When young Nell Trent's grandfather loses the investment money of wharf owner Daniel Quilp with cards, Quilp develops an everlasting urge to get him put in the madhouse. Nell and her grandfather flee the city.
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Despite the poor reviews here, I find this series holds up very well on a repeat viewing, I first saw it aged 12 on it's original broadcast. Now, as then, Trevor Peacock's Quilp was what kept me watching. Evil yet gleeful, drinking and smoking and quiping nastily at all within range.
The production's weakness are the story's really, which cannot be helped. It is hard to work up much sympathy for the weak-willed grandfather, but Nell is easy to root for, as is Dick Swiveller, whose scatterbrained asides and meanderings are very good fun.
It feels dark and dirty and oppressive, yet there is good in the world, and Dickens keeps you wondering which will emerge victorious. (Dis)honourable mention to Sampson Brass too, his snivelling obedience and toadying is very well done.
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