Novels That Shaped Our World

The Class Ceiling

Series 1 - Episode 3 The Class Ceiling



The final episode in a brief series looks at class in novels, starting with Oliver Twist, the Dickens classic that put what were termed “the lower orders” at the forefront of literature. It is mainly the working class that’s examined here in another occasionally pretentious and patronising instalment – sequences of actors reading bits from novels aren’t necessary.

But there are some good talking heads, including crime novelist Denise Mina, a big fan of both PG Wodehouse and Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. Happily, plenty of time is devoted to Keith Waterhouse’s brilliant Billy Liar, about a daydreaming Yorkshire lad desperate to break away and go to London. And brace yourself for the mucky bits from Lady Chatterley’s Lover.


The documentary explores how novels through the ages have embraced the class struggle, from Dickens, Gaskell and Hardy through to Robert Tressell's The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists and the group of working-class writers who began to write their own stories in post-war Britain. With readings by Russell Tovey, Darren Boyd, Alex Macqueen, Emily Berrington, Freddie Fox, Rian Gordon and Olivia Barrowclough.

Cast & Crew

Reader Olivia Barrowclough
Reader Emily Berrington
Reader Darren Boyd
Reader Josh Collins
Reader Oliver Cotton
Reader Freddie Fox
Reader Nitin Ganatra
Reader Rian Gordon
Reader Billie Howle
Reader Tony Lambie
Reader Alex Macqueen
Reader Russell Tovey
Executive Producer Franny Moyle
Producer John Mullen
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