Tales From Dickens was a series of adaptations of Charles Dickens stories usually shown over the Christmas period. These were all filmed in 1958-1959 at Elstree Studios for Harry Alan Towers who sold them to ABC TV in the UK but it took several years for the 13 episodes that made up the series to actually air. The majority of the stories came from The Pickwick Papers and David Copperfield.
In Dave Mann’s book about Harry Alan Towers called The Transnational Career of a Cinematic Contrarian the author briefly mentions Tales From Dickens. Towers had hoped to interest an American network into producing a 39 episode decent budget series with Fredric March introducing each episode in a set made up to look like Dicken’s own study. In the even only 13 episodes were produced and the budget substantially reduced. March also only introduced seven of the episodes, these intros were all recorded in 1958-59.
The episode Young David which was broadcast as part of the Armchair Summer Theatre strand was actually an edit of two episodes both focusing on David Copperfield.
Two left over episodes from the original run turned up on Christmas Day 1966, these were Miss Haversham and The Old Soldier shown together in a double bill.
It’s quite difficult to get accurate details of the series, some of the episodes in the below list were listed as repeats in listings despite there being no evidence that were screened before. Part of the problem is that Harry Alan Towers was an independent producer who had scored great success in the mid-fifties was now running a seat of his pants operation. The idea for the series came from a 1955 production that Towers produced for Desilu/CBS with Basil Rathbone as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.
UK / ITV – ABC – Towers of London / 13×25 minute episodes / Broadcast 27 December 1959 – 25 December 1966
Stories: Charles Dickens / Producer: Harry Alan Towers
Dates are based on transmission in the ABC Midlands area. Not all ITV regions broadcast the episodes.
THE RUNAWAYS (27 Dec 1959)
A CHRISTMAS CAROL (27 Dec 1959)
URIAH HEEP (24 Dec 1960)
CHRISTMAS AT DINGLEY DELL (25 Dec 1960)
MR PICKWICK’S DILEMMA (24 Dec 1961)
SAM WELLER AND HIS FATHER (3 Jun 1962)
DAVID AND HIS MOTHER (10 Jun 1962)
DAVID AND BETSY TROTWOOD (17 Jun 1962)
DAVID AND MR MICAWBER (24 Jun 1962)
DAVID AND DORA (1 Jul 1962)
DAVID AND DORA GET MARRIED (8 Jul 1962)
MISS HAVERSHAM (25 Dec 1966)
THE OLD SOLDIER (25 Dec 1966)
Miss Haversham and The Old Soldier were shown in a double bill.
There is no actual airdate for the episode Bardell Versus Pickwick which starred Donald Wolfit, Richard Briers and Jack Watling. It was filmed sometime in 1959 though.