Mrs Dickens' Family Christmas

Friday 30 December

9.00pm-10.00pm

BBC TWO

Looking at the marriage of Charles Dickens through the eyes of his wife, Catherine, Sue Perkins exposes the lesser-known reality of the Dickens family Christmas - very different from the heart-warming versions he pedalled in A Christmas Carol.

In this 60-minute film for BBC Two, Sue turns her attention to the woman behind the man, revealing parallels between the female characters he created and changing in his affections for his wife, namely, in Dickens’s mind, her transition from innocent virgin to middle-aged frump.

Scrutinising Dickens’s public defence in a national newspaper of his treatment of Catherine, Sue seeks to set the record straight, revealing her unconditional love to Dickens and support for his career.

Along the way, she has plenty of laughs, evokes the realities of Victorian marriage, interviews many of today's leading biographers of Mr and Mrs Dickens, explores Charles’s role in creating Christmas as we know it - and gets to follow Catherine’s recipe to make a Twelfth Night cake.

JB