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The Mystery Of Edwin Drood: I'm the director

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Diarmuid Lawrence Diarmuid Lawrence | 10:29 UK time, Monday, 9 January 2012

Charles Dickens died without finishing The Mystery Of Edwin Drood - in fact, he was only halfway through, leaving all the balls in the air and numerous hints, blind alleys, unrevealed connections and intriguing possibilities on display.

In short, a challenge not to be missed.

So, Gwyneth Hughes, a writer of great elegance, Anne Pivcevic (exec producer), Lisa Osborne (producer) and I enter weeks of intense discussions about how to bring this exciting and challenging work to the screen, not necessarily as Dickens would have done, because who knows what he intended, but in a way that remains true to most of what he did write.

And, about that ending... no, I'm not revealing that here! Be fair - this is The Mystery of Edwin Drood after all.

John Jasper (Matthew Rhys), Rosa Bud (Tamzin Merchant), Edwin Drood (Freddie Fox)

John Jasper (Matthew Rhys), Rosa Bud (Tamzin Merchant) and Edwin Drood (Freddie Fox)

So what's it about?

Drugs and stalking certainly, which gives it remarkable modernity, and the moral and mental collapse of John Jasper (Matthew Rhys) whose obsession with 17-year-old Rosa (Tamzin Merchant) leads to his murderous plans for her fiancé, his nephew, Edwin (Freddie Fox).

It is a murder mystery started when the genre was in its infancy.

Casting proves a joy. Freddie (yes, another talent from that dynastic family) virtually casts himself as the golden-haired youth blessed with everything that Jasper hasn't, including, of course, Rosa.

Matthew, newly returned to us from his American fame in Brothers And Sisters, seizes on such a different project as the perfect reintroduction to the British television audience. He is a dark and brooding revelation and a joy to work with.

Then to cast a cathedral - central to the story. Rochester, Dickens' home turf, is the template for Cloisterham, and much is shot there around the town and its cathedral precincts, but the interior is changed beyond recognition and attention shifts to St Bartholomew's church in Smithfield, London, a gloriously gaunt, dark, romantic and magically untouched space.

Drugs affected our decisions in developing the photographic style. Not directly, you understand, as the BBC is unaccountably reluctant to fund my personal research into the effects of opium, but in deliberately manipulating mood through light and enhancing Jasper's different view of the world.

He is a man aspiring to the celestial while going to the bad, so we film him some of the time as if hanging between the dark and the light.

We make his fantasies under opium rich and indulgent, but when his world fragments, his dreams are shot in an altogether bleaker way.

But enough of that.

Being Dickens, the story is also full of humour and humorous characters.

Durdles, the stone-mason, has a workhouse ragamuffin in tow called Deputy whom he's paid to 'stone him home' when he's drunk and who helps solve the mystery.

Alfie Davis as Deputy

Alfie Davis as Deputy

Many a boy auditioned for the part, but none stole our hearts until Alfie Davis, aged nine, auditioned by mobile phone from his holiday in Spain.

With his dad filming him while reading in for the other characters and offering the odd whack round the head (scripted), Alfie proved born for the role.

So now it's done and the final verdict rests, as it should, with the viewer.

But I like to think that the governor himself, the extraordinary Charles Dickens, would approve even if, as seems highly likely, it wasn't what he intended at all.

We all had great fun second-guessing him and the finished films are agreeably recognisable as true to our original vision.

Diarmuid Lawrence is the director of The Mystery Of Edwin Drood.

The Mystery Of Edwin Drood is on BBC Two on Tuesday, 10 January at 9pm.

For further programme times, please see the upcoming episodes page.

Watch the actor Matthew Rhys, producer Lisa Osborne and screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes discuss the contradictory character, John Jasper.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Much too dark and slow. Pity, I thought it might be good given the build up. I fell asleep half way through, so perhaps it picked up?

  • Comment number 2.

    A big risk! Since we dont know what happens to Edwin I'm not sure Ill like it if you put words into Dickens' mouth, Edwin Drood is a mystery, all the more so because we don't know how it ends...careful of over egging the pudding.

  • Comment number 3.

    I loved it - can't wait for tomorrow. Fresh, modern, great casting, gripping pace and narrative. I can't understand the previous comment. Many thanks.

  • Comment number 4.

    Absolutely BRILLIANT!! Totally gripped from the start & very true to the book. I personally thought everyone was SUPERBLY cast!! I can't wait for tomorrow!! Thanks! Xx

  • Comment number 5.

    I have not read the book, but I loved this evening's drama. The casting was excellent, and the pace and mood were, I thought, consistent and appropriate. One question obsesses me - what is the music that occurs towards the beginning, accompanying John Jasper's opium-induced dream, and again later on? It sounds familiar, but I'm not sure. Please tell. Well done to all involved.

  • Comment number 6.

    So far so good.Really enjoying this drama brilliant cast,looking forward to tonights episode.Well done!

  • Comment number 7.

    Brilliant - really looking forward to tomorrow. It could not be bettered so far as it is so dark and emotional.

  • Comment number 8.

    Thank you for such a positive response to Episode 1. I'm sorry onyourcase that you found it too dark, but it is a dark subject and most modern tvs can handle it even if, sadly, it wasn't for you.
    Stuart - all the music, with the exception of the two choral pieces was specially composed by score musician, John Lunn.
    I'll be fascinated to learn all your reactions to tonight's concluding episode. For a director a challenge such as this is a rare treat and being able to discuss it with you is a pleasure, if a little intimidating. Talk again tomorrow.

  • Comment number 9.

    Stunning cinematography by Alan Almond, perhaps some of the best I've seen on TV recently. Hats off to him and the grader.

  • Comment number 10.

    Looking forward to next episode.
    Had me on the edge of my seat! and NO chance of falling asleep.

  • Comment number 11.

    I can echo previous comments about the superb atmosphere created and the excellent cast. Matthew Rhys is just my idea of Jasper and Tamzin Merchant is a beautiful rosebud. Having S Asian actors for the Landlesses was a masterstroke - Dickens describes them as dark but I don't think I twigged their ethnicity when I read the book.

    But... going back to the book, the mystery is the disappearance of Edwin, and your adaptation has taken away the mystery by showing his murder half-way through. We'll never know Dickens' intention, and there are signposts to Jasper as a murderer, but why not defer this revelation to episode 2.

    Was it a ratings chasing decision? I think I knew when I started watching what the end of the first episode would be.

  • Comment number 12.

    The "You" in the previous post is me - Sundial!

  • Comment number 13.

    I really enjoyed this drama - it's good to see that a variety of Dickens work is explored including this very dark story. I can't wait to watch the second part tonight. One thing I hoped to see on the BBC shop was an indication as to when it will be available on DVD just as we will soon be able to buy Great Expectations only to find no such possibility - will we get to purchase a copy of this drama soon?

  • Comment number 14.

    I absolutely loved this. The natural light (or what appeared to be natural light) interior scenes worked brilliantly. I can't think of anything bad about it. Back to the music - thank you for replying, but I feel it is the choral music that I am recognising - could it be Wagner? Just a nod and a knowing smile would be enough! Thank you for a wonderful drama.

  • Comment number 15.

    Brilliant final episode and a clever twist to the ending...

    Can I please ask you who composed the two coral works also featured in the film, they were very beautiful!!

  • Comment number 16.

    Really gripped by the exciting twists in the plot and charmed by the wonderful
    characterisations of the vicar Mr Crisparkle and his ma, the pompous mayor Mr Sapsea and Mr Bazzard! Dark but very funny as well, loved it.

  • Comment number 17.

    I really loved this production, thank you all! After the much-hyped but disappointing Great Expectations I didn't set my hopes too high, but I was very pleasantly surprised indeed (Was it because of G.E.'s mixed reception that I didn't see too many ads for Edwin Drood btw?) The production values were great, and the plot was all I could have wished, but it was the casting that was so outstanding for me.. brilliant performances, believable characterisations. Plaudits especially for Alfie Davies as Deputy - I hope I see him often in future. Well done all!

  • Comment number 18.

    Totally gripping, settings so imaginative and atmospheric, wonderfully photographed, casting beyond dreams! Matthew Rhys was spellbinding. He is Welsh so of course can sing, but he did make a most convincing choirmaster in the rehearsal scene. Was he a choirboy at some point? Well yes, I realise actors do know about acting, but even so . . .
    I will now read the original. Downloaded it to my Kindle two days ago but haven't read it yet in case it spoiled the adaptation!! It's usually the other way round!

  • Comment number 19.

    PS Just a thought - did I recognise Phil Davis beneath six inches of grime? Or was it a deputy?

  • Comment number 20.

    Excellent adaptation- and far superior to the recent "Great Expectations"! Why? Because this was dark, mysterious and thrilling, but also treated its audience as intelligent, questioning viewers. There were a couple of wonderful performances in "Expectations"- particularly Gillian Anderson and Ray Winstone- but here the fantastic performances- kudos to Alun Armstrong and Matthew Rhys, but I was especially taken with Durdles and Bazzard, who managed the neat Dickensian trick of being earnest, eccentric, grotesque and oddly charming, all at once. Fabulous direction and writing. It's not as great a novel as "Expectations" ( for my money the greatest of all Dickens' works) but this was a superior adaptation. And that was entirely down to the talents of the creative team. Praise to you all...and can someone commission you to attempt "Hard Times"? Curiously appropriate for our current world...and you could bring out the tension and gloom beautifully!

  • Comment number 21.

    So is someone from the BBC going to let us in to the secret of what the choral music is?

    Realy frustrating TV the & movies will tell you in the credits who was the caterer etc, but often trying to find out about the music is a real pain!

    Trevor

  • Comment number 22.

    Matthew Rhys reminded me of Richard Burton...just the look and the voice at times. His performance as a mad, bad man in love was disturbing...but there was something missing in the script.....it just seemed too rushed. I was surprised that this was only over 2 episodes. Usually Dickens has the plot twisting and turning all over the place..this was just too fast. Apart from that really well made.
    Casting Sri Lankans was great for modern times , but not realistic for Dickens...and they certainly would not have been welcome in the society as they were portrayed in the prog, even to that decree. I also have read of Dickens not so savoury views on Muslims which was typical of Victorians at the time.

  • Comment number 23.

    just wanted to add...I loved Alun Armstong in this as well. More could have been explored of the other characters- especially the Landesses.
    But as I said the fiming costumes and and locations were great....

  • Comment number 24.

    I really enjoyed watching this..and loved the shift of sympathy in it..which is a very 21st century kind of storytelling..can't help feeling there something amiss in part two though the story began to stutter. I was left with the feeling there were missing scenes and that it should have taken longer to tell the story. It was difficult to work out the time frame...how long was Eddie missing for? When did Rosa get the ring back? Why didn't Neville go to court? How did Rosa go from terrified of Jasper to confronting him so quickly? Perhaps the contemporary storytelling took over and quickened the pace to much.... having said all that I loved the performances and the look of it...the strength of the mixed race characters...and I'm sure will find more to appreciate when I watch it again!

  • Comment number 25.

    Good morning all. I'm very pleased that you have found so much to your liking in our adaptation of this little known work. A couple of points to answer. Firstly, it was always going to be a short novel, not just because Dickens died half way through, but it was only ever intended to be twelve parts as opposed to his usual twenty.
    As to the Landlesses, they are described in the novel as 'dark'. Dicken's was well aware of an established trade route that ended in Rochester having started in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and come via Egypt. Peacerose, they are scripted as having come from a Christian mission school - they are not Muslims - Islam was a minority faith in Ceylon as it remains in modern day Sri Lanka.
    Stuart and Trevoraiston - I haven't forgotten about the music. I'm just checking the setting of Psalm 95 so that I don't give you duff info. I'll be back... as someone once said.

  • Comment number 26.

    I managed to read the novel for the first time before the broadcast. Brilliant finish I thought! Dickens won't be rolling in his grave over that one, I don't think! Will you be dramatising 'A Tale of Two Cities' later this year?

  • Comment number 27.

    I understand the comments about the ending, but being creative often means being brave. Thank you BBC (and Diarmuid!) for being brave and for a very high quality show. Matthew Rhys was outstanding.

  • Comment number 28.

    Can anyone tell me what the choral music sung by the choir in church was in the first episode? I love this adaptation - very dark.

  • Comment number 29.

    Congratulations to all involved - photography, script, cast, direction, music - simply an outstanding production. A very dark and ghostly novel - almost as though Dickens knew his health was failing him.

  • Comment number 30.

    Okay, as promised - the choral music is:
    Nunc Dimittis from the Second Service by Byrd, and the subsequent piece is a setting of Psalm 95 chosen and sung beautifully by the London Oratory School Schola, to whom I renew my thanks. Unfortunately I'm still not sure whose setting they chose, but will post it when I do.

  • Comment number 31.

    Many thanks

    Trevor

  • Comment number 32.

    Could diarmuid please let us know the title of the opening music - the solo rather than the choral music that comes in later? Many thanks. Jim

  • Comment number 33.

    Many thanks Diarmuid.

  • Comment number 34.

    Sorry Jim, but the opening music has no title. It was composed by John Lunn (the score composer) to words in Latin covering Jasper's opium fantasy that Edwin could die gently like a falling leaf! As Princess Puffer says in Ep 2, 'things never turn out how we hope, do they?'

  • Comment number 35.

    Congratulations on the absolutely brilliant casting, costumes, makeup and special effects creating a fantastic atmosphere. Wonderfully acted and thoroughly gripping, look forward to watching it again. What a great shame the bbc insist on shrinking the credits so that all concerned do not get the mention they deserve.

  • Comment number 36.

    Fantastic drama - I loved the ending that was chosen picking up where Dickens left it. The cast were great, I loved the mood of the drama and the BBC were great to take such a risk and create this dark drama. Would love to get hold of a copy and I hope it will be available on DVD soon. Keep up the good work and can't wait to see what other great dramas, period and modern, that we get to watch this year. Since we have had Great Expectations and Edwin Drood do you know if there are any other classic Dickens adaptations in the works?

  • Comment number 37.

    I'm sorry Becky I don't think any more are planned at the moment. This little rush of Dickens was to celebrate his two hundredth birthday, and you have probably noticed that the beeb tends to get spanked for too much Dickens, or anything else, pretty quickly. However, there are plenty of writers, Gwyn amongst them, who have their favourites close to their hearts and no doubt they will appear in time.

  • Comment number 38.

    When will Sundial apologise for prejudging the outcome?

  • Comment number 39.

    Really enjoyed this adaptation and liked the ending. I know Rochester quite well so it was interesting trying to spot the locations. We even performed a play based on a story by a contemporary of Dickens in Eastgate House last year. Great drama for a winter evening, thanks.

  • Comment number 40.

    Just brilliant, loved the way you finished it in true Dickens style, winding-together lots of supposedly loose ends. Wonderful casting, delightful performances from all, and the 'minor' characters had me grinning with delight (especially Deputy and Bazzard). Alun Armstrong was superb once again in a particularly human portrayal of a particularly good man. Bravo to all, and many thanks for some great viewing.

  • Comment number 41.

    Diarmuid - many thanks for the information. I would like to add my congratulations to you for one of the best-ever Dickens adaptations. The elegant plot twists were a perfect rounding-off to a very skilful presentation. Jim

  • Comment number 42.

    Addiction, Prejudice, Love, Hate, Compassion, Tolerance, Forgiveness and a Mystery what more could you want? Gwyneth Hughes has given this unfinished story the best ending that anyone could have come up with and the adaptation was superb. The Cast was the finest that I have come across within a Dickens dramatization and Alfie Davis, as Deputy, is one actor to look out for in the future, everyone should be most proud of what they have put the names and talent to. Fine Direction and Locations set this BBC production above the rest.
    Particularly after the masacre of the recent "Great ? Expectations"!

  • Comment number 43.

    I enjoyed this dramatization immensely. I thought that the cast was particularly strong. But most of all I was really impressed by the main protagonist played by Mathew Rhys who I have not previously seen. It is unusual to see such an outstanding performance on television these days. His portrayal of the character was memorable.

  • Comment number 44.

    I too enjoyed it very much, though I don't quite buy the interpretation of Drood senior; it doesn't seem to fit with the character of the sentimental young widower who made a pact with another widower that their respective (only) children should marry.
    Also, why ignore the finding of Edwin's watch and shirt-pin by Mr. Crisparkle? Jasper knew that they were the only items of jewellery that Edwin wore, but didn't know that he had the ring in his pocket at the time of his disappearance. Surely this must be a pointer to the intended resolution?

  • Comment number 45.

    Excellent Dickens character portrayal throughout and a very clever interpretation of how Dickens mind would have constructed the complicated ending.
    All actors to be congratulated in their roles and 'Deputy' will hopefully be seen again in the future. Rory Kinnear was a joy to watch (with a reminder of the gentle soul of his father who sadly had his career tragically prematurely cut short from our future enjoyment whilst filming on location)

  • Comment number 46.

    I really enjoyed this - who knows what Dickens intended to happen, but the twists and characterisation felt very Dickensian to me. I really enjoyed seeing something a bit different, especially as some of his work is the subject of so many films and TV adaptations

  • Comment number 47.

    RE: "Sorry Jim, but the opening music has no title, ..." But is it available to buy/download.

    Example of how to supply info on a shows music check out CH4's This Is England (anyof them) websites/pages. Always have a list of music titles and performers for each episode so @ least we can source them should we want to.

    Trevor

  • Comment number 48.

    I was enthrawled with the Mystery of Edwin Drood. Only BB2 can do this so well. Had me captivated. Amazing actors. Just a brilliant story. Thank you BBC.

  • Comment number 49.

    I caught up, on iPlayer, with The Mystery of Edwin Drood and would like to add my praise for this beguiling production - vastly superior to Great Expectations.

    Excellent performances all round, though I was particularly taken with David Dawson's Bazzard and Alfie Davis's Deputy.

    Well done!

  • Comment number 50.

    I loved this production. I thought it was pretty perfect in every way and far superior to Great Expectations. The acting was brilliant throughout (Alfie Davis!) particularly Matthew Rhys who was so charming, scary and pitiful - fully rounded and complex. The whole piece was taut and felt supple and very real, if this makes sense. I also loved the comic moments too and the delicate beauty of the Septimus/Helena love story. What I liked almost as much as the story and characters was the sense of place (I don't like all the filming that is taking place in Budapest or wherever - it ruins UK-based stories for me).

    What I don't understand is why it's not coming out on DVD - well, it's not being advertised yet - I'm so disappointed.

    Thank you Diarmuid Lawrence and Gwyneth Hughes for such a fantastic adaptation

  • Comment number 51.

    i enjoyed it greatly. had to watch it twice though to understand each plot/casting.
    excellent and a masterpiece! to me was time well spent....
    kudos to all involved!!

  • Comment number 52.

    I watched again. Really taken by it.

    Now that Sherlock has ended its run, a Victorian detective programme is just what's needed, so perhaps the BBC should consider Bazzard PI, with the Deputy as his sidekick?

  • Comment number 53.

    Just watched it all again,

    I really enjoyed this! Are there any plans for the DVD release as I notice Great Expectations is planned but not this! Probably the best drama I have seen on the BBC for a while!

  • Comment number 54.

    Thank you all once again for your enthusiastic responses to Edwin Drood. The feedback is thoroughly helpful to myself and to the BBC, who listen more attentively than you might think. As to the lack of DVD release - I really don't know the answer. I'm guessing that the title on its own was not considered commercial enough, considering how little it's known compared to Great Expectations. Who knows, perhaps with so positive a response that view might change. I will certainly ask the question.

  • Comment number 55.

    Thanks Diarmuid, for your helpful replies, but I'm so disappointed that this wonderful adaptation won't be coming out on DVD.

    Have watched it 4 times now, and cannot praise it highly enough. Fantastic atmosphere, great casting and acting throughout, but most of all, a wonderful screenplay by Gwyneth Hughes and central performance by Matthew Rhys.

    Just want to echo the earlier comments of mollag- Gwyneth and Matthew together made the character of Jasper come alive as a fully rounded human being, rather than a cartoon villain. Weak, lustful and murderous as he was, you could not but be on his side as he struggled with his inner demons, and mourn the better man he could have been.

    Must go, just time to watch it one last time on catch-up TV, before it disappears forever.....

  • Comment number 56.

    Bit late to the game but the fact that I am still thinking about your wonderful production brought me to find this a week later. So, so adored it. The casting was perfection. Matthew Rhys incredible, Rory Kinnear, David Dawson, Ron Cook ... and that little firecracker of a performance from Alfie Davis.

    Both the exteriors at Rochester and the interiors in St Barts set the perfect tone and I'd like to add my praise for the choral music (wish there'd been more of it) and Matthew Rhys' impressive efforts to look pretty convincing when directing (not often the case for actors playing directors/conductors). And loved the looks/smiles on the choristers' faces when he was berating them for roaring like lions (or words to that effect) - it really helped established the ambiguity of his character, as Jasper is clearly a respected and talented musician despite ... the rest.

    Now utterly gutted to hear this may not come out on DVD! I was looking forward to sauntering into HMV and picking it up in the next day or so. ARGH! Please get the powers that be to issue it.

    Just one more thing ... I have to confess rather sheepishly that for all his opium-induced nephewcidal (is that a word?)/patricidal tendencies, the dark mysterious John Jasper (thanks to Matthew Rhys) has a new fan in me. Oh yes.

    Congratulations on a superb production.

  • Comment number 57.

    It is a shame if it is not released on DVD. I agree with everyone Matthew Rhys was brilliant and the writing was great! (not to mention the director of course...). I actually prefer the less commercial or well known titles as they are something new to watch or read, as the famous titles like Great Expectations when dramatised can feel a bit repetitive when you seen about 3 versions of it... you feel you know the story all to well.

  • Comment number 58.

    Please add my voice (and those of my thousands of minions, if it'll help) to those pleading for a DVD release.

    This was one of the best Dickens adaptations I've ever seen, brilliantly atmospheric and gripping, with a flawless cast. Matthew Rhys was the standout for me (agree with the person upthread who compared him to Richard Burton) but also the lovely Crisparkles, the Landlesses and David Dawson as Bazzard were exceptional, I felt.

    Add in some beautiful music and a mystery, and who could ask for more?

    The BBC could count on a few quid from my purse the day they released this.

  • Comment number 59.

    I would like to add my voice to those clamouring for this to be available on DVD. I thought this adaptation was actually much better than Great Expectations. I haven't read the book (yet), but I liked the surprise ending. And some of the actors in the smaller parts were brilliant (I'm thinking particularly of Deputy and Mr Bazzard/Dick Datchery). Well done!

  • Comment number 60.

    Some good news. Apparently the production is now available as a download on iTunes for the princely sum of £1.89 per ep. Not the same as a DVD I grant you, but perhaps we are looking at the future. For those interested the link is;
    http://itunes.apple.com/gb/tv-season/the-mystery-of-edwin-drood/id493972964
    All the best.

  • Comment number 61.

    Thanks, Diarmuid, for that fantastic news. Not a DVD, no, but rather wonderful nonetheless. I've downloaded already and am now thoroughly ashamed that I'd mistaken Bengal tigers for lions. How could I? Apologies!

    Thank you again for a wonderful script, casting, acting, production and the fabulous directing.

  • Comment number 62.

    Thank you for replying Diarmuid. I really hope the BBC are paying attention to the great critical reviews, and the public responses to Edwin Drood on various forums and blogs.

    As for the DVD release, I emailed - dvdenquiryline@2entertain.co.uk - to enquire and got this response -

    "Thank you for your recent communication regarding the availability of
    the above programme on DVD.

    We do own the DVD rights for this title, but as yet have no scheduled
    release date. I suggest checking the BBC Shop in 3-6 months time.

    We appreciate all of the feedback that we receive from the viewing
    public, so thank you again for your correspondence.

    Please note there is a limited range of titles previously transmitted on
    www.bbc.co.uk/archive"

    Perhaps if more of us enquired they might reconsider and release the DVD...soon!

  • Comment number 63.

    On the whole I enjoyed The Mystery of Edwin Drood, but did feel, at times, it was slightly rushed. It appeared too quick between Jack being devastated about killing Edwin Drood junior before his unrelenting pursuit of Rosa. I also thought it wasn't clear about how long Edwin Drood senior had been dead for (although I may have simply missed this explanation). I think it's worth adding that I haven't read the book, which may explain why the story wasn't entirely clear to me.

  • Comment number 64.

    I the smallest of ways - the merest of niggles - I agree with you Mike. I think in quite a lot of recent BBC productions there isn't strong enough sense of time passing, to make it clear to the audience whether it's months or weeks that have gone by.

    I just adore this production so much but I have to admit I have no idea how many days past from the beginning to the end.

  • Comment number 65.

    Mike Wigham and mollag you both make very valid points. Indeed, in the novel there is a substantial passage of time, in that the disappearance happens at Christmas and the sundial garden scene at the height of summer when the school has broken up. There is a logic to our decision however. It is generally understood that men in the grip of a stalking, sexual obsession do not sit back for six months waiting for the weather to improve. It seems to pass muster in the novel, but on screen you simply wonder what Jasper's been doing all the while and scenes of him moping at home or hanging about outside Rosa's bolt-holes pack very little drama. Dickens was inventing the thriller genre (along with Wilkie Collins) and perhaps wasn't used yet to the narrative drive needed to carry it off; nothing he previously wrote presented the same problem. It would have been interesting to see where he went next had he lived! I hope that at least explains our thinking.

  • Comment number 66.

    Thanks for the prompt reply, Diarmuid. I appreciate the problem you had in attempting to fill a gap of six months in such a short space of time, and your comprehensive answer has certainly explained why you thought it best to film it the way you did. It was, honestly, a very small issue in an adaptation I thoroughly enjoyed.

  • Comment number 67.

    Thank you for the explanation Diarmuid. I do see what you mean but I'm going to have to defend Dickens here *smile*. As a viewer I wouldn't have found it in the least bit odd to have seen Jasper being obsessed with Rosa for six months - or at least a change of season. Surely Jasper would have been partially occupied with his other addiction, and wouldn't the restrictions and propriety of Victorian society have prevented a lot of opportunities for contact (or stalking) and so prolonged the obsession anyway?

    I don't feel that showing a longer passage of time would have damaged Jasper's story arc at all but it would have helped Eddy's a great deal and not made it seem as if his journey to and from Egypt was made by airplane. *laugh* That was exactly my only quibble about the whole production.

    Oh, I do have another quibble, it was much too short and I didn't want it to end.

  • Comment number 68.

    Hi everyone, I think we've pretty much talked Edwin Drood out now, so I'm going to sign off, but thank you so much for the conversation - it's been great fun and I hope to do it again on a show in the future. Enjoy your viewing.

 

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