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Half-way through this version of Charles Dickens' weighty novel seems a good time to comment on it. The BBC have taken the view that, as Bleak House was originally presented to its reading public in short magazine instalments, it is a good idea to present it in half-hour segments twice a week in the soap opera tradition.
Andrew Davies, who has adapted other books before such as Pride and Prejudice and House of Cards, has done an excellent job here - tweaking and inventing as you must to make television drama work, but without losing the context of the piece.
Despite the jarring camera work and bitty scenes, there are some outstanding performances here - Charles Dance as the scheming lawyer Tulkinghorn; Denis Lawson as John Jarndyce, attracted to his ward Esther despite having paid for her upkeep since she was a child; Pauline Collins as Miss Flyte, ever twittering on alongside her caged birds about 'the day of judgement'; Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock, who tries to hide her mysterious secret; Johnny Vegas, who fits the character of drunken landlord Krook like a glove; and many others.
There are also witty and perceptive cameos from the likes of Richard Griffiths, Matthew Kelly, and Ian Richardson.
I would have preferred to see hour-long episodes but that is only a small quibble (the other would be the invention of a character - Clamb
who seems to serve no useful purpose). This is an inventive and
excellent adaptation; not replacing the classic 1980s version, perhaps, but a worthy companion to it.
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