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In a storm, in a workhouse, to a nameless woman, young Oliver Twist is born into parish care where he's overworked and underfed. As he grows older his adventures take him from the countryside to London, through harsh treatment, kindness, an undertaker, and a thieves' dens, where he makes friends and enemies. But all the time he is pursued by the mysterious Monks, who hires Fagin to turn Oliver into a thief. Oliver is rescued by chance and kind friends. But it's a puzzle of legitimacy, inheritance, and identity that Oliver's friends must attempt to unravel before Monks can destroy Oliver. Written by
From the newspaper date seen in Oliver Twist: Episode #1.5 (1985), and other signs and inscriptions throughout, it is established that the bulk of the story takes place in 1835 and 1836, ending the year before the novel started serialization. This also explains the scattered references to the King rather than the Queen who is more commonly acknowledged in Charles Dickens works. The King is William IV, who died in 1837 and was succeeded by his niece Queen Victoria, who began the Victorian age which lasted for the majority of the 19th century. England would not have a king again until the accession of King Edward VII in 1901. See more »
Long version permits depth of detail, rich character development
This is an excellent version, well-acted, long enough to permit inclusion of Dickens' myriad confusing plots that keep the viewer guessing. It is broken into 12 28-minute episodes, reminiscent of the way Dickens serialized his novels. I dare anybody to watch just one - every one's a cliffhanger inviting you onwards. The acting is outstanding, though the strong dialect caused me to miss some lines. As Scott Funnell has noted in an earlier comment, the child actor who coincidentally has the same name does an outstanding job (and is rather adorable) as the young Oliver, as does the actor playing the larger (but according to Scott less important) role of the older Oliver.
This is one of a whole series of superb BBC adaptations of the major Dickens novels, every one a gem. Like some of the others, the DVD re-release of Oliver Twist includes as an extra an excellent performance by Simon Callow as Charles Dickens, reading a lengthy passage from the novel, recreating Dickens' own reading tours that played to packed houses. Don't miss it!
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