... hardly "Little" when you see it spread over 12 half-hour and two hour-long bookend episodes, BBC's new production repeats the successful episodic template of the previous "Bleak House", with adaptor-extraordinaire Andrew Davies' latest dramatisation of classic Dickens again, proving, on the whole to be a successful and highly entertaining epic. The novel (no pun intended) idea of breaking down the book to bite-size half-hour chunks to echo the monthly magazine serialisation in Dickens' own time, certainly kept me looking forward with anticipation to the next one, even if it does cater to the half-hour-soap mentality and attention-span of much of today's target audience. The settings were superb, with every background filled in and peopled appropriately, from the squalor of The Marshalsea Prison to the grandeur of the stately homes of London and Venice as The Dorrits make their parabolic journey on the path of moral regeneration. The direction was well-paced and occasionally imaginative while the acting, with a few exceptions was excellent, particularly in the crucial main roles where Claire Foy and Matthew Macfadyen in arguably the leads convey without too much sentimentality (Dickens' goodly characters frequently teeter on the edge of over-sentimental caricature) their traits of honesty, loyalty, self-sacrifice and humility. The story has elements of Trollope's "The Way We Live Now" (another recent BBC/Davies triumphant adaptation) in its exposure of the unprincipled fat-cats at the centre of high finance, with of course echoes of today's post-credit-crunch collapsing banks in the depiction of Mr Merdle as the epicentre of the bubble that has to burst sometime. Plus ca change... Everyone will have their own favourites amongst the rest of the cast. I was particularly impressed by Eddie Marsan as the tough rent-collector with a heart, the snorting Pankes, Russell Tovey as the lovelorn lock-keeper's son John Chivery, Ruth Jones as Clennam's blowsy, bloated childhood sweetheart, Flora Flinching (her transformation from the slim teenager of his memory to today's fat frump, was deftly rendered) and Flora Robson lookalike Judy Parfitt as Arthur's cold, immovable (in every sense of the word) "mother". The biggest star on board, arguably, is Tom Courteney who skilfully makes sympathetic the basically aloof, pompous, self-deluding Mr Dorrit, particularly his descent into madness and sudden death. On the debit side, I found Freema Agyeman miscast and tending to overact in the admittedly difficult part of Tattycoram and if I was being picky just a little too much of the archetypal Victorian melodramatic villain in the performances of John Alderton and Andy Serkis as the rogues of the piece, Casby and Rigaud/Blandois. Davies' screenplay as ever can't resist the odd allusion to today, but I always find such moments jarring and there are certainly some crudities here which I don't recall Dickens employing. Seems such a shame to go to all the trouble of period recreation to besmirch it with clever-clever in-jokes to a modern audience. That said however, I was thoroughly transported into the Dickens' world that I love and wait with anticipation, the next production. Davies should take on a real challenge in my opinion next time with "Edwin Drood" and fashion us a credible conclusion to Dickens' death-shortened final work.