Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer stars in new BBC2 drama

On Valentine’s Day in 1900 a group of schoolgirls set off for a picnic – and vanish without trace.

This visually stunning six-part drama is an adaptation of a 1967 novel by Australian author Joan Lindsay. Regarded as a classic Down Under, it’s said to be the greatest missing persons mystery ever written.

Game of Thrones ’ Natalie Dormer stars as enigmatic widow Hester Appleyard, who sets up a boarding school for girls.

But tragedy strikes when three star pupils – heiress Irma (Samara Weaving), cattle-station princess Miranda (Lily Sullivan) and judge’s daughter Marion (Madeleine Madden) – go missing.

Have they been murdered? Who would want to abduct them?

The community is torn apart by suspicion and paranoia as Hester tries to get to the bottom of what happened on that fateful day.

Natalie on her character’s torment, being frightening and her ‘love letter’ to an Australian national treasure

Were you anxious about adapting a much-loved book?

The Australian public were sceptical – and understandably so. Picnic at Hanging Rock is a national treasure there, and the 1975 movie also occupies a hallowed place in cinema history. Ours reimagines the story and is a love letter to the book.

You look quite frightening as Hester Appleyard…

The producers said they wanted me because I could be terrifying, but also vulnerable. Hester is a broken woman trying to recover from a profound trauma in her past by reinventing herself.

How does the disappearance of the girls affect her?

She starts to lose her mind because everything she’s built up starts slipping through her hands. Her reputation is demolished and parents take their children out of her school. Her inner demons have been unlocked.

What was filming in Australia like?

I was hit between the eyes by the majesty of the landscape. The sheer scale of it is just so powerful and epic. The Hanging Rock itself is sacred to the Aboriginal population. In the series I think we capture that mysterious, supernatural aspect.

Picnic at Hanging Rock is on Wed 9.05pm BBC2

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