Bucket has identified Jacob Marley's killer but faces a moral dilemma. Arthur Havisham is devastated, not only has he set his sister up with Compeyson, but he can't see a way of ever being reconciled...
Honoria goes into labour with only her sister, who knows nothing about childbirth, there to help her. With her life in peril only Captain Hawdon can help Honoria, but will his feud with Frances allow...
Features characters from Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, Bleak House, A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, The Old Curiosity Shop, Our Mutual Friend, Martin Chuzzlewit, Barnaby Rudge, The Pickwick Papers, Hard Times, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Dombey and Son. See more »
In A Christmas Carol, Jacob Marley is said to be dead 7 years before the story takes place. Tiny Tim is a small boy, the youngest of the brood. Yet, here in Dickensian, Tim is the age he would be in 7 years by the original story. Marley just died. See more »
Thoroughly Enjoyable Serialization Inspired by Dickens's Novels
Produced by Tony Jordan (who also wrote seven of the twenty episodes), formerly of EASTENDERS, DICKENSIAN could be superficially described as a nineteenth century transposition of the BBC's popular soap opera. The action takes place in an unspecified London street teeming with people - beggars, hawkers, sellers, pedestrians - and lined with shops. A pub ("The Three Cripples") provides a focus for much of the action just like the Queen Vic in the soap. The protagonists originate from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and interact with one another on cold winter days, where the snow mostly lies thick on the ground or falls lightly. The only thing missing from DICKENSIAN that would give it the authentic EASTENDERS touch is the familiar line of dialogue where one character wants to "have a li'le talk (tawk)" with another.
Frivolity apart, DICKENSIAN is a highly entertaining mélange of various plots, all moving outwards from the central incident taking place in episode one - the murder of Jacob Marley (Peter Firth). Inspector Bucket (Stephen Rea) of "the Detective" (Scotland Yard had not yet been created) pursues the case with relentless persistence, despite occasional misfortunes (such as putting his back out). With his Sarff Lundun accent and quiet manners, he has a knack of making people talk without resorting to violence.
In a subplot, Mr. Barbary (Adrian Rawlins) tries to maintain a facade of gentility despite being in considerable hock to Marley and Scrooge (Ned Dennehy). He has two daughters - one a perpetual spinster (Alexandra Moon), the other a flighty spendthrift (Sophie Rundle) in love with a penniless soldier (Ben Starr).
Miss Havisham (Tuppence Middleton) has inherited her father's fortune as well as control of the family brewery, leaving her brother Arthur (Joseph Quinn) with a small inheritance. Resentful of her power - which he believes is unjust - he collaborates with Meriwether Compeyson (Tom Weston-Jones) to try and recover it. Compeyson is a lip-smackingly convincing villain, able to turn on the charm where necessary as well as commit unspeakably evil deeds (such as drowning Miss Havisham's dog).
A galaxy of lesser characters revolve round these plots: Mrs. Gamp (Pauline Collins) sets her amorous sights on Silas Wegg (Christopher Fairbank); Mrs. Bumble (Caroline Quentin) tries to fulfill her social ambitions despite her husband's (Richard Ridings's) physical and mental inertia; and Fagin (Anton Lesser) tries every trick in the book to keep Bill Sikes (Mark Stanley) under control. Oh, and we must not forget the Cratchit family trying to continue an edenic existence under the most trying of circumstances.
Each one of the twenty half-hour episodes intertwines these plots, creating a world of perpetual motion wherein something always seems to be going on. It is a tribute to Jordan's production that he has managed to portray mid-nineteenth century London as a teeming city riddled with corruption, yet with some elements of kindness thrown in.
Purists might object to the series on the grounds that it is not "faithful" to Dickens's novels in the sense of reproducing the plots. Rather it could be described as a mash-up of all the most memorable characters from a variety of texts (GREAT EXPECTATIONS, OLIVER TWIST, PICKWICK PAPERS, and so on). Yet the series is very Dickensian in outlook: many of the novels were originally written in serial form, and Dickens's readers used to eagerly await the next installment to find out what happened to their favorite characters. This is precisely the feeling we get from DICKENSIAN.
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