Dillane as Luke Garrett in The Essex Serpent. (Image credit: Apple TV+)

The Essex Serpent — locations and other news

Filming for The Essex Serpent began in February 2021 in London and a number of Essex locations including Alresford, Brightlingsea and North Fambridge. The production has also been to Essex itself, with some outside scenes filmed at Promenade Park in in Maldon. Film crews were on site making the area look like it was straight out of the 1800s. Large white marquees also were erected in the park.

The Essex Serpent is directed by BAFTA-award winner Clio Barnard (The Selfish Giant, The Arbor), with Anna Symon (Deep Water, Mrs Wilson) adapting the novel into script form. The pair also serve as executive producers alongside Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Patrick Walters. The series is produced for Apple TV+ by See-Saw Films.

The Essex Serpent — all about author Sarah Perry

The Essex Serpent is the second novel by 41-year-old Essex-born author Sarah Perry and was published in 2016 to rave reviews. It went on to be nominated for the 2016 Costa Book Awards and was named Waterstones Book Of The Year 2016. Perry has also written After Me Comes the Flood (2014) and gothic novel Melmoth (2018.)

How To watch The Essex Serpent on Apple TV+

To watch The Essex Serpent on Apple TV+ you'll need to subscribe to Apple TV+ which costs $4.99 a month in the US after a 7 day free trial and is available on most major streaming services, including Apple products, Roku and Amazon Fire TV, and on the web.  You can get one year free if you buy an eligible Apple device.

Apple TV+ is currently £4.99 a month in the UK after a free 7-day trial. You can get one year free if you buy an eligible Apple device. The app is already pre-loaded if you have an iPhone, iPad or Mac. You can also download the app onto your television. To see if your television is supported by the service go to the apps section on your television and find the Apple TV app. 

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.