Watched – Bleak House (it wasn’t)

I have watched the BBC DVD of Bleak House recently, an episode or two per night.   This Andrew Davies adaptation is an absolute delight.  I have enjoyed these half hour episodes very much indeed!  As usual with Dickens there is always a rather large cast of characters.  This is why the half hour episodes work in establishing them – though some are only short-lived – and no wonder in that atmospheric fog clogged London atmosphere!  Yet another sign of total immersion as far as my enjoyment is concerned.  And I feel that I should mention the music – very understated, gently rippling with just a touch of sadness.

A fine cast indeed

The story of Jarndyce versus Jarndyce, the court case to end all court cases though central to the story, got me yawning a bit when reading the book, but here, in bite sized pieces and played so entertainingly, I found them both amusing and interesting.



There are some notable performances too. Gillian Anderson truly astonished me  as Lady Dedlock!  She moved me as I have never been moved before regarding Dedlock’s character.  I cried several times watching her moving performance –  the meeting with her daughter in particular is a tear jerker.   Whilst clinging to the icy exterior of the outer character, I could not help feeling great sympathy for this woman’s inner torment. This a heartbreaking story all round but with a happy ending – well for some.  The eccentric Miss Flyte lets her caged birds fly free when the court case that has ruined so many finally comes to an end, but not before claiming its last young victim Richard leaving poor Ada a widow with impending motherhood.


creepy Tulkinghorn

Notable performances for me apart from the very excellent Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock were  Charles Dance in particular as Tulkinghorn the heartlessly calculating blackmailer, played with an extraordinary reptilian air!  Nathaniel Parker as the ‘child’ Skimpole – a hideous character  presented in a charming package.  Anna Maxwell Martin beautifully played as Miss Esther Summerson, a soft warm loyal girl with intellect, compassion and strength.   The actress’s expressive eyes conveyed all sometimes without even saying a word.  The thoroughly obnoxious Smallweed(‘Shake me up Judy!) I’d like to!  He was played very convincingly by Philip Davies.  But for sheer Dickensian flavour an actor I’d never heard of before, Burn Gorman stole a lot of the scenes, as Guppy.  Guppy is a great comical character anyway, but this man could have stepped out of any Dickens book – his face, the way he talked, the awkwardness of his gait – fabulous!

Burn Gorman as Guppy

I just love Dickens books, and the next best thing to reading them is to watch a carefully filmed, creatively cast BBC adaptation.  I have many and they are calling out to me….

6 thoughts on “Watched – Bleak House (it wasn’t)

  1. I haven’t seen this, but I’ve seen Gillian Anderson in The House of Mirth. She is such a good actress, I wish I’d see her around a bit more. Of course, I fell in love with her as Scully on The X Files.

  2. Hi thegirlfromtheghetto, yes, I saw her in X files, but didn’t really get into it because it clashed with something – can’t even remember what now. But that acting was amazing – and the ACCENT! I’ll certainly be watching her more closely now. I hope she decides to do more of these Period Dramas, that one certainly suited down to the ground. Thanks for visiting!

  3. Thanks for the link to find this.
    I agree – Burn Gorman was superb, he just LOOKS Dickensian! I also liked Charles Dance, a very nasty piece of work indeed.
    Anna Maxwell Martin has gone to do a few other TV parts too, this was the first time I saw her and I thought she was excellent.
    I just hope the BBC has the money to produce more adaptations like this one. The Oliver Twist version a few years later was very good too.
    I must buy those DVDs, I keep relying on YouTube clips to remind me of the great series of Bleak House!

    1. Burn Gorman stepped right out of a Dickins book – wonderful face 🙂 I have seen Anna Maxwell Martin in other stuff, I think she was in a police drama. I still watch those DVDs every so often (and cry at the Gillian Anderson and Anna Maxwell Martin graveyard scene). Smallweed’s ‘Shake me up Judy’ still makes me laugh (but what a horrible character. a definite contender with Tulkinhorn as villain of the piece. Some wonderful characters in that book – almost wall to wall!.

      1. LOL – beaten by the Daleks! Says a lot for the British public’s literary prowess.
        I’d forgotten about ‘Shake me up Judy’. Eeh, creepy!

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