Monday, June 11, 2012

Dickens of London (1976) TV Miniseries

Dickens of London is a 1976 television miniseries from Yorkshire Television based on the life of English novelist Charles Dickens. Both Dickens and his father John were played by British actor Roy Dotrice. The series was written by Wolf Mankowitz and Marc Miller. In the United States, the series was shown in 1977.

The series of 13 episodes of 60 minutes was directed by Michael Ferguson (6 episodes) and Marc Miller (7 episodes), who was also the series' producer, with David Cunliffe as executive producer. Mankowitz's book, Dickens of London, published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in 1976, was based on the detailed research he made while writing the screenplay.


Each of the 13 episodes of Dickens of London is a separate flashback, with Charles Dickens (Roy Dotrice), by now an internationally famous novelist, in America during a reading tour of 1869, looking back over his life. Dickens the boy (Simon Bell) is shown unhappily pasting labels onto pots of shoe blacking, while Dickens as a young man (Gene Foad) is revealed as a young genius who is becoming aware of his powers and trying to find his own way in the world. Mary Hogarth (Lois Baxter) is the middle one of the three Hogarth daughters and is portrayed as the one person with whom Dickens seems to have been able to share his work with. She died suddenly aged seventeen and Dickens wore her ring on his little finger for the rest of his life. Georgina Hogarth (Christine McKenna), the youngest of the three Hogarth daughters, comes to live with the couple at the request of her oldest sister Catherine Dickens to help run the household. The real life relationship Dickens developed with the young actress Ellen Ternan is not mentioned in the series, nor is Dickens' separation from his wife, Catherine, in 1858.

The series instead focuses on Dickens' improvident father, John Dickens (Roy Dotrice), who was a Naval clerk and who always spent more than he earned. He is portrayed as an alcoholic and that this was the source of the family's financial difficulties. The script includes passages from Dickens' own works, woven skilfully into the dialogue spoken by the series' characters, creating recognizable signposts for readers of Dickens' work.


Episode 1: Mask (broadcast 28 September 1976), Episode 2: The Deed (broadcast 5 October 1976), Episode 3: Blacking (broadcast 12 October 1976), Episode 4: Love (broadcast 19 October 1976), Episode 5: Success (broadcast 26 October 1976), Episode 6: Fame (broadcast 2 November 1976), Episode 7: Money (broadcast 9 November 1976), Episode 8: Possession (broadcast 16 November 1976), Episode 9: Dreams (broadcast 23 November 1976), Episode 10: Magic (broadcast 30 November 1976), Episode 11: Nightmare (broadcast 7 December 1976), Episode 12: Angel (broadcast 14 December 1976), Episode 13: Memories (broadcast 21 December 1976).


Roy Dotrice ... Charles Dickens
Roy Dotrice ... John Dickens
Diana Coupland ... Elizabeth Dickens
Adrienne Burgess ... Catherine Dickens
Gene Foad ... Charles Dickens as a young man
Lois Baxter ... Mary Hogarth
Simon Bell ... Charles Dickens as a boy
Graham Faulkner ... Frederick Dickens
Holly Palance ... Miss Baldwin
T.R. Bowen ... John Forster
Robert Longden ... Hablot Knight Browne
Lynsey Baxter ... Orfling
Paul Lavers ... James Lamert
Michael Macowan ... Sir Giles
Claire McLellan ... Letitia Dickens
Pheona McLellan ... Fanny Dickens as a Child
George Waring ... Huffam
Karen Dotrice ... Maria Beadnell
Derek Francis ... Stage Manager
Raymond Francis ... Mr. Beadnell
Robin Halstead ... Kolle
Richard Hampton ... Daniel Maclise
William Hoyland ... Count D'Orasy
Patsy Kensit ... young Georgina Hogarth
Christine McKenna ... adult Georgina Hogarth
Ben Kingsley ... Dr. John Elliotson
Richard Leech ... Mr. Hogarth
Anthony May ... Hullah
John Nettles ... Mr. Macrone
Vernon Dobtcheff ... Legal gentleman
Connie Booth ... Sophie

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