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Bleak House (BBC Drama, Gillian Anderson, Anna Maxwell Martin)

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Bleak House BBC Drama, Gillian Anderson

Bleak House is an adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel set in Victorian times. The story centres on two grown-up orphans, Esther Summerson (Anna Maxwell Martin) and Richard (Patrick Kennedy) who are the subject of a contested will and are staying with their ward’s guardian at his home – Bleak House – whilst the matter is settled.

Other characters come into play including greedy lawyers and society beauties with long hidden secrets and the story is told in a soap-opera like form in twice-weekly half-hour instalments.

When repackaged for overseas broadcasters (for example the ABC in Australia) the show was reformatted to 8×50 minute episodes.

Stephen Pile of the Daily Telegraph commented that “This gorgeous and exhilarating new series was like watching Dickens filmed by the director of Spooks, with the latest nervy, pacy, zooming camerawork fashionably on show – this was an impressive and beautiful translation of a Victorian soap opera into contemporary television terms”.

The serial won the following BAFTA awards: Best Actress – Anna Maxwell Martin • Best Drama Serial • Best Costume Design • Best Set Design • Best Editing

Cast: GILLIAN ANDERSON as Lady Dedlock; CHARLES DANCE as Mr Tulkington; DENIS LAWSON as John Jarndyce; ANNA MAXWELL MARTIN as Esther Summerson; PATRICK KENNEDY as Richard; CAREY MULLIGAN as Ada

Writer:  Andrew Davies / Novel: Charles Dickens / Executive Producers: Laura Mackie, Sally Haynes, Rebecca Eaton
Producer: Nigel Stafford-Clark / Director: Justin Chadwick

UK / BBC One – WGBH Co-Production in association with Deep Indigo / 1×60 minute episode 14×30 minute episodes / Broadcast 27 October – 16 December 2005