Picnic at Hanging Rock is the BBC’s latest adaptation to hit screens. 

The story, originally by Joan Lindsay, focuses on a group of female students at an Australian boarding school.

However, the youngsters disappear at Hanging Rock when out on a Valentine’s Day picnic. 

The story goes some way to exploring the school and local community as many being to unravel. 

Natalie Dormer, who found fame in Game of Thrones as Margaery Tyrell, plays the school’s ruthless leader, Mrs Hester Appleyard, and immediately tries to get her girls under control. 

But even her steely exterior unravels when the girls go missing, something which Dormer revels in. 

She recently opened up on her role to the Radio Times, explaining the story is not all as it seems. 

Dormer, 36, teased: “People’s imaginations run wild when they think a group of three young girls and a teacher going missing. 

“Is it murder? Is it abuse? Is it dying of malnutrition in the middle of the outback? Have they run away?

“Your imagination just takes you there.”

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock: Natalie Dormer reveals REAL mystery behind BBC drama

Your imagination just takes you there

Natalie Dormer on Picnic at Hanging Rock

Furthermore, the story becomes an intensely dark one as the girls as Appleyard immediately becomes embroiled in the horror.

Hester finds her past being explored as it seems she isn’t the polished member of aristocracy she says she is. 

Dormer explained how Appleyard’s appearance becomes disheveled as her mental state does too. 

She said: “It doesn’t matter whether it’s Blanche Dubois or Hamlet, an actor getting to play a psychological unravelling is fun. But it also comes at a cost. 

“Picnic is dark; residue does get left [on you] because Hester doesn’t like herself and she has a lot of unanswered pain and trauma. 

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock: The mystery begins when the girls go missing

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock: How will Natalie Dormer’s character be unravelled?


“As an actor, you have to, at the end, walk away rom that, which isn’t always easy. 

“She was harder to shake off than a lot of [characters] can be.”

Dormer went on to admit Mrs Appleyard was a much tougher role to shake off than her Game of Thrones counterpart, adding how she needed some real downtime when filming came to an end. 

But will the girls be found alive and well? Only time will tell. 

Picnic at Hanging Rock stars tonight on BBC Two at 9.05pm. 

Read Natalie Dormer’s full interview about Picnic at Hanging Rock in this week’s Radio Times, available now. 


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