Created and written by EastEnders powerhouse Tony Jordan, what could be a gimmicky mish-mashing of Dickens turns out to be good fun.
Working in a similar way to a soap opera with multiple storylines, broad-brush emotions and quick hits of plot, once you get past trying to place which character is in which novel, the story starts to gel. Set on Christmas Eve, Jacob Marley is ruthlessly pursuing his debtors including dying Little Nell’s grandad at the Old Curiosity Shop. When Marley ends up dead there is a murder mystery to be solved and who better to do it than Bleak House’s Inspector Bucket, played by Stephen Rea.
The trail leads him to interviews with Fagan (Anton Lesser), Bill Sikes (Mark Stanley) and Nancy (Bethany Muir). Other plotlines include the young Miss Haversham (Tuppence Middleton) coming into her fortune and welcoming brother Arthur (Joseph Quinn) to a New Year’s party. However, when the handsome man on the make, Compeyson, turns up you want to tell her to run as fast as she can. The cast also includes Caroline Quentin, Pauline Collins, Omid Djalili and Peter Firth.
Dickensian, BBC1, Dec 26, 7pm