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Masterpiece Theatre: Bleak House 

Bleak House (original title)
The great case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce drags on, an obsession to all involved. Then a question of inheritance becomes a question of murder.
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1  
1985  
3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
Diana Rigg ...  Lady Honoria Dedlock 7 episodes, 1985
Denholm Elliott ...  John Jarndyce 7 episodes, 1985
Suzanne Burden Suzanne Burden ...  Esther Summerson 7 episodes, 1985
Jonathan Moore Jonathan Moore ...  William Guppy 7 episodes, 1985
Chris Pitt Chris Pitt ...  Jo 6 episodes, 1985
Robin Bailey Robin Bailey ...  Sir Leicester Dedlock 6 episodes, 1985
Lucy Hornak Lucy Hornak ...  Ada Clare 6 episodes, 1985
Philip Franks Philip Franks ...  Richard Carstone / ... 5 episodes, 1985
Sylvia Coleridge ...  Miss Flite 5 episodes, 1985
Bernard Hepton ...  Krook 5 episodes, 1985
Sam Kelly ...  Snagsby 5 episodes, 1985
Pamela Merrick Pamela Merrick ...  Hortense 5 episodes, 1985
Peter Vaughan ...  Tulkinghorn 5 episodes, 1985
T.P. McKenna ...  Harold Skimpole 4 episodes, 1985
Brian Deacon ...  Allan Woodcourt 4 episodes, 1985
Graham Crowden ...  Lord Chancellor 4 episodes, 1985
Eileen Davies ...  Judy Smallweed 4 episodes, 1985
Charlie Drake ...  Smallweed 4 episodes, 1985
Dave King ...  Sergeant George 4 episodes, 1985
Heather Tobias Heather Tobias ...  Jenny / ... 4 episodes, 1985
Frank Windsor ...  Gridley 4 episodes, 1985
Robert Urquhart ...  Laurence Boythorn 3 episodes, 1985
Felicity Finch Felicity Finch ...  Rosa 3 episodes, 1985
Samantha Holland ...  Charley Neckett 3 episodes, 1985
Harry Jones Harry Jones ...  Phil Squod 3 episodes, 1985
Kathy Burke ...  Guster 2 episodes, 1985
Jack Carr Jack Carr ...  Brickmaker / ... 2 episodes, 1985
Peter-Hugo Daly Peter-Hugo Daly ...  Lizzy's Man / ... 2 episodes, 1985
Gabrielle Daye ...  Mrs. Rouncewell 2 episodes, 1985
Arthur Hewlett ...  Waggoner 2 episodes, 1985
Ian Hogg ...  Inspector Bucket 2 episodes, 1985
Stephen Kemble Stephen Kemble ...  Footman 2 episodes, 1985
Cathy Murphy ...  Housemaid 2 episodes, 1985
Katharine Page Katharine Page ...  Mrs. Smallweed 2 episodes, 1985
Rebecca Sebborn Rebecca Sebborn ...  Young Esther 2 episodes, 1985
George Sewell ...  Ironmaster Rouncewell 2 episodes, 1985
James Snell James Snell ...  Barrister 2 episodes, 1985
Donald Sumpter ...  'Nemo' 2 episodes, 1985
Wanda Toubas Wanda Toubas ...  Lizzy 2 episodes, 1985
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Storyline

The great case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce drags on, an obsession to all involved. Then a question of inheritance becomes a question of murder.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Crime

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Details

Official Sites:

PBS [United States]

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 April 1985 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Masterpiece Theatre: Bleak House See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Last TV drama role of Gerald Flood. See more »

Connections

Version of Bleak House (1922) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Wonderful Adaptation
27 May 2005 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

This production was made in the middle 1980s, and appears to be the first serious attempt to put BLEAK HOUSE on celluloid. No film version of the novel was ever attempted (it is remarkably rich in subplots that actually serve as counterpoints to each other, so that it would have been very hard to prune it down). The novel was the only attempt by Dickens to make a central narrator (one of two in the work) a woman, Esther Summerson. Esther is raised by her aunt and uncle, who (in typical Dickens style) mistreat her. She is illegitimate, but they won't tell her anything about her parentage. Later we get involved with the gentry, Sir Leicester Dedlock, and his wife. Lady Honoria Deadlock (Dame Diana Rigg) is having an increasingly difficult time regarding her private life and the meddling involvement of the family solicitor Tulkinghorn (Peter Vaughn). We also are involved with the actions of Richard Carstone (Esther's boyfriend) in trying to win a long drawn out estate chancery case, Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, which everyone (even Richard's cousin John Jarndyce - played by Desmond Elliot) warns is not worth the effort.

Dickens had been a law reporter and then a parliamentary reporter before he wrote fiction. Starting with the breach of promise case in PICKWICK PAPERS, Dickens looked closely at the law. Mr. Bumble said it was "a ass" in OLIVER TWIST and Dickens would consistently support that view. He looks at the slums as breeding grounds for crime in TWIST, that the law barely tries to cure. He attacks the Chancery and outdated estate laws, as well as too powerful solicitors and greedy lawyers (Tulkinghorn, Vholes) in BLEAK HOUSE. In LITTLE DORRIT he attacks the debtors' prisons (he had hit it also in David COPPERFIELD). In OUR MUTUAL FRIEND he looks at testators and wills. In THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD he apparently was going to go to a murder trial. Dickens was far more critical of legal institutions than most of his contemporaries, including Thackeray.

But the novel also looks at other problems (like charity and religious hypocrisy, the budding Scotland Yard detective force, social snobbery in the industrial revolution). He also uses the novel to satirize various people: Leigh Hunt the writer, Inspector Fields of Scotland Yard, and even the notorious Maria Manning. Most of these points were kept in this fine mini-series version. If it is shown again on a cable station, catch it.


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