The Gospel in Dickens
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August 08, 2017


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The whole series of 'Quacks' is available on the BBC iplayer in the UK. I have seen 3 of the 6 episodes so far. Dickens appears in the second episode, based around the time he was writing Dombey.

The positives - The costumes, set design, and evocation of the period is very good. The show is absurd, farcical and funny.
There are some in-jokes for those familiar with Dickens' early novels - e.g. one person, finding a friend is going to dine with Dickens, disapprovingly says 'ask him what he has against dwarves'.

The negatives - Andrew Scott's performance is good, but it doesn't have the animation and energy I expect in a depiction of Dickens. This is a lethargic Dickens that I don't recognise, almost as if he has taken strong sedatives, which is perhaps the intention.

Although I enjoyed the show, it is another in the recent trend to bash Dickens. That's probably unsurprising, given the nature of the show. The script is very irreverent about Dickens - he is portrayed as excessively self-satisfied. However, the exaggerations of the script were beyond ridiculous. There is mention of Dickens giving a public reading of 'The Old Curiosity Shop' lasting some seven hours! Really?! Bad script writing - the public readings were of abridged work lasting about a quarter of that time. And this Dickens seems to love recreational drugs (where on earth the script writer got that from I don't know). NB: Dickens certainly isn't singled out for attack - Florence Nightingale also gets it in the neck.

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