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Bleak House

Premier :: 2005-10-27

on BBC One

Genre :: Mini-Series

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Bleak House is regarded as one of Charles Dickens' best achievements - the greatest ever depiction of Victorian London, from its glittering heights to its very lowest depths; a skilfully crafted thriller; an epic feast of characters and storylines; and a passionate indictment of the legal system that is as searingly relevant today as it was in the mid 19th century.Bleak House In Numbers:# Episodes: 15# Speaking roles: 80# Principal cast members: 40# Weeks of shooting: 21# Extras (in total): 2,000# Extras (in any one scene): 75# First day of shooting: 7th Feb [Charles Dickens' birthday]It was first published in 19 monthly instalments between March 1852 and September 1853. The TV adaptation, written by the award-winning Andrew Davies, comprises a one-hour opening episode followed by 14 half-hour episodes. It will be shown twice weekly, using the pace, multiple storylines and cliff-hanger endings more usually associated with popular drama. The aim is to return Dickens to the broad audience he originally wrote for.It tells the story of the icily beautiful Lady Dedlock (Gillian Anderson), who nurses a dark secret in her past, and the merciless lawyer Tulkinghorn (Charles Dance), who seeks to uncover it.Then there's the generous John Jarndyce (Denis Lawson), struggling with his own past, and his two attractive young wards Richard (Patrick Kennedy) and Ada (Carey Mulligan). Like Lady Dedlock, they're all caught up in the infamous case of Jarndyce vs Jarndyce, which will make one of them rich beyond imagination - if it can ever be brought to a conclusion.And there's Esther Summerson (Anna Maxwell Martin), a girl without a past, whom Jarndyce takes under his wing as a companion for Ada, but with whom he falls in love, and whose connection with Lady Dedlock may bring ruin to them both.The cast of characters also contains some of Dickens' most famous creations - Smallweed (Phil Davis), the gleefully malignant moneylender; Miss Flite (Pauline Collins) with her tragic/comic mix of eccentricity and insight; the eccentric, and often drunk Krook (Johnny Vegas); Nemo (John Lynch), the mysterious law writer; Guppy (Burn Gorman), the ambitious young clerk, infatuated with Esther; Bucket (Alun Armstrong) the coolly amoral police inspector, at the centre of fiction's first ever whodunit; and Jo the young crossing sweeper, whose story almost brought Victorian England to a standstill.A BBC Production in association with Deep Indigo, Bleak House is the third collaboration between Andrew Davies and producer Nigel Stafford-Clark, following the acclaimed Trollope adaptations The Way We Live Now and He Knew He Was Right. It's directed by Justin Chadwick (EastEnders and Spooks) and Susanna White (Teachers and Mr Harvey Lights A Candle). Filming took place in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Kent between February and July 2005.

Latest Episode

Series 1 - Episode 15 - Episode 15
Aired - 16 December 2005

Episode summary:

Months have passed since Lady Dedlock's (Gillian Anderson) death. Richard's (Patrick Kennedy) obsession with Chancery has left him seriously ill. When Esther (Anna Maxwell Martin) visits Ada (Carey Mulligan), she finds her desperately concerned for Richard's health. Ada also reveals she's pregnant, but doubts Richard will live to see his child.Woodcourt (Richard Harrington) tells Esther that Jarndyce (Denis Lawson) has found him a position as a medical practitioner in the North. He plans to take the job, but first declares Esther the love of his life, and proposes. He wants to take her with him to Yorkshire. However, Esther has to turn him down, admitting she's not free to marry since she's engaged to Jarndyce.Esther's left very upset, but pulls herself together and asks Jarndyce the next morning to set a date for their wedding. They will marry in a month.Meanwhile, Smallweed (Phil Davis) discovers an important document amongst Krook's (Johnny Vegas) many papers – a will from the original John Jarndyce. The impossible finally happens – a result in Chancery.Richard's the true heir to the inheritance - but all the money goes on court casts. The only victor is Chancery itself. It's the final blow to Richard who dies shortly afterwards.Jarndyce breaks off his engagement to Esther. He realises she's in love with Woodcourt, and leaves the pair free to marry.

Watch Episodes Online - Episode Guide

+ Series 1

+ Episode - 15 Episode 15 Aired - 16 December 2005
+ Episode - 14 Episode 14 Aired - 15 December 2005
+ Episode - 13 Episode 13 Aired - 09 December 2005
+ Episode - 12 Episode 12 Aired - 08 December 2005
+ Episode - 11 Episode 11 Aired - 02 December 2005
+ Episode - 10 Episode 10 Aired - 01 December 2005
+ Episode - 9 Episode 9 Aired - 25 November 2005
+ Episode - 8 Episode 8 Aired - 24 November 2005
+ Episode - 7 Episode 7 Aired - 17 November 2005
+ Episode - 6 Episode 6 Aired - 11 November 2005
+ Episode - 5 Episode 5 Aired - 10 November 2005
+ Episode - 4 Episode 4 Aired - 04 November 2005
+ Episode - 3 Episode 3 Aired - 03 November 2005
+ Episode - 2 Episode 2 Aired - 28 October 2005
+ Episode - 1 Episode 1 Aired - 27 October 2005

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