Dickens' Early Classic Given The BBC Family Serial Treatment
Although considered lightweight when compared to later works, this (to date) most recent adaptation of Dickens' first major work is still a delight.
Nigel Stock was born to play this role after decades of creditable character parts and a short-lived lead as Owen M.D. a spin-off from the BBC soap opera, The Newcomers (1967-1971). Another notable performance is from Patrick Malahide as Mr Jingle.
At the time it was a revelation, as Malahide was then principally known for his role of Chisholm in the Euston Films series Minder. Almost stealing the show from both Stock & Malahide however is Phil Daniels as Sam Weller, unsuprising as Weller is one of the stand out characters in Dickens' novel. Daniels however manages, to give his portrayal an added flourish, proving that he was more talented than his roles to that date had revealed. Jack Davies' adaptation is creditable, as is the direction from Brian Lighthill, although the original broadcast format of twelve 30 minute episodes diminished the impact on audiences. I would have preferred less episodes of longer duration. The BBC Video presentation released in the late 80's edited all but the opening & final titles (plus the excellent narration from Ray Brooks), reducing the running time to 5 hours.
To date, this remains the best adaptation and deserves a DVD release, hopefully with all Ray Brooks' narration restored.
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