First episode date
26 December 2015
Harry Bradbeer, Andy Hay
Country of origin
No. of series
Final episode date
21 February 2016
Tony JordanSarah PhelpsSimon WinstoneJulie RutterfordJustin YoungChloe Moss
Harry BradbeerPhilippa LangdaleMark BrozelAndy Hay
Shetland (TV series), The Bletchley Circle, Doctor Foster (TV series)
Dickensian trailer brand new original drama bbc one
Dickensian is a British drama television series that premiered on BBC One from 26 December 2015 to 21 February 2016. The 20-part series, created and co-written by Tony Jordan, brings together iconic characters created by Charles Dickens in one Victorian London neighbourhood as Inspector Bucket investigates the murder of Ebenezer Scrooge's partner Jacob Marley.
Dickensian was commissioned by Danny Cohen and Ben Stephenson. The executive producers are Polly Hill and Tony Jordan and the production company behind the series is Red Planet Pictures. Red Planet Pictures's Alex Jones vowed to lobby HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to relax the tax-relief rules for Dickensian; tax relief is only given for dramas longer than 30 minutes and each episode of Dickensian lasts 30 minutes. In April 2016, the BBC confirmed that they had cancelled the show after one series.
The cast includes the following:
Internationally, the series premiered in Australia on BBC First on 7 February 2016, but it was broadcast as 13 45-minute episodes in contrast to the 20 half-hour-long instalments broadcast in the UK.
It also premiered in The Netherlands on BBC First on 5 January 2016.
In Finland the series was broadcast on YLE as ten one-hour episodes beginning December 2, 2016.
Reviewing the first episodes in The Guardian Sam Wollaston noted its jumble of characters and events: "Tony Jordan has taken a whole bunch of Dickens characters from their novels and put them into something else. […]. It's like EastEnders meets A Christmas Carol meets Great Expectations meets Oliver Twist meets Bleak House meets Our Mutual Friend, and I've certainly missed some out. Meets Agatha Christie, too, because here's another body – Marley's this time – coshed over the head and left lying in the snow". He added, "The set is beautiful, and there are showy Dickensian performances from a starry cast. It's clever, certainly, and must have been a labour of love, unpicking all these people from their works, weaving them into something else." But he had a problem "with the whole exercise – starting with the characters, someone else's, and then figuring out what they're going to be doing. Are things not better if they grow together, as one, characters, stories, style, themes etc? And the problem with these particular characters is that the new thing is never going to be as good as the thing they came from". He concluded, "And I'm having real problems figuring out what the bleedin' 'ell is going on. It's clear like the fog down by the dock where Fagin lives. It – the fog – does lift a bit; by the end of the second episode (of 20! that’s a big ask), I'm a bit less fuddled. And it begins to pick up momentum of its own. But I wonder how many of the viewers who set off will get this far".
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Michael Hogan was more impressed, giving the opening two episodes a full five stars: "Jordan put a pacy, playful and subtly sudsy new spin on much-loved material. Its debut double bill left me saying, 'Please, sir, I want some more'". He observed, "Dickensian will unfold in 20 half-hour instalments, its format reminiscent of the BBC's landmark serialisation of Bleak House a decade ago. Such soap-style scheduling isn't far removed from how Dickens told his original stories, published in short instalments with cliffhanger endings, the multiple plot threads drawn inexorably together over time". Hogan concluded, "Jordan is a Dickens super-fan and his love of the great man's works seeped through every line of the sparkling script. This 200-year-old treat in 21st-century wrapping was an ingeniously conceived, handsomely crafted gift - signed, with love, from Jordan and Dickens. Consider this my thank-you letter".
In The Independent on Sunday, Amy Burns found the opening episodes to be a "brilliant BBC re-imagining" and a "clever and compelling Dickens mash-up". She praised Stephen Rea for playing Inspector Bucket "utterly faultlessly", adding, "His mannerisms and vocal intonation were absolutely spot-on and the script was excellent".
For Radio Times' Ben Dowell, "the first and most obvious question to ask is this: they may have the same names and look like they are described in the books, but who are these people? Can they really be said to be Dickens characters? The great Victorian novelist invented these richly-drawn characters to fit into the novels he wrote. He was a storyteller, first and foremost, someone who wrote episodic narratives driven by the unstoppable force of his ingeniously-crafted plots. He populated his books with amazing characters, of course, but tearing them away from their stories is to essentially denude them of their essential life and being". He compared the opening episodes to "a weird Doctor Who episode where the Doctor enters some kind of weird alien dream world populated by characters formed from half-remembered dreams of his reading of English Victorian literature". Conceding that "Jordan has also rather cleverly managed to fashion a whodunit plot out of the death of Marley”, Dowell decided, “if I am honest I am not sure I will be hanging around to find out more. This is fast-paced, well written soapy drama. But it's also, for me, a messy pudding that is – but really isn't – Dickens".