“Bah, humbug” doesn’t quite cover it. The BBC’s new adaptation of A Christmas Carol has ditched the traditional Dickensian patter in favour of more anachronistic, coarse language – a move which has proved divisive with its audience.
The three-part series, airing on BBC One, is based on Charles Dickens’ classic Victorian novella about Ebeneezer Scrooge, the Christmas-hating miser who is visited by three spirits one winter night.
The cast includes Guy Pearce (Memento) as Scrooge, Andy Serkis (War for the Planet of the Apes) as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Stephen Graham (This is England) as Jacob Marley.
After the first episode was broadcast, however, many viewers took to Twitter to comment on the show’s re-vamped lexicon…
Some people were quick to point out the similarities between Pearce’s Scrooge and Withnail, Richard E. Grant’s foul-mouthed, trenchcoat-wearing misanthrope from the cult 1987 film Withnail and I:
A Christmas Carol was written by Steven Knight, the creative voice behind the hit BBC crime series Peaky Blinders – which might account for some of the grittier changes.
Nevertheless, the adaptation remains faithful to the original text in many ways, even including some figures from the novella that are usually omitted from screen adaptations – such as Kayvan Novak’s Ali Baba, who appears to Scrooge when he revisits his book-loving childhood self.
Many who watched the first episode were impressed by what they saw, citing the acting and moody cinematography, and heaped praise on the show on social media…
Do the changes constitute a much-needed update of Dickens’ essentially dark tale, or a sacrilegious butchering of a classic piece of literature? It’s ultimately up to everyone to decide for themselves – although writer Matt Haig might have had the definitive say on the matter:
A Christmas Carol continues at 9pm tonight (Monday, 23rd December) on BBC One