Entertainment & Arts

BBC announces Christmas Dickens drama

Ioan Gruffudd, Charlotte Rampling and Justine Waddell in the BBC's 1999 version of Great Expectations
Great Expectations was last dramatised by the BBC in 1999

A "bold" new version of Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations will be screened on BBC One at Christmas.

Sarah Phelps, who adapted Oliver Twist for the channel in 2007, will write the three-part series.

Previous BBC versions of Dickens' novel - one of the author's best-known works - were broadcast in 1959, 1967, 1981 and 1999.

The most recent starred Ioan Gruffudd as Pip and Charlotte Rampling as Miss Havisham.

A BBC spokeswoman said the new version would "give us the heart and guts of Dickens at his very best".

It is one of five new dramas newly appointed BBC One controller Danny Cohen has commissioned for 2011.

Jennifer Worth's best-selling memoir Call the Midwife is being adapted by Heidi Thomas, the writer of Cranford and the BBC's recent Upstairs, Downstairs remake.

Bound is a six-episode series about a group of women with husbands in prison, while Morton follows the exploits of a female spy.

Four-part drama One Night will tell the story of a different character each week.

Cohen said he hoped the commissions would "begin to express the range and creative ambition" of the channel's drama output.

The former head of digital channel BBC Three was named BBC One controller in October.

Next year marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens' birth.

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