Little Dorrit: cast announced for major BBC One Dickens adaptation
Additional casting – posted on 28 August 2008:
Judy Parfitt (Funland, Girl With A Pearl Earring) plays Arthur's mother, the icy Mrs Clennam who is harbouring a dark secret; Pam Ferris (Rosemary & Thyme, Jane Eyre) plays the well-bred Mrs General, employed to educate the Dorrit girls in matters of society and etiquette; and Eve Myles (Torchwood, Doctor Who) plays Maggy, the best friend of Amy Dorrit, who caught a fever when she was ten years old and "has never grown any older ever since".
BBC Drama Production today announces the key cast for Little Dorrit, Andrew Davies' major adaptation of Dickens' novel to be broadcast on BBC One this autumn.
Recent newcomer Claire Foy (Being Human) will star as Amy Dorrit, also known as Little Dorrit, the kind sweet girl at the centre of the story.
Tom Courtenay (Billy Liar, Doctor Zhivago, Nicholas Nickleby, The Golden Compass) plays her father Mr Dorrit, a long-standing inmate of the Marshalsea debtor's prison, whose fortunes turn when he least expects them to; James Fleet (The Vicar Of Dibley, Four Weddings And A Funeral) is Amy's jovial uncle Frederick Dorrit, and Emma Pierson (Hotel Babylon) is her flighty elder sister Fanny.
The Dorrit family are joined by a host of colourful characters who they encounter on their way from rags to riches in Dickensian society.
Amanda Redman (At Home With The Braithwaites, New Tricks) occupies the topmost branch in the social tree as Mrs Merdle, glittering wife of "the greatest man in London"; Andy Serkis (Lord Of The Rings, King Kong) plays the dastardly French villain Rigaud; Ruth Jones (Gavin And Stacey) is the overwhelming Flora Casby, who dreams of a reunion with childhood sweetheart Arthur Clennam.
Bill Paterson (Sea Of Souls) and Janine Duvitski (The Worst Week Of My Life, One Foot In The Grave) are the practical Mr and Mrs Meagles; Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who, Torchwood) is Tattycoram, the foundling companion of the Meagles' daughter Pet, and Maxine Peake (Shameless, Hancock And Joan) plays the mysterious Miss Wade whom the Meagleses meet in Marseilles.
Also confirmed is Eddie Marsan (Vera Drake) as energetic debt collector Pancks; Annette Crosbie (Viva Blackpool, One Foot In The Grave) as the continually grouchy Mr F's Aunt and Alun Armstrong (New Tricks, Bleak House) as the unnerving Jeremiah Flintwinch and his twin brother Ephraim.
Robert Hardy (Harry Potter films) is the bureaucratic Tite Barnacle, Principal of the byzantine Circumlocution Office, with Mackenzie Crook (Pirates Of The Caribbean, The Office) as office raconteur Harris, who constantly entertains with his shaggy dog stories
They join Matthew Macfadyen (Spooks, Pride And Prejudice), previously announced as Arthur Clennam whose return from overseas changes the Dorrits' lives irrevocably.
Little Dorrit tells the story of the Dorrit family and the rich array of characters they meet on their way from rags to riches and back again.
Amy Dorrit, her lively sister Fanny and exuberant brother Tip have been born and raised in the Marshalsea debtors' prison, where their father William Dorrit rules the roost amongst inmates and family.
When the benevolent Arthur Clennam returns from overseas he is determined to solve the mystery of his father's dying words, "Put it right Arthur. Your mother. Put it right."
Convinced they have something to do with the Dorrit family Arthur befriends Amy, developing a special bond with the girl he calls Little Dorrit.
An investigation instigated by Arthur uncovers a secret family wealth – freeing Mr Dorrit from prison, and thrusting him and his brood into the upper echelons of Dickensian society.
Their new wealth and status come with both humorous and tragic consequences as they ingratiate themselves with the colourful great and good.
All the while a dark villain threatens to spill some shocking family secrets, and romance simmers.
The 15-part drama series began filming last week (commencing 28 April 2008) and will film throughout the summer in locations in and around London, Buckinghamshire and Kent.
Adapted by acclaimed writer Andrew Davies (Sense And Sensibility, Bleak House) Little Dorrit will play out in soap opera format with 14 half-hour episodes following an initial hour-long episode.
Anne Pivcevic (Sense And Sensibility) will executive produce the serialisation, with Lisa Osborne producing, and Dearbhla Walsh (The Tudors), Adam Smith (Skins) and Diarmuid Lawrence (Silent Witness, Anglo-Saxon Attitudes) directing.
Kate Harwood, BBC Head of Series and Serials, says: "We are very proud to be presenting this wonderful line-up of cast who will be bringing to life one of Dickens' broadest range of characters in a gripping, witty and touching script by the inimitable Andrew Davies.
"Part-murder mystery, part-love story, and wholly entertaining, Little Dorrit promises to be an autumn treat."
BBC Drama Production is a world leader in classic adaptations and follows the critically-acclaimed adaptations Cranford, Lark Rise To Candleford, and the recent Andrew Davies adaptation of Sense And Sensibility on BBC One.
Little Dorrit was commissioned by Jane Tranter, Controller of BBC Fiction.
This announcement bolsters the rich BBC One Autumn drama schedule which also includes Wallander (starring Kenneth Branagh), Merlin, featuring newcomers Colin Morgan and Bradley James, and Tess Of The D'Urbevilles starring Gemma Arterton.