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
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 »
What happens if we see someone?
We shoot them.
What happens if we know 'em?
Depends on whether we like them or not.
[Brittles fires a shot and startles the cook]
Was that you Brittles?
You, you've just tried to shoot cook!
I know. But I don't like cook - she picks on me.
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The version which ran on ITV in England and CBC in Canada in late 1999 consisted of four two-hour episodes with commercials; the video for sale in the UK runs 386 minutes. When PBS ran the series on Masterpiece Theater in October 2000, it consisted of three two-hour episodes without commercials; the video available in North America runs 360 minutes. See more »
Some have taken Alan Beasdale to task for rewriting some aspects of the original Dickens story, but I think it was all for the best. It may not match the original story, but taken completely on its own it is nonetheless very compelling and captures the essence of the original well enough while adding some nice new elements.
This is a top notch production in every respect... writing, direction, acting, music, sets, costumes, etc. Robert Lindsay as Fagin is astounding among an absolutely terrific cast, with Sam Smith playing just the right light note as Oliver and Marc Warren a dutifully creepy Monks.
I've seen the whole thing twice now and enjoyed it even more the second time, with the six hours of it seeming to fly by. 10 out of 10
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