Great Expectations: Falling in love with Miss Havisham

Tuesday 27 December 2011, 10:00

Gillian Anderson Gillian Anderson Actress

Tagged with:

I wanted to play Miss Havisham because she's an iconic character who pervades our world in various forms. So many people have written about her or based other characters on her over many decades.

I was interested in what it was that was so appealing about her, what it is that seems to get under people's skin.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash Installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash Installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content

Miss Havisham interrogates Pip

I am sure it also matters when somebody read the book and what their situation was at that particular time.

A lot of people I know who said Great Expectations is their favourite book are men.

Did they read it when they were pre-pubescent and feeling lost and misunderstood? Pip is feeling the awe of the wider world, the world beyond, and how Miss Havisham draws him into that, and opens his eyes and his heart, ultimately to crush it.

I can imagine being a young man, and reading Pip's journey, falling in love in a mysterious way in this magical house where you have come from the hardship of working in a forge and having lost all of your brothers and sisters save one.

And here's hope, here is a door to the rest of the world - and then having that shut and then reopened.

I can imagine that journey as a young kid, especially a young boy, must be unbelievably exciting.

It was the journey pre-Harry Potter. Of course it was longer ago, but I can imagine young people having the same kind of magical response to Great Expectations that we did when Harry Potter books first started to come out.

That's if it does get introduced at an early age, in school or through a parent or whatever and the child is able to crack the density of it.

This wasn't my experience of it. My experience of it was dipping into it here and there and probably reading most of it in my late 20s.

I can only imagine the magic of it and the immersion in that world at a younger age.

Gillian Anderson plays Miss Havisham in Great Expectations.

Great Expectations starts on BBC One and BBC One HD on Tuesday, 27 December at 9pm.

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

Watch Gillian (in costume) talking further about the Great Expectations script and set.

Read an article by Mike Osborn on the 'youthful' air of Gillian Anderson's Miss Havisham.

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

Tagged with:

Comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 81.

    The Jewson's bridge was a masterly bit of casting, just the right balance of value for money and comic woodenness. I just lapped up its performance - more and yet more I say!
    Seriously, it was all good. Miss Haversham's death was a beautiful portrayal of delayed consummation.
    Just have to read the book now.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 82.

    I know it is only a telly programmed but I so wanted to like and enjoy this adaptation. Tried to stay positive after episode one but I coudn't after the second. People get paid money for such things in these Hard Times it beggars belief

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 83.

    Great Expectations is one of my favourite books and perhaps my favourite story. In three hours inevitably there would be ommissions so I watched this adaptation on its own terms and I loved it.

    It really nailed the dark heart of the story centred around Miss Havisham.

    The cast were superb. Oscar Kennedy as young Pip was wonderful. Ray Winstone perfectly cast as Magwitch - the wordless pie moment was sublime.
    Gillian Anderson's interpretation of Miss Havisham was fascinating. She gave real depth to her twisted psyche, even making her a sympathetic character. Her final scene when her despair, remorse, and defeat so overwhelm her that she just stands and lets herself burn was heartbreaking.

    And Gillian and Izzy Meikle-Small together were emotional cruelty personified. Izzy's scene humiliating young Pip was so painful to watch - for all the right reasons.

    Vanessa Kirby brought out Estella's complexity. The true Estella Miss Havisham had done her best to extinguishf was always visible beneath the surface, sometimes very deep but it was always visible. And how anyone can dismiss someone as lovely as Vanessa Kirby as 'a plain Jane' is beyond me.

    Where some characters and their personal relationships were only sketched in the writing was tight enough to tell us what we needed to know. The close bond between Pip and Joe was made abundantly clear with just a few lines and some shared looks. We saw and heard enough of Wemmick to know there were two of him.

    As for the bridge, didn't the Victorians build bridges and weren't they sometimes new?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 84.

    This was quite the worst adaptation of Great Expectations that I have seen. It showed a complete disregard for the story, characters and Dickens' themes. Indeed the adapter showed great arrogance in rewriting the end and so destroying the meaning of the novel. When Miss Havisham catches fire (excellent visual effect) Satis House (that symbol of hate and heartlessness) is burnt down. Pip meets Estella there, when she has lost all her money and has sold this her only remaining property. Dickens hints that they may build a new life together out of the ruins of the selfish past forced on them by Miss Havisham.. In this travesty of the novel Estella is allowed to keep two fortunes, and presumably Pip will live with her and off her! The adapter should try to write her own play instead of riding on the back of genius and dishonouring one the greatest novels of the nineteenth century in English.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 85.

    I've been quite surprised reading people's criticisms about this adaptation. I, and most of the people I know who have watched it, really enjoyed it. I've not read the book so I guess the purists have a point if this has veered off Dicken's original somewhat. But, at the end of the day, it's an adaptation which I found moving, beautifully filmed and acted.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 86.

    With todays rubbish of realitly and soaps this was bonus for Xmas, yes a tv adaption at its best, one has read the book when young and reads again when at college and sometimes when an adult will read again this story never tires and the bbc never fails to refresh the minds of those who have read Dickens novels. Gillian played Miss Haversham with conviction a brave move for the bbc to keep with todays modern viewer, will be waiting for the next adaption of a Dickens novel as for some of the bad comments here these are the same people who say that London cant put on a good show to the world for this years Olympics watch this space!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 87.

    I am one of those who say this was a bad adaptation. Whether London can put on a good show for the Olympics has nothing to do with my opinion of the TV adaptation. I expect they will put on a good show; we usually do that sort of thing very well.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 88.

    I do believe this adaptation of Great Expectations was absolutely appalling. The writing for this series was awful. It was basically Dickens' work wittled down to scenes of climax in the novel. The small details that Dickens used to create the bigger picture were wiped out to make an American style vision of Great Expectations. Gillian Anderson was fantastic in Bleak House, but she destroyed everything characteristic of Miss Havisham in this series. I do not think she is to blame, but we should blame the BBC. Since they got a foothold on American soil (BBC America), television quality has declined, by which the BBC has aimed to appeal more to Americans than English viewers in order to make larger amounts of money. That is why Gillian Anderson is playing Miss Havisham based on a poorly written script from a broadcasting company with lack of vision. It has provided British audiences with a vile adaptation of a fantastic novel by a great author who is probably rolling over in his grave right now, seeing how the BBC is turning quality work into a knock off Hollywoodesque series where the actors are chosen based on looks and world popularity (Douglas Booth, Gillian Anderson, Ray Winstone) and appealing more to American style values whilst ignoring Dickens' complex and moral English views.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 89.

    the whole production was fantastic, the actors, sceanery, script, really enjoyed it and will now be reading the book, weel done, more Dickens please

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 90.

    Is Pip lodging in the same building that was used in Little Dorrit? I'm sure it looks the same.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 91.

    I thought the adaptation had it's strong points - Magwitch being one of them, but I found watching Gillian Anderson as Miss Haversham painful. She was like Bette Davis in 'Whatever happened to Baby Jane" channelling Johnny Depp in 'Edward Scissorhands'. Disappointing.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 92.

    This was such an amazing adaptation, brilliantly casted and scripted, I completely applaud the writer and the BBC. I cannot believe the dismissive, rude, small-minded, snobbish comments that some posters have made. If I was the script writer or any of the people involved in the production of Great Expectations, I would feel utterly depressed after reading those posts when in fact they should be congratulated. Perhaps those miserable reviewers should get together and make their own adaptation of Great Expectations and then we can all have a good laugh.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 93.

    We enjoyed the adaptation despite the anomalies and odd changes. Is the marsh church setting St Thomas a Beckett at Fairfield?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 94.

    Dear oh dear. What an incredible production, directions, sets amazing and costume work truly wonderful. However, the casting director has made an enourmous mistake casting a 43year old actress with such previous? She resembled a fawning ghost, ridiculously ham acting, pathetic physical interpretation of an aged beauty, she lacked no mystique or held any inner layers for the viewer to be remotely curious about. My big beef is that my daughters found this wonderful, but miss a great many points by the misinterpretation and 'LA' acting style of Miss H. Should have been cast as an unknown who can actually act or Helen Mirren. A generation of kids won't get it. Pip however was miraculous.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 95.

    What a brilliant production that had my wife and I rapt. I thought Gillian Anderson's performance was definitive and the licence taken with the text deftly judged. Pip was a bit watery but I suppose that conveyed his certain degree of ingenuousness. Bravo BBC!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 96.

    This was one of the worst productions of Great Expectations ever. All the key characters are mere shadows from the book and almost unrecognisable except by their name. The BBC, Phelps and all the fine actors involved should take a long hard look at themselves and wonder how they managed to get is so very wrong.

    I don't think Dickens is spinning in his grave at this feeble effort rather he would be laughing to himself that was the 'best effort' that modern writers and production could manage.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 97.

    Was really looking forward to this and i really enjoyed it,even though there were things missed out.I wish it had been longer,like Bleak House,which i thought was so well done.
    All the actors performed well in my opinion.Older Pip was rather beautiful,but i will not be rude about the actress who played Estella,unlike some,but she just was not striking enough to play opposite him.Missing Biddy was a bad idea too.
    Douglas Booth what a face though!!Beautiful.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 98.

    Ok, I concede the drastically rewritten ending with Estella not having been ruined but being in possession of, not one, but two fortunes did jar a bit. It did let a suggestion of opportunism in Pip's going back to Satis House mar the purity of his undying love for Estella. And it let Miss Havisham off the hook.

    I confess though that I was quite pleased when Drummel's horse kicked his head in. Perhaps Sarah Phelps loathes him as much as I do. But he could have suffered death by horse after he'd ruined himself and Estella and still have left the essence of the ending intact.

    Joe fetching up at Pip's club, I liked.
    Though it's a great piece of Dickens comedy I've never really liked the way in the book that Joe is made to look a fool when he sees Pip in London. Pip can be shown to be acting like an ungrateful jerk without the need for Joe to look silly. In her interpretaion Sarah Phelps was clearly referencing that scene from the book - Joe just chucking his hat on the table; he hadn't forgotten who he was just because he was in London, even if Pip had.

    To the people who loathed this adaptation of, yes, one of the best novels in English, I offer this observation. Several of the people who enjoyed this production but who hadn't read the book have said they are now going to read the book. Now that can't be a bad thing can it?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 99.

    I loved this it was almost majical exalant casting . i thourt gillian anderson was amasing. she even looked hot as miss haveshum. iv hever read the book but now im intrested in dickings work great job bbc.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 100.

    I really enjoyed this adaptation. The cinematography was stunning, and I thought the production really caught the spirit of Dickens' work.

    Unlike a lot of people I thought the casting was very well done. Oscar Kennedy was brilliant as the younger Pip. Yes, Douglas Booth is rather 'pretty' but I think it is silly to think that someone from a poor background could not have been blessed with good looks. Also, the producers commented that they picked Booth for his sensitivity and vulnerability, which I think really come through in his performance. Gillian Anderson is exactly who I would have picked to play Miss Havisham, having admired her performance in Bleak House. Also I thought Estella was very well cast, as although she might not be your typical beauty she possess the distant and ethereal quality Estella requires emphasised by those staring blue eyes.

    Sacrifices will always have to be made when adapting a novel for television, however, I do not feel that any of deviations from Dickens' work were unwarranted, or even that radical anyway. The main difference is the ending. I did at first wonder whether it was right to change this, however, this is not the first production to have done so, and I can understand why Sarah Phelps felt it was necessary.
    Overall another brilliant period drama, bravo BBC!

 

Page 5 of 6

This entry is now closed for comments

Share this page

More Posts

Previous
Ab Fab: A minute with June Whitfield and Joanna Lumley

Friday 23 December 2011, 09:29

Next
The Mystery Of Edwin Drood: I'm the director

Monday 9 January 2012, 10:29

About this Blog

Get the views of cast, presenters, scriptwriters and crew from inside the shows. Read reviews and opinions and share yours on all things TV - your favourite episodes, live programmes, the schedule and everything else.

We ask that comments on the blog fall within the house rules.

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?