Oliver Twist (1999)

TV Mini-Series  |   |  Drama
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Based on Charles Dickens' novel, this adaptation traces the childhood of an orphan whose mother dies giving birth to him in an English work-house in the 1820s. Little Oliver Twist, already ... See full summary »

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Series cast summary:
 Mrs Bedwin (4 episodes, 1999)
 Monks (4 episodes, 1999)
 Mr Brownlow (4 episodes, 1999)
 Elizabeth Leeford (4 episodes, 1999)
 Mrs. Mann (4 episodes, 1999)
David Ross ...
 Mr Bumble (4 episodes, 1999)
Sam Smith ...
 Oliver Twist (3 episodes, 1999)
John Grillo ...
 Mr Grimwig (3 episodes, 1999)
Charlotte Le Moignan ...
 Young Rose Fleming (3 episodes, 1999)
 Nancy (3 episodes, 1999)
 Fagin (3 episodes, 1999)
 Bill Sikes (3 episodes, 1999)
Alex Crowley ...
 Artful Dodger (3 episodes, 1999)
 Rose Fleming (3 episodes, 1999)
 Bet (3 episodes, 1999)
 Charley Bates (3 episodes, 1999)
Liz Smith ...
 Sally (2 episodes, 1999)
 Homely Maid (2 episodes, 1999)
 Mr Fleming / ... (2 episodes, 1999)
 Giles (2 episodes, 1999)
Morgan Jones ...
 Brittles (2 episodes, 1999)
 Agnes Fleming (2 episodes, 1999)
David Bark-Jones ...
 Dr. Losberne (2 episodes, 1999)
Laura Grace Cockroft ...
 Chertsey Maid (2 episodes, 1999)
 Edwin Leeford (2 episodes, 1999)
Rosalind March ...
 Mrs Corney / ... (2 episodes, 1999)
 Woodcroft (2 episodes, 1999)
 Mr Sowerberry / ... (2 episodes, 1999)
Calum MacPherson ...
 Blacksmith Bignall (2 episodes, 1999)
Alan Pentony ...
 Pedlar (2 episodes, 1999)
Hilary Sesta ...
 Martha, Female Pauper (2 episodes, 1999)


Based on Charles Dickens' novel, this adaptation traces the childhood of an orphan whose mother dies giving birth to him in an English work-house in the 1820s. Little Oliver Twist, already abused, starved and overworked, is apprenticed to an undertaker and runs away to London after being bullied by an older apprentice. There, he is taken in by Fagin, a fence and thief-trainer, and his gang of pickpockets. He is befriended by Nancy, a good-hearted prostitute, and meets her lover, the brutal housebreaker Bill Sikes. But attempts by the gang to discredit him result in his being taken in by Mr. Brownlow, a wealthy and charitable man, who proves the catalyst for Oliver's discovery of his background and identity. Here Alan Bleasdale's dramatisation differs from Dickens' novel, in that Oliver does not fall into Brownlow's hands by coincidence, and we already know his back story: he's the child of a young woman named Agnes Fleming and her married lover, Edwin Leeford, who dies while on a trip... Written by G.M. Baxter

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Release Date:

8 October 2000 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


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(4 parts)

Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


The very flowery wording in the episode titles is based on the language which Charles Dickens used for the chapter titles in his original novel "Oliver Twist". See more »


Brownlow: You state my case very well Dr. Losberne. So well in fact that I feel I could rest the case right now. But I won't, you see, I knew the man who Rose's sister was in love with. He was my best friend. He was charming. He was delightful company. He was witty. He was handsome. And he was feckless! And he was hopeless! And he was a fool! But above all, Losberne, he was irresponsible! Do you want me to give you chapter and verse?
Dr. Losberne: Not really, no. In fact not at all sir.
Brownlow: Well how unfortunate for you ...
See more »


Version of A Modern Oliver Twist (1906) See more »


Fantasia for Piano 4 Hands in F Minor
Music by Franz Schubert
Played onscreen by Michael Kitchen
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent adaptation
30 March 2000 | by (Melbourne, Australia) – See all my reviews

Surely Oliver Twist has been 'done to death' by now. It must be one of the popular standard novels for dramatisation; and nearly every fan of historical dramas must have seen several versions of it.

And now for something completely different. This version is a modern re-writing of the story and does not follow the novel closely. Or at least, it follows it very loosely. At the end of episode one Oliver has only just been born. And born in graphic detail -- rather more realistic than a midwifery video. Half the first episode is spent in Rome.

In this modern re-telling Oliver's antecedents are explained in detail: his parentage, his weak-willed father, his exploited mother, his evil, murderous mother and insane half-brother. How Agnes Fleming's portrait is found in Mr Brownlow's house is explained; the story of the locket is told in loving detail. And all this with the excellence in recreating the 19th century that only the British can muster.

If you are a purist who likes your Dickens to follow the book as closely as possible then this recreation may not be for you. I love Dickens but nevertheless found this version -- the story behind the story -- to be a marvellous, entertaining dramatisation.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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