Little Dorrit

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Little Dorrit

feb 20, 2008, 7:09am

The BBC has announced it will be filming a new adaptation of Little Dorrit in this year.

Press release:

jul 22, 2008, 9:10am

The new series will be broadcast on BBC One in the UK this autumn...

jul 22, 2008, 11:05am

The Arthur Clenham seems particularly well cast. I always thought Derek Jacobi a trifle old to be so daunted by his mother.

Redigerat: jul 23, 2008, 9:57pm

I notice that this is another Andrew Davis adaptation. Now, I can't help feeling that Mr Davis is resting undeservedly on the laurels earned from his (ancient and very good) Pride and Prejudice adaptation.
One of the reasons why P&P was so excellent, imo, was the length, the space given to let the characters develop, the absence of a reliance on technical trickery, and a complete faithfulness to Austen's limpid dialogue.

I have not been impressed with Davis's subsequent efforts. I found his recent Bleak House adaptation, for example, watery and perfunctory, a land of lost opportunities. Think what they could have done with the double narrative. And where was the fog? Bleak House without fog is like... is like..., well, it's like Bleak House without the fog! Where was Dickens's exuberant language?

Perhaps its a problem of budget? The BBC cannot afford to give so much airtime to lengthy classics- might take viewers away from the all important football- so we get huge 19th C novels boiled down to a handful of hourlong episodes. Perhaps it's due to the general dumbing down of TV. Or perhaps Davis has lost the knack?

I notice he's going to be doing a new Middlemarch adaptation. Surely there must be a new generation of other writers out there who could do just as good a job at adapting the classics?

Anyone feel the same about this?

jul 25, 2008, 1:30pm

UKJess: I thought Derek Jacobi was wonderful as Arthur Clenham, because he was so lacking in self confidence and force. In Little Doritt, Alec Guiness was marvelous as the impossibly selfish father, and it was a treat to see Joan Greenwood as an old villainess, after her glorious stint, when young and gorgeous as Lady Bellaston in Tom Jones.
I thought the Bleak House with Diana Rigg was wonderful also. Why are they doing them over when they were done so well before? I had a hard time finding fault with Middlemarch. Why another?
There is a new Brideshead Revisited and again, I like the old one - Jeremy Irons and Laurence Olivier!
I guess I am an old fuddy duddy, but I am glad I own the adaptations above.

jul 25, 2008, 3:14pm

> I'm with you on this, almigwin!!! Also, it seems to me that the newer versions gloss over parts and sometimes leave much out. I also liked the old version of The Forsyte Saga better than the one about four years ago, even if the actors were closer to the right age in the new one.

jul 25, 2008, 5:47pm

Upstairs Downstairs and the Forsyte Saga between them revolutionized television, at least in America.

Redigerat: jul 25, 2008, 6:35pm

Geneg:do you mean that a long sequence of programs like The Sopranos or Sex and the City, or Friends became possible because there was interest in continuing stories with many characters? Weren't soap operas just that? What about Upstairs Downstairs and The Forsyte Saga changed American television?

jul 25, 2008, 6:36pm

#5, I thought Derek Jacobi was wonderful as well, in fact I wrote to him care of his agent to say so, but I also thought that his performance had to overcome the hurdle of his age. I thought particularly well brought out was the way he made mistakes because he had never been allowed to think for himself and wasn't very good at it.

Alec Guiness was so good it was almost unbearable to watch - especially that bit with Old Nandy.

Redigerat: jul 25, 2008, 6:45pm

They were classy soaps. Yes, without them I think there is a possibility that the shows you mentioned might not have emerged.

Jeez, even Tom Corbett and the Space Cadets had ongoing stories from time to time, but I don't think anyone would consider it the direct progenitor (or even remote progenitor) of Masterpiece Theater. Serials have been around since the thirties (if not before).

Keep in mind, Upstairs Downstairs was initially presented in the US as... Upstairs Downstairs. Masterpiece Theater was the child. It was only after the success of Upstairs Downstairs that PBS realized what a good thing they had.

Can't speak for how these things came about for the Brits.

jul 25, 2008, 7:10pm

So true, geneg! For me, PBS (NET in the case of The Forsyte Saga) was an oasis in the desert of US television at that time.

jul 25, 2008, 9:23pm

almigwin: "Why are they doing them over when they were done so well before? " exactly!
What about some other recent 'classics' that could be given the TV treatment?
I'd like to watch A Suitable Boy, for instance.

dec 7, 2008, 5:46am

The BBC series of Little Dorrit has been highly entertaining so far, give or take a few very obvious CGI scenes in Italy and London. The Marshalsea looks more like 3 star hotel with its cavernous rooms and freshly cleaned courtyards! :)

dec 7, 2008, 7:03am

What you say about the new adaptation digifish reflects what I have read elsewhere. I'm really looking forward to watching the DVD now (which is announced on amazon for the end of January)!

dec 7, 2008, 5:49pm

>14 lesezeichen: Excellent! You won't have to wait too long then... :)

Apparently, Andrew Davies is currently working on a new adaptation of Dombey and Son - another one I haven't read yet!

apr 3, 2009, 9:49pm

So what does everyone think now that one episode has aired?

I found it visually very dark. It was hurting my eyes. Also it was hard to see characters. I don't know if I am going to be able to make it through all the episodes. (I have not read the book, so I know that Dickens may have written it very dark, but still it was taxing to watch.)

apr 3, 2009, 11:45pm

Dark, really? The book begins in a blaze of harsh blinding sunlight.

Did they cut the Marseilles episodes?

apr 4, 2009, 1:57pm

Marseilles is the episodes when the Meagleses are travelling, right? Those were bright enough, but many scenes were in the debtors prision and in the Clennams house. These last two could hardly be watched.

apr 9, 2009, 1:30pm

The second episode was much easier on my eyes. I am very excited for the third one!

apr 9, 2009, 8:27pm

The previous production from 1988 with alec guiness as the father and derek jacoby as arthur clenham, and joan greenwood as Mrs. Clenham was much much better, IMO. it is still available on vhs, and will come out on dvd eventually, I assume. It came in two volumes, of two tapes each.

apr 15, 2009, 9:42pm

I have not read the book. Will someone tell me if Matthew Macfadyen is ruining Mr. Clennam? Ever since he ruined Mr. Darcy, I don't trust him.

(Maybe it was not his fault. Maybe the director forced him to ruin Mr. Darcy.)

apr 23, 2009, 12:05pm

I take it that the silence means that no one who has read the book is also watching Masterpiece.

Ah well, _Little Dorrit_ is definitely going on the tbr pile.

apr 23, 2009, 1:45pm

It's a great book. You will not regret reading it.

apr 23, 2009, 5:40pm

But then again, Murr, which Dickens is not great? There are some I like less than others but, honestly, they are all fantastic.

apr 23, 2009, 11:23pm

I agree!

apr 24, 2009, 12:59pm

Mr MacFadyen is rather younger than Arthur is described as being but I think he managed to portray a decent man, handicapped by the repression of his early life but determined to do the right thing. Perhaps his age was to make the relationship with Amy less creepy to modern eyes.

Redigerat: apr 30, 2009, 7:09pm

Thank you, Auntie!

How old was he supposed to be in the book? Is it more like a Dorothea (18)/Causabon (45-50) age difference? Causabon also seemed like he was older than that. He acted like a sixty-year-old.

maj 2, 2009, 2:58am

I have always seen Arthur as perhaps 40ish and Causabon perhaps 15years older. Mr MacFadyen seemed to be playing it as no older than 30. If that.

There's a bit in Little Dorrit where Arthur sees himself as having reached the midpoint of life and to be heading down the slope on the far side. This is, in part, his depression speaking but he must be old enough for that to seem at least plausible. Hence I've always seen him as a tall, dark 40ish.

maj 2, 2009, 7:50pm

I agree with you, AuntieCatherine on both Arthur's and Causabon's age.

maj 3, 2009, 2:19pm

I also wanted to add that Dickens has now joined an elite group: authors who make me cry.

Mill on the Floss, Villette, and now Little Dorrit

That scene with John Chivery telling Clennam about Amy. Oh I cried. Unrequited love always gets me, I guess. I can deal with all other heartbreaks for characters, but there is something about unrequited love.

I really like John Chivery. He is just so thoughtful and long suffering. I knew he would never get Amy. But oh, she could have done a lot worse.

Redigerat: maj 4, 2009, 6:54pm

I know what you mean about John Chivery.

Also I can't read the bit where Arthur meets Gowan's mother at her place and she tortures him by talking rubbish about the Meagles and Pet, with whom he is in love.

nov 8, 2009, 3:46pm

Everyone saw this, right? I think they were nominated for 12, a Masterpiece record. They won 7.

nov 12, 2009, 7:46pm

Though I couldn't help noticing that Andrew Davies was credited as writer

Ahem, what about Mr Dickens?

nov 14, 2009, 12:43pm

I presume Davies wrote the screenplay - there should be a "Based on the novel by Charles Dickens" in the credits as well.

dec 7, 2009, 3:32am

A five-part radio dramatisation of Little Dorrit starts today on BBC Radio 7 at

Redigerat: apr 12, 2012, 8:18am

This miniseries. I love.
Perfect cast

apr 7, 4:09pm

>23 tomcatMurr: I adored Little Dorit! One of my favorites!!

apr 7, 9:42pm

I just finished listening to Little Dorrit read by Robert Whitfield (aka Simon Vance). Some 25 CDs, but well worth it. His performance as Mr Dorrit (Amy's father) and John Chivery are incredible. I cried listening (while driving! not good!) to the part where John Chivery brings Mr. Dorrit cigars--this is after Mr Dorrit has been on his tour of Europe and is so rude and angry to John, and then slowly realizes what he has done. And also the part mentioned by >30 ElizabethPotter: where John tells Arthur that Amy adores him.

I liked both films--the Derek Jacobi/Alec Guinness and the Macfadyen/Foy. But I am hesitant to re-watch any after just listening to this great recording--I guess I want to savor it and not replace it with something else.