The Telegraphhas some praise for last night's season 1 finale of Dickensian, and for the show in general -- but not quite so much praise for BBC One, which "passed [it] around the schedule like an unwanted orphan." The article is spoilery, although if you're familiar with the plots of Bleak House, Great Expectations, and Oliver Twist, it shouldn't be TOO spoilery.
The Sunday Times reports that the BBC should decide on a renewal for Dickensian in the next month, and that Tony Jordan already has lots of ideas in mind, including Marley's appearance as a ghost. (The full article is subscriber-only.) Meanwhile, Jonathan Wright at The Guardian praisesDickensian as "the riskiest show on primetime TV."
Rachel Holdsworth recently took a few swipes at Dickens in the New Statesman, claiming that the show Dickensian is boring and "it's really all Dickens's fault."
This, she says, is because (1) Dickens wrote women poorly and (2) "Dickens wrote potboilers." This is a rarely used word nowadays, so I give you the Merriam-Webster definition: "a usually inferior work (as of art or literature) produced chiefly for profit."
Thanks to John Kyriacou, who pointed us to Holly Furneaux's revelation that the mysterious Fanny Biggetywitch on Dickensian is definitely a Tony Jordan character, not a Charles Dickens character. Furneaux is an adviser on the series, so she knows whereof she speaks. (She also mentions something I hadn't heard before -- that Dora Spenlow's dog, Jip, is on the show as well!)
One other interesting piece of Dickensian news from the same source: The Dickens Museum will have a special exhibition on the series, beginning January 19.
In The Guardian, Stephen Moss writes about how the new show makes him want to start reading Dickens again. Some of his compliments to the author are a bit backhanded, and he really needs to start his reread with Oliver Twist, because his descriptions of the characters from memory are nothing like the actual characters. He actually thinks of Bill Sikes as a "comedy villain," for instance. (I'm guessing he's more familiar with Oliver! the musical than Oliver the novel.) However, his praise of the show is sincere and his desire to go back to Dickens an excellent sign. "Only [Tony] Jordan has made me want to return to the books and immerse myself in Dickens’ imaginative world again," he writes. I hope the same will be true of many more viewers.
Has a non-Dickensian character sneaked into Dickensian? Our guest reviewer John Kyriacou and commenter Lesley Cookman have both written about the character of Fanny Biggetywitch (played by Ellie Haddington) and how they've been unable to place her. I consulted Paul Davis's Charles Dickens A to Z, an excellent guide to the various people, places, and things found in Dickens's works, but found no mention of her.
BBC One's character profile for Fanny is here, but gives no clue as to her identity. There are several possible explanations: She could be using an alias, with her real name to be revealed at a later date; "Biggetywitch" could turn out to be the married name of a Dickens character called Fanny whom we've only met under her maiden name; she could be the descendant or the ancestor of someone from Dickens's work; or she could simply have been made up.
Because I haven't yet seen the show, and know nothing about the character beyond what's on that page, I don't know which of these scenarios is likeliest to be true. Your thoughts and theories are welcome in the comment section!
I watched the first two episodes of Dickensian earlier. My overall impression is that the cast and crew have done a great job, and the series is a treat.
The first episode was almost like eating a huge Christmas pudding in one sitting. Too many characters were introduced and too quickly (less is more, as they say). While it was fun playing "spot the character," this whirlwind of characters might have been a tad confusing for those unfamiliar with Dickens. I think the first two episodes should have been broadcast together, in one chunk, as the second episode slowed the pace, allowing some breathing space.