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Oliver Twist (BBC)  [DVD]
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"A whos who of acting talent captures perfectly Dickens army of exaggerated grotesques..." --The Times
Starring: Timothy Spall, William Miller, Adam Arnold, Tom Hardy, Sophie Okenedo, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Edward Fox, Anna Massey, Morven Christie, Sarah Lancashire, Gregor Fisher, Rob Brydon, John Sessions.
This gripping take on Charles Dickens classic remains faithful to the spirit of the novel while delivering a modern, thrilling, tragic and occasionally comic edge. Sarah Phelps (EastEnders), one of Britain's most dynamic television writers, has adapted this powerful story,
Oliver is born into poverty and misfortune the son of an unmarried mother, who dies shortly after his birth; he is soon delivered to the workhouse. There, the cruel Mr Bumble oversees children tormented by starvation and suffering. When Oliver dares ask for more gruel, he finds himself cast out and forced to make his own way in the world.
Running away to London, Oliver meets the Artful Dodger and his gang, as well as the beautiful Nancy and gets the first warm welcome of his life but he is soon to discover that this kindness requires its own type of payment.
As Oliver is drawn deeper into the dark and murky underworld, he remains unaware that the kind Mr Brownlow is searching for him, while others the brutal criminal Bill Sikes, the manipulative Fagin and the mysterious Mr Monks are vying to ruin and destroy his life
A New Twist on Oliver Twist
Adapted by: Sarah Phelps.
Another costume drama, another classic literary adaptation, and another stellar cast. You cant help thinking that it all becomes a matter of routine for commissioning editors at the BBC. But panic not: Oliver Twist is, yet again, a strong piece of work, and well worth adding to the corporations impressive collection.
Based, as youd expect, on the Dickens text, and adapted with real skill by Sarah Phelps, Oliver Twist is a strong three hours of drama. The script isnt ideal for the Dickens purist, as Phelps has brought some new ideas to her work, but its hard to quibble with the quality of the drama that results.
Oliver Twists outstanding cast is led by Timothy Spall, and also brings together Tom Hardy, Sophie Okenedo, Edward Fox, Sarah Lancashire and Gregor Fisher among others. They inherit and inhabit Dickens varied collection of characters with exceptional skill, and they help to vividly bring the tale of the artful dodger to the small screen.
It should be noted that Oliver Twist isnt a perfect production, with the deviations from the source material presenting a couple of talking points. But it conforms ably to the high standards weve come to expect from BBC costume productions, and while its not their finest work, its a very good piece of television drama thats well worth investing your time in. --Jon Foster