The BBC's new adaptation of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations arrives with some pretty lofty expectations of its own, not least because it stars Olivia Colman in the role of Miss Havisham.


It seems that writer Steven Knight, known for creating Peaky Blinders and SAS Rogue Heroes amongst other series, was also enthused by this casting, as it led him to go back to the scripting stage and add in what he has called "saucy lines".

Knight explained: "[Miss Havisham] was written as quite a big role anyway – obviously you’ve got to write it to get the actor – and she’s got to read pretty much beginning, middle and end. But when I knew it was Olivia obviously then you go back and start to enjoy yourself because you can start adding [a] bit more of what Olivia brings.

"She’s just so powerful on the screen. There’s a couple of things we changed once we knew she would be in the role – a couple of what you’d call saucy lines where you know she’s going to pull it off in a way that it’s going to be just right. And she does."

Olivia Colman as Miss Havisham, Fionn Whitehead as Pip and Shalom Brune-Franklin as Estella in Great Expectations.
Olivia Colman as Miss Havisham, Fionn Whitehead as Pip and Shalom Brune-Franklin as Estella in Great Expectations. BBC/FX Networks/Pari Dukovic

This new six-part adaptation of Great Expectations also stars Fionn Whitehead, Shalom Brune-Franklin, Ashley Thomas and Johnny Harris amongst others, and is executive produced by Tom Hardy and Ridley Scott.

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It's one of a number of projects Knight is currently working on, with the list also including a second season of SAS Rogue Heroes, a second season of Taboo, and new series This Town and A Thousand Blows.

There's also the small matter of the Peaky Blinders movie, which both Sophie Rundle and Daryl McCormack have said they are yet to hear anything about.

However, both were quick to praise the series and its fans, with Rundle saying: "I'm so, so proud of being a part of that show. It found itself as we were making it and I feel like it's been something British TV can be really proud of.

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"And it only became that because people loved it, because people stuck with it and rooted for it and gave it life."

Great Expectations airs on BBC One and BBC iPlayer from Sunday 26th March. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


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