An upcoming six-part BBC series, The Secret Life of Books, will examine "original texts, manuscripts, letters and diaries of works ranging from Shakespeare to Charles Dickens."
Tony Jordan will be one of the presenters, so maybe we'll hear something from him about his own upcoming series, Dickensian. I hope so -- I haven't been able to find any new information about it for a long time!
Here's a fun tidbit from the London Particular (the Dickens Fellowship Newsletter), submitted by Dr. Christine Corton: An episode of the British TV series Endeavour, titled "Neverland,"showed Morse, the main character, entering a firm of solicitors called "Vholes, Jaggers and Lightwood." Looks like they've got a Dickensian on the writing staff!
BBC Radio 4 is airing a new adaptation of Barnaby Rudge . . . which I didn't find out about until after it started. (Sorry!) I found this out via a BBC News article about lead actor Daniel Laurie, a young man with Down syndrome. Producer-director Jeremy Mortimer (who also did the recent Tale of Two Cities radio adaptation) has some interesting things to say about how casting Daniel made Barnaby realistic and relatable to modern audiences.
You can listen to the first episode on BBC iPlayer; it's up for four more days. The next episode airs Sunday, June 1.
I recently finished listening to this audio dramatization, available through Audible.com. It features a strong cast, including Alex Jennings as Charles Dickens himself (a role he's played before), narrating the action and weaving in and out among the characters as they go about their business. It's an interesting and effective conceit.
I wish I could say I enjoyed everything else about the program as much, but unfortunately, it had some signifcant weakenesses. There was far too little use of Dickens's own words, for one thing. I understand that a dramatization has to add, subtract, and generally change things, but even taking all that into account, I don't see why they had to use so very few of them. Nor do I understand why Eugene and Lizzie's story had to be severely truncated, and John and Bella's story badly botched. (Bella here is still torturing John almost past endurance, long after the point where book-Bella changed her ways and admitted that she loved him.) Also, there was an annoying tendency now and then to cut away from important scenes and bring the narrator in. Even if you like the narrator, that sort of thing tends to yank one abruptly and disagreeably out of the story.
I'm sorry to say it, because I had been pretty excited about this version, but I think many of my fellow OMF fans will find it, though well-produced and well-acted, far from satisfying.
The 1976 adaptation of Our Mutual Friend, long unavailable in the U.S., has been put up on YouTube. It stars Jane Seymour as Bella, John McEnery as John, Lesley Dunlop as Lizzie, and Nicholas Jones as Eugene (a complete cast list is here) -- and for some unknown reason, it has English subtitles! Links are here and here. Thanks to The Buzfuz for the tip!