Great Expectations

Series 1 - Episode 1

Great Expectations
Radio Times
Review by:
Alison Graham

Charles Dickens’s hard, dark story of orphan Pip sweats with atmosphere right from its opening scenes of a man rising like a bullet-headed submersible from the flat, grey waters of endless, foggy marshland.

Of course, it’s escaped convict Magwitch (Ray Winstone) who terrifies little Pip, cuffed and tormented at home, into becoming a conspirator in his bid for freedom. It’s a tremendous start to a thrilling adaptation blessed with an unforgettable performance by Gillian Anderson as the decrepit Miss Havisham, tipped into quiet derangement by disappointment.

Hopelessly damaged by her jilting at the altar, her house is a monument to thwarted love — the fossilised wedding cake, the cobweb-strewn flowers, and of course, her wedding dress, worn every day and fading to rags.

Anderson will break your heart every time she appears, trapped in girlishness with her sing-song voice and mild, almost fey, manners. But she’s playing a terrible game, manipulating the lives of Pip and her haughty adopted daughter, Estella. Great Expectations continues until Thursday.

About this programme

1/3. Ray Winstone and Douglas Booth star in this three-part dramatisation of the classic Dickens novel about an orphan's rise through high society with the assistance of a mysterious benefactor. Adapted by Sarah Phelps, it forms the centrepiece of the BBC's celebration of Dickens' bicentenary year in 2012. Eleven-year-old Pip's life is changed dramatically by an encounter with escaped convict Abel Magwitch. With David Suchet, Gillian Anderson, Mark Addy and Claire Rushbrook.

Cast and crew


Abel Magwitch
Ray Winstone
Young Pip
Oscar Kennedy
Joe Gargery
Shaun Dooley
Dolge Orlick
Jack Roth
Mrs Joe
Claire Rushbrook
Mark Addy
Paul Rhys
Charlie Creed-Miles
Mary Roscoe
Miss Havisham
Gillian Anderson
Young Estella
Izzy Meikle-Small
Mr Pocket
Andrew Bone
Mrs Pocket
Abigail Bond
David Suchet
Young Herbert
Eros Vlahos
Douglas Booth
Vanessa Kirby


Brian Kirk
Executive Producer
Anne Pivcevic
Executive Producer
Rebecca Eaton
George Ormond
Sarah Phelps