Little Dorrit – a Dickensian drama for BBC One
BBC Drama Productions today announces the commission of a large-scale, ambitious adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic Little Dorrit, written by acclaimed writer Andrew Davies (Sense And Sensibility, Bleak House) for BBC One.
Following in the triumphant footsteps of Cranford and Sense And Sensibility, Little Dorrit tells the story of the Dorrit family and the rich array of characters they encounter on their way from rags to riches and back again.
Our story starts with the birth of a baby in the Marshalsea debtor's prison. This is Amy Dorrit, child of the Marshalsea, daughter of William Dorrit, who is still in prison when we rejoin the story 20 years on.
Into their lives comes the dashing and adventurous Arthur Clennam, returning to London after many long years in China and desperate to carry out the task set by his father on his death bed: "Put it right Arthur. Your mother. Put it right."
When he sees 20-year-old Amy working for his formidable mother Mrs Clennam, a woman not ordinarily given to charity, he begins to scent a connection.
Thus begins a journey from powerless to powerful, as the Dorrits' fortunes rise and fall along with those of a cross-section of London society.
Landlords and rent collectors, plasterers, bankers, turnkeys, prisoners, gentlemen and paupers, wastrels and dancing girls, engineers, artists, dowagers and butlers, and a charismatic French villain – all trip in and out of the story as Arthur and Amy walk the rocky road to love.
Matthew Macfadyen (Spooks) is confirmed to play Arthur Clennam, with full casting to be announced at a later date.
Like many other well-loved Dickens novels, Little Dorrit was published serially over 19 instalments, and this 15-part series (1x60 and 14x30) will mirror that approach, with a scheduling pattern similar to that of Bleak House.
Filming will begin in April 2008 in the UK. Anne Pivcevic (Sense And Sensibility) will executive produce the serialisation, along with Lisa Osborne as producer, and Dearbhla Walsh (The Tudors) and Adam Smith (Skins) directing.
Dickens novels are rich with bold and memorable characters and Little Dorrit is no exception. Full casting is to be announced at a later date.
Kate Harwood, Head of Series and Serials, said: "Following on from the success of Bleak House and Oliver Twist, BBC Drama Production is thrilled to be bringing Little Dorrit, Dickens' great tale of imprisonment and yearning to the screen. We hope that Andrew Davies' superb serialisation will grip the nation fast with its story of mystery, betrayal and intrigue."
Jane Tranter, Controller, BBC Fiction, said: "Dickens is one of Britain's greatest ever storytellers, and Andrew Davies is the undisputed king of adaptation, so it is hugely exciting to be working with them both again.
"And we are all delighted to be welcoming Matthew Macfadyen back to BBC One, he will bring charisma, charm, intelligence and talent to our hero Arthur Clennam.
"Making classic adaptations both accessible and relevant to a broad modern audience is one of the great privileges of working with BBC Drama Productions, and we anticipate that Little Dorrit will bring 19th century Victorian London to life with all the verve and impact of our very best drama."
Little Dorrit was commissioned by Jane Tranter.
Little Dorrit joins a burgeoning BBC One autumn drama schedule including BBC Drama Productions' Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, and Apparitions starring Martin Shaw. Further commissioning announcements will follow next week.
BBC Drama Productions are world leaders in classic, period adaptation and Little Dorrit will follow critically-acclaimed classics such as Cranford, Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist, Andrew Davies' adaptations of Sense And Sensibility, Bleak House and Fanny Hill, and the current highly acclaimed and popular BBC One drama serial Lark Rise To Candleford.