If you are anything like me, you are totally hooked on the BBC1 series Dickensian. It’s a 20-parter which brings together a number of characters from various books by Dickens… So most of these characters would never have met in “real” life.
The Story So Far
The short version of the plot that we know so far is that Joseph Marley (of A Christmas Carol fame) is murdered, and investigated by Inspector Bucket (Bleak House). Amelia Haversham (or Miss Haversham, as we know her from Great Expectations) appears as a young woman, and inherits most of her father’s estate. Her charming brother, who is unhappy at being almost disinherited, fits her up with Meriwether Compeyson. His advances are [wisely, in my opinion] rejected by Amelia. Meriwether vows to ruin Amelia financially. And probably emotionally too. Running alongside this plot are the financial problems of the Barbarys and the Cratchits.
I’m not great at paying full attention to what I’m watching on television, it’s more a background noise while I’m doing something else. It doesn’t matter when you are watching something fairly simple but Dickensian does take a bit of concentration, it just doesn’t make sense if you don’t keep up.
I think it’s a pretty good representation Dickens’ work and Victorian London, and there are some great actors in it. The wonderful Omid DJalili plays the taxidermist, Mr Venus (Our Mutual Friend), who seems to be venturing into early forensic pathology in Dickensian.
Stephen Rea plays Inspector Bucket (Bleak House)– a far cry from The Crying Game, but he plays the part well; one of the “new” detective branch officers. Apparently, though, he only appears in eight episodes, which only makes me wonder how the whole story is going to pan out. I thought it was going to be a Victorian detective story through and through…
Caroline Quentin, always fabulous, plays Mrs Bumble (Oliver Twist). I don’t remember Mrs B having a huge part in the book, and only appears in seven episodes in Dickensian. And then there is Pauline Collins who plays Mrs Gamp (Martin Chuzzlewit).
Dickens himself had to leave school early to get a job to help the family finances – his father got into financial difficulties. He worked long hours for little pay in a blacking-warehouse near to Charing Cross station – it later moved to Chandos Street. I believe that you can still see the remains of the warehouse there. Cutting a long story short, Dickens’ father ended up in a debtors’ prison, so even though Dickensian wasn’t written by Dickens, I have no doubt it will be dark and thorny right through to the end.
© Susan Shirley 2016