The BBC have got this one just right. As we sit bloatedly amongst the debris of our celebrations , a little sad that we’ve got to wait another year for Christmas to come again, in storms the Beeb with this festive TV treat.
Since Dickens is so popular and the BBC have earned themselves quite a reputation for excellent period drama, ‘great expectations’ was definitely what we had for this one. And we were not disappointed!
This three-part adaptation of the Dickens classic, which concludes tonight at 9pm on BBC1, stars Douglas Booth (looking uncannily like the new Declan out of Neighbours but wearing a top hat) as young hero Pip and Ray Winstone as the terrifying convict Magwitch. But it is Gillian Anderson who is the star of the show as jilted bride Miss Havisham.
It’s a really unusual casting choice, as Miss Havisham is traditionally portrayed as being an old lady in previous incarnations of Great Expectations whereas 43 year old Gillian Anderson plays her as her own age. It’s an interesting new take on the character and in fact Dickens’ own notes suggest she was actually only meant to be around 50.
With her face and hair chalked up, staring eyes and haunting voice, Anderson is a brilliantly creepy Miss Havisham, her comparative youth making the fragile, confused and disillusioned personality of her character seem even more sinister and wrong.
The other casting is right on the money as well (I particularly enjoy Poirot with a beard in the form of Jaggers), and the filming locations, costumes and period detail are very attractive-although London looks suspiciously like Prague to me! All in all it’s a very slick, beautifully shot and absorbing drama.
I really look forward to seeing what happens next. I fear things may not end too well for Pip…
Great Expectations, BBC 1, 9pm. Catch up on eps 1 and 2 on iplayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b018wmm1/Great_Expectations_Episode_1/