Category: TV Drama
Gillian Anderson, Denis Lawson, Charles Dance, Alistair McGowan, Pauline Collins and Johnny Vegas lead a star cast in a ground-breaking adaptation of Dickens' Bleak House for BBC ONE, written by Andrew Davies and produced by Nigel Stafford-Clark.
Bleak House is one of Dickens' most celebrated achievements - generally regarded as the greatest-ever depiction of Victorian London in fiction.
It is a skilfully crafted thriller and passionate indictment of the legal system which is as searingly relevant today as it was in the mid 19th century.
The adaptation comprises 16 half-hour episodes, shot on high definition, to be shown twice a week, using the pace, multiple storylines and cliff-hanger endings more usually associated with popular drama.
Bleak House is the third collaboration between Andrew Davies and producer Nigel Stafford-Clark, following The Way We Live Now and He Knew He Was Right.
Stafford-Clark says: "The BBC was keen to explore fresh approaches to classic adaptation.
"Dickens wrote Bleak House as a monthly serial for popular consumption, complete with multiple storylines and cliff-hanger endings for each part.
"A twice-weekly half-hour television serial felt like returning it to its natural state."
Andrew Davies says: "The novel lends itself perfectly to this new approach because there are so many characters, so much life and numerous overlapping plots.
"It will give us a much fuller rendering of the book than we are normally able to achieve with a classic adaptation.
"It's an adaptation that hasn't been done before in this way - half-hour episodes shown twice a week - rather than the more usual classic drama slot on Sunday nights.
"The heart of the story is a group of young people starting out in life, discovering themselves and what life holds for them, and I've tried to make the adaptation lively and accessible for viewers of all ages."
Laura Mackie, BBC Head of Drama Series and Serials, adds: "Drama on BBC ONE offers a wide range of ambitious, bold and unique drama - everything from long-running series, through to contemporary and classic serials to single films.
"Our over-arching ambition is continually to surprise our audiences by offering them something they will not find anywhere else."
Gillian Anderson plays the aloof yet beautiful Lady Dedlock, who hides a dark secret, and Charles Dance is the merciless lawyer Tulkinghorn who seeks to uncover it.
Denis Lawson is the generous John Jarndyce, who is struggling with his past.
Rising stars Patrick Kennedy and Carey Mulligan play the Jarndyce wards Richard and Ada.
Anna Maxwell Martin plays the central character, orphan Esther Summerson, companion to Ada and whose connection to Lady Dedlock may bring ruin to both herself and Jarndyce.
Johnny Vegas plays Krook, the drunken, sly shop owner/landlord who dies of spontaneous combustion; Alistair McGowan plays Jarndyce's lawyer Kenge; Timothy West is Sir Leicester Dedlock and Alun Armstrong is the ice-cool police inspector Bucket.
Hugo Speer, Liza Tarbuck, Charlie Brooks, Matthew Kelly, Richard Harrington, Nathaniel Parker, Warren Clarke, Anne Reid, Richard Griffiths and Phil Davis also star.
Filming on location in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Kent will commence in early February 2005 and run through until July.
It is a BBC Production in association with Deep Indigo, produced by Nigel Stafford-Clark.
The directors are Justin Chadwick (EastEnders and Spooks) and Susanna White (Teachers and Mr Harvey Lights A Candle).
The executive producers are Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes.