billy howle as herman knippenberg
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Is Herman Knippenberg still alive and where does The Serpent hero live today?

Does he still work as a diplomat?

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Herman Knippenberg is the unassuming but ultimate hero of BBC One’s hit drama The Serpent, but is he still alive?

The real-life Dutch diplomat helped hunt down conman and serial killer Charles Sobhraj in the 1970s.

Where does he live today? Here is all you need to know about the real life hero, whom actor Billy Howle plays in the BBC series.

Who is Herman Knippenberg in The Serpent?

Herman Knippenberg is a Dutch diplomat in The Serpent who ends up being a key figure in effectively hunting down the elusive criminal Charles Sobhraj.

billy howle as herman knippenberg
Billy Howle as Herman Knippenberg (Credit: BBC)

Working for the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok, he begins looking into the disappearance of two Dutch travelers, Henk Bintanja and Cornelia Hemker, in 1976.

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Herman is portrayed as a diplomat turned detective, as he soon discovers that the travellers are not only dead – but have been murdered.

However, their charred bodies had been misidentified as two missing Australian backpackers.

Is Herman Knippenberg still alive?

Herman Knippenberg is still alive and is 76-years-old.

He recently spoke with The Telegraph about his experience tracking down Charles Sobhraj.

He says he understands the public’s interest in the killer and fraudster. And he also compared the appeal to that of Charles Manson.

billy howle as herman knippenberg
Herman turns out to be the hero of the series (Credit: BBC)

Herman told the paper: “There’s something poignant and disturbing about hippies’ innocent, hopeful vision of the world, and what happens when that meets an uber-cynical, self-serving, [bleeped] up character who preys on it.”

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In fact, the retired diplomat spoke with actor Billy as he prepared for the role.

Billy told the Radio Times: “When I spoke to Herman, it was incredibly enlightening… not only [for] the story, but his perception of the story and the events that took place are so far removed from my own experience in life that it wasn’t immediately relatable.”

Where is Herman Knippenberg today?

Herman is retired and now lives in Wellington, New Zealand. This is the location of his last Diplomat position.

He lives with his second wife, Vanessa. He told The Telegraph that he now enjoys a peaceful life of country walks, watching movies and reading.

herman knippenberg
Herman Knippenberg was one of the first to realise how dangerous The Serpent was (Credit: BBC One)

How can I watch The Serpent?

The Serpent airs on BBC One at 9pm on Sundays.

Additionally, each episode of the series is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

The Serpent airs on Sundays at 9pm on BBC One. The entire series is available to watch on iPlayer.

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