Have you seen “Dickensian”?


Imagine a London street in which all of your favourite Dickens’ characters meet. That is “Dickensian.”

With episodes directed by Harry Bradbeer, Mark Brozel, Philippa Langdale and Andy Hay, the BBC series “Dickensian” is reminiscent of the American fairy tale based series “Once Upon a Time” in that both productions sees a narrative created with characters drawn from many sources.

While the characters depicted in “Once Upon a Time” were created by different writers, the characters seen in “Dickensian” were all drawn from novels penned by nineteenth century British author Charles Dickens, hence the title of the series.

With characters drawn from “A Christmas Carol,” “Barnaby Rudge,” “Bleak House,” “Dombey and Son,” “Great Expectations,” “Hard Times,” “Martin Chuzzlewit,” “Oliver Twist,” “Our Mutual Friend,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” “The Old Curiosity Shop” and “The Pickwick Papers,” many of Dickens’ prominent characters were included in the production. Despite this point, anyone hoping to see the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future in the production will be sadly disappointed.

Although there have been criticism of both the number of foggy scenes and the copious number of hats shown in the series, it should be noted the production is not by any means contemporary in execution.

If you have read and or seen adaptations of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” you will be familiar with the opening paragraph of the source material:

“[Jacob] Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.”

In respect to the series, it was old Mr Havisham that was dead, to begin with, not Jacob Marley.

With the darkness of Dickens’ narratives so accurately realised, the attention to detail is exact in every respect. The sets and costumes being exquisitely crafted.

A narrative depicted in the series revolves around the murder of Marley. There is no prize for guessing the identity of the person that instigated the sudden death of the debt collector.

Then there is the depiction of prostitution. Even though the young ladies involved are questionably young, such social issues were not uncommon in the period in which both the source material and the series is set.

Dickens would be pleased with what has been televised, there is little doubt. Unfortunately for the people that enjoyed the production, the BBC has opted to now renew “Dickensian” for a second series. Even though this is merely speculation on my part, the cost of such a lavish production was too much for the BBC to continue.

Considering Marley’s ghost can clearly be heard towards the end of the last episode, the direction which the second series would have gone in is readily apparent.