My Best Dickens Story – by Great Expectations stars

Gillian Anderson, David Suchet and more reveal what Charles Dickens means to them

BBC1’s Great Expectations brings an all-star cast to the Dickens classic this Christmas – and they each told Radio Times about the impact the novelist had on them as children.

Gillian Anderson (Miss Haversham)

“Dickens is a wonderful storyteller. His characters are so complex, so multifaceted and painful and tragically human. Miss Havisham is an iconic character who pervades our world in various forms. I’m interested in what it is that’s so appealing about her, why she seems to get under people’s skin, a woman who is deeply, almost psychotically manipulative and potentially, really psychologically damaging to two children.”

David Suchet (Mr Jaggers)

“My favourite Dickens novel is A Christmas Carol and Scrooge is my favourite Dickens character. In many ways he represents so much of modern humanity – self-interest and self-concern. The moral is a parable of ultimate goodness and love winning out. Not fashionable perhaps, but oh, so necessary!”

Douglas Booth (Pip)

“My family once had an Oliver Twist-themed Christmas where all our friends and relatives dressed up – it must have been my mum’s idea, because she’s a huge Dickens devotee. I refused to dress up: I would have been about 12, but I thought dressing up on Christmas Day was a bit ridiculous. Mum was thrilled when I got this part – I’ve a horrible feeling she wants to have a Great Expectations Christmas this year…”

Ray Winstone (Magwitch)

“I didn’t read a lot of books when I was a kid, but I remember being glued to the David Lean film of Great Expectations on TV. I didn’t understand what the story was about until I was older, then realised it was sort of about me. I don’t get the chance to do many classics, but this was like coming home.”

Vanessa Kirby (Estella)

One of my earliest memories is sitting with my older brother on my dad’s knee while he read us the classics… Dad would do all the voices and I’d listen entranced, especially by Little Dorrit. I still love Amy Dorrit: how she comes from nothing, struggles with love and makes her fortune – almost like a female Pip.”

Harry Lloyd (Herbet Pocket – and Dickens’s descendent in real life)

“As Dickens’s son’s son’s son’s daughter’s son, I don’t think I have any special right or privilege, but I was probably aware of him from a younger age than some people, especially as I was quite bookish. Great Expectations is the book I would pull out – it feels a bit more adult, written by someone who has been through more.”

This is an edited version of an article from the issue of Radio Times published 3 December

Great Expectations is on BBC1 at 9:00pm nightly from Tuesday 27 to Thursday 29 December

 

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