Home Television Drama Great Expectations

Great Expectations

1 9 5 9 (UK)
13 x 30 minute episodes

This BBC production of the Dickens’ classic was serialised in 13 half-hour episodes. Well acted and targeted at a family audience, the series stayed close to the original text.

Young apprentice Pip (played at various times in his life by Dennis Mallard, Dinsdale Landen and Colin Spaull) unexpectedly comes into a fortune through the auspices of a mysterious benefactor.  and falls hopelessly in love with young Estella (Helen Lindsay), who jilted bride Miss Havisham (Marjory Hawtrey) has raised to wage war on the opposite sex.

He also falls hopelessly in love with young Estella (Helen Lindsay), who jilted bride Miss Havisham (Marjory Hawtrey) has raised to wage war on the opposite sex.

One major narrative change has Joe Gargery’s proposed marriage to his housekeeper Biddy taking place before Pip goes to London (this revelation occurs much later in the novel and is the last nail in the coffin of Pip’s disillusionment as he was planning to marry Biddy himself).

The series gives great prominence to Pip’s co-worker at the forge, Orlick (Richard Warner), who we later discover is responsible for the brutal attack on Pip’s bullying sister, and who captures and tortures Pip in episode 11.

The ambiguous ending has Pip telling his godson his life story. “Can’t you make it have a happier ending?,” the boy asks, at which point Estella suddenly materialises and she and Pip are at last united.

Pip
Dennis Mallard
Dinsdale Landen
Colin Spaull
Miss Havisham
Marjory Hawtrey
Estella
Helen Lindsay
Magwitch
Jerold Wells
Joe Gargery
Michael Gwynn
Mr Jaggers
Kenneth Thornett
Herbert Pocket
Colin Jeavons