A MODERN adaptation of a classic psychological thriller had us enthralled over the festive period.

Black Narcissus portrayed the seething sexual repression of St Faiths Anglican nuns in the Himalayas.

A 1947 Hollywood film earned critical acclaim and the new cinema methods earned Jack Cardiff an Oscar and Golden Globe award.

This year, Bafta award-winning screenwriter Amanda Coe brought the tale back to life with actors Gemma Arterton, Diana Rigg, Aisling Franciosi and Jim Broadbent appearing on our screens.

But the storyline itself has its roots in a novel by Sussex-born writer Rumer Godden.

Born Margaret Rumer Godden in Eastbourne in 1907, she went on to live with her sisters in India.

She returned to Eastbourne to attend Moira House Girls School when she was aged 13.

The school in Upper Carlisle Road was a renowned independent school in the town, and has since merged with Roedean school.

The Argus:

Rumer Godden trained as a dance teacher and returned to India, running a dance school for English speakers for 20 years.

But she then became a novelist, with Black Narcissus her first bestseller in 1939.

Gemma Arterton took on the role of Sister Superior Clodagh in the 2020 adaptation, and hopes her performance will inspire people to read Rumer Godden’s novel.

She said: “I’m so proud of the work we did on this – we put our hearts and souls into it.

The Argus:

“We all went to Nepal and it took us three flights and a week to get there. We were in the middle of nowhere in the Himalayan mountains and it was a really special bonding experience.

“These things don’t come along very often at all. There was something really magical about this and the shoot itself for me was one of the highlights of my career so far.”

Meanwhile screenwriter Amanda Coe said: “Black Narcissus has been a dream of a job. It’s a fantastic book and the original film is a masterpiece, which was slightly daunting. It’s been a joy seeing it come to life from the screenplay.

“I was approached by DNA, the production company, about adapting the book. I was very aware of the film – it’s a huge favourite of mine – but I’d never read the book.

The Argus:

“When I read it, I realised the book is wonderful in its own right and I could see why there was a case for going back to the book and doing a different sort of adaptation that would feel more contemporary.”

Black Narcissus can be seen on BBC iPlayer.