First let me say that my husband absolutely loves Charles Dickens. I, however, find a lot of his novels very sad and dark. The downtrodden seem to always be made more oppressed. With that in mind, I must admit that I wasn’t all that keen to watch the Bleak House miniseries. However, having watched Gillian Anderson as she portrayed Scully in the X Files, I decided, why not! Imagine my surprise when I watched it and loved it!
Bleak House, the British miniseries based on Charles Dickens’ novel, is probably the best BBC production made in 2005. If I had to limit myself to one adjective, “Superb” would be my choice.
This BBC production stars a myriad of actors & actresses – each perfecting their characters. The settings are exactly as we would expect in a work by Dickens. Deep suffering & frustration is depicted in the dark, filthy, and murky scenes which feature the truly poor. The settings which show the lives of the rich are light, airy, opulent: deep, velvety furniture, high ceilings with paintings of finely-clad ancestors, servants with serving platters, etc.
The acting is a treat to watch. Anna Maxwell Martin is refreshingly unaffected as Esther (main character). I had never seen her before seeing Bleak House, and enjoyed her immensely. Denis Lawson does a wonderful job as the grounding “good man” in the production. Gillian Anderson surprised me! She was phenomenal as Lady Dedlock – (not at all Scully-ish!) Nathanial Parker is delightful as a simpering ninny. Warren Clarke (from Dalziel & Pascoe), Burn Gorman, Pauline Collins, and Alren Armstrong were all excellent in their parts — although as a fan of their work, I would have enjoyed seeing more of them!
This Victorian period piece drama is a treat to watch. As with most Dickens’ novels, some of the characters’ names are a delightful surprise. An example of this, Pauline Collins’ “Bird Lady” character is Miss Flite. (I wracked my brain to remember which Dickens’ novel had “Uriah Heep”! >>> David Copperfield)
The screenplay for Bleak House was written by Andrew Davies. If you are a follower/fan of fine British television productions, you no doubt recognize his name. He is responsible for the screenplays of many top-notch British productions.
I strongly recommend this production of Bleak House. It is currently on BritBox.
P.S. This is not a mystery – well, actually, there is a mystery of sorts… but it’s not a traditional “mystery show.”