Five contemporary novelists examine the craft of Dickens's prose, and reflect on how the giant of British nineteenth-century fiction is both a role model and a shadow looming over their own writing. Taking as their starting point a favourite extract from one of Dickens's novels, each writer discuss Dickens's themes, narrative techniques and writing craft, and tells us what they themselves have learnt from it. They offer thoughtful, unusually engaged and focused critical appreciation of Dickens's skill, as well as valuable insights into their own work and how they themselves wrestle with the subject and technique under discussion.
In the fourth programme in the series novelist Alexander McCall Smith salutes Dickens's mastery of the episodic form, something he himself used with great success in his novels 44 Scotland Street, published over several years in a daily newspaper, and Corduroy Mansions, published in daily episodes online.
First broadcast in December 2011.