1 9 6 0 (UK)
13 x 30 minute episodes
Barnaby Rudge was the first of Charles Dickens’ two historical novels (the other being The Tale of Two Cities) and arguably his most obscure.
Set during the late eighteenth century, it climaxed at the Gordon Riots – an anti-Catholic protest which quickly spiralled out of control – of 1780.
Between 40,000 and 60,000 protestors nursing various grievances – including the increasing Catholic influence sweeping the country, high taxes, overcrowded cities and repressive laws – ran amok on the streets of London.
The riots raged on for several days until the army could brutally restore order, by which point some 285 people had been shot dead with several hundred more wounded.
Barnaby Rudge (John Wood) is a simple-minded chap, buffeted along by events rather than directly influencing them. But whilst he may be the title character he’s not the central one – Barnaby drifts in and out of the narrative, appearing and disappearing as required.
Locksmith Gabriel Varden (Newton Blick) has an apprentice called Simon Tappertit (Timothy Bateson) who has set his cap at Dolly Varden (Jennifer Daniel).
Simon links up with a group of dissident apprentices who meet in secret and dream of violent disobedience against their oppressive masters.
Several major new characters are introduced halfway through the series – including anti-Catholic agitator Lord George Gordon (Anthony Sharp) – and we proceed on the path to the Gordon Riots.
Mr Edward Chester
Mr John Chester
Lord George Gordon