The Gospel in Dickens
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December 26, 2015


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I've been trying to find Fanny Biggetywitch since Episode One! The only Fanny I could think of was in The Old Curiosity Shop, and it isn't that one. The only other criticism I had - which I note you did also - was "It isn't dirty enough. They never are." Otherwise, I'm loving it.

little dorrit....?

Completely agree with you. No slush and no place for Joe the crossing sweeper here. But if the series turns viewers into Dickens readers that's no bad thing!

I'm surprised no-one else has worked it out. Biggettywitch sounds Dickensian but it is a made up character, the name of which has come from changing the first letter from the 70's band Pickettywitch. And why has the writer made up a new character? Well, what is the main story? A murder and we all know none of the other characters ends up on the end of a rope because they all appear after this in their subsequent books. Therefore he needed to create another character who sounds like they are from a Dickens book to do the dirty deed. Sorry to spoil the story but its all pretty easy to work out. Shame there are not more 'unknown characters' to make working it out more difficult or if he'd made the story after the books rather than before (though many of the characters here come to a sticky end in their subsequent stories). So you can stop trying to work out which Dickens book Fanny is from because she isn't from any of them.

Apologies for my poor reading abilities, Biggetywitch has been made from changing FOUR letters from the band name of Pickettywitch.

Hello Anvil, that's an interesting point, especially as it's usually the person without an obvious motive that's the culprit - we shall see! However, 'Dickensian' really isn't intended to be a prequel to any of the books. Taking 'The Old Curiosity Shop' as an example, the events in 'Dickensian' occur at, and after the end of that book, and actually change Dickens' storyline. Tony Jordan, the show's creator, said “Nell didn't die. That was my big thing. We actually saw the moment when I resurrected her.” This happened in episode one as Tony Jordan said he “wanted to make a statement very early on that you don’t know what you’re going to expect”.

Tony Jordan has even hinted that Miss Havisham “might marry and live happily ever after”. When watching, I keep in mind Tony Jordan's words that “there are no rules...everything is freed.” See interview in the Telegraph here:

Hello cd - You may be onto something! I know Wikepedia is often wrong, but on the show's Wikepedia page Fanny Biggetywitch is listed as "née Dorrit". This would of course make her Amy Dorrit's older sister ( I'm keeping an open mind!

One final point - there is another character I cannot place. Martha Cratchit's betrothed is John Bagnet, and I thought he was one of Mr and Mrs Bagnet's children from 'Bleak House'. However, on checking, the children's names are Quebec, Malta and Woolwich.

That's quite interesting about Wikipedia. Yes, it's often wrong -- but occasionally it's right. Guess we'll see!

The mystery is solved and Anvil is right (well done Anvil!) Holly Furneaux, Dickensian series advisor, has confirmed that Fanny Biggetywitch is "Tony Jordan’s not Dickens’s character".
See Holly Furneaux's comment below the article here:

That still leaves John Bagnet (Holly Furneaux says that Fanny Biggetywitch is the only Tony Jordan creation in the series, which is strange as I can't find a John Bagnet anywhere in Dickens).

Thanks John, at least part of what I said is definitely correct, whether she is the murderer or not we will have to wait and see as if what you say is correct and that the series will change the Dickens stories (sacrilege !!!)then who knows. Seriously telling the back stories to the novels is a really brilliant and interesting idea, changing them is not but having said that I wonder whether Tony Jordan is in fact playing with his audience in making them keep guessing as so far hasn't actually changed any of them because using your example of Little Nell not dying if she had died at the beginning it would have been in the wrong location anyway as in the book she doesn't die IN the Old Curiosity Shop.

Bagnet is definitely a family name from Dickens. One suggestion is John could be Woolwich Bagnet and has just changed his name to something more normal (Like Zowie Bowie changing his name to Duncan Jones) but looking at the Bleak House time lines this doesn't work as Woolwich is a child when Honoria and Sir Lester are already married and in Dickensian they have only just met. That leaves him being an older member of the Bagnet family (is there any mention at all of Matthew Bagnet having a brother John in the book?)

Anvil, you're right about the identity of the murderer still being up in the air! I understand what you are saying about the location of Nell's death, but I think the decision to film everything on one set of a few streets necessitated the change in Nell's 'resurrection' (in Tony Jordan's description). Indeed, I believe that putting everyone together in one location has already radically changed the original stories (as well as playing havoc with Dickens timelines). It's a bit ridiculous that Jaggers office is cheek by jowl with Fagin's den, Scrooge's counting house, and Satis House (which should be in Kent!) No matter, the idea behind 'Dickensian' is clever, the series is working very well and has me hooked.

I think the series is subtly changing some of the characters though (e.g. Bill Sykes being shy and blushing when wooing Nancy seems out of character). I also think that Tony Jordan's changes to the original stories will increasingly play out as the series continues (for example, I would be surprised if both Miss Havisham and Honoria Barbary end up as Dickens described).

It's insteresting that Tony Jordan has 2 further series (of 20 episodes each) already planned (if the series is recommisioned, which might not happen with all the BBC bashing going on at the moment), so some of the ongoing stories might be left up in the air at the end of this season.

The red herring of Fanny Biggetywitch remains unsolved as she did not kill Marley. I think it's rather good that there are one or two characters that can't be placed. Kept us all guessing didn't it......

watching the show too-Love it! Wish there'd be a season 2!

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