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This gripping new series by Andrew Davies brings to life Dickens's powerful story of struggle and hardship in 1820s London. When Arthur Clennam returns to England after many years abroad, his curiosity is piqued by the presence in his mother's house of a young seamstress, Amy Dorrit. The cold and forbidding Mrs Clennam isn't usually given to charity, so why has she made an exception in taking on Amy? Is she making reparations for a past wrongdoing? Arthur's quest to discover the truth takes him to the Marshalsea Prison for Debt. Here he meets and befriends Amy's father, William Dorrit, who is the prison's longest serving inmate. As he tries to help the Dorrits, Arthur discovers that the dark shadow of debt stretches far beyond the walls of the Marshalsea Prison, to affect the lives of many. Just as it is possible to climb to the very top in London Society's intricate game of snakes and ladders, so it is possible to slip right down. But if Arthur succeeds in unravelling the mystery of his family's past, where will it leave him in the scheme of things? And where will it leave the Dorrits?.
A victim of her fathers debts, Little Dorrit has spent her childhood behind the heavy, iron doors of the Marshalsea Prison in London. Will a chance meeting change her future?
This gripping new series by Andrew Davies brings to life Dickenss powerful story of struggle and hardship in 1820s London. When Arthur Clennam returns to England after many years abroad, his curiosity is piqued by the presence in his mothers house of a young seamstress, Amy Dorrit.
The cold and forbidding Mrs Clennam isnt usually given to charity, so why has she made an exception in taking on Amy? Is she making reparations for a past wrongdoing?
Arthurs quest to discover the truth takes him to the Marshalsea Prison for Debt. Here he meets and befriends Amys father, William Dorrit, the prisons longest serving inmate. As he tries to help the Dorrits, Arthur discovers that the dark shadow of debt stretches far beyond the walls of the Marshalsea Prison, to affect the lives of many. Just as it is possible to climb to the very top in London Societys intricate game of snakes and ladders, so it is possible to slip right down.
But if the daring and adventurous Arthur succeeds in unravelling the mystery of his familys past, where will it leave him in the scheme of things? And where will it leave the Dorrits?.
AMY DORRIT lives in the Marshalsea Prison for Debt with her father, WILLIAM DORRIT, who has been an inmate there for countless years. Although born and bred in the prison, she is far from being downtrodden and has grown up to be an enterprising young woman. At the start of the story she gains employment as a seamstress at the House of Clennam. Her employer is the stern and formidable MRS CLENNAM, who has been paralysed and confined to her room for a dozen years. Events are set in motion in the CLENNAM household when MRS CLENNAMs son, ARTHUR, returns unexpectedly from China after an absence of twenty years. ARTHUR brings the news that his father, whos also been in China, has died. ARTHUR is convinced that his father died with something on his conscience, but MRS CLENNAM adamantly dismisses any such suspicion. ARTHUR questions the presence of AMY DORRIT in the house. Mrs Clennam already has two faithful servants, FLINTWINCH and AFFERY, so why has she taken on this little seamstress? He becomes convinced that this girl must be the one whom his father somehow wronged, and he sets out to find out if he is right. He follows AMY to the Marshalsea and meets the whole Dorrit family: Amys father and the head of the family, WILLIAM DORRIT, her eccentric uncle, FREDERICK, her idle brother, TIP, and her sister, the dancer, FANNY. But can any of them confirm his suspicion for him?
ARTHUR strikes up a tentative friendship with AMY DORRIT, resolving to help her in any way he can. He remains suspicious that his family might have been involved in her fathers downfall, and that this is what was on his fathers conscience when he died. If he can prove it, he can help put an end to the Dorrit familys longstanding woes for good. He also continues to settle back into life in England, becoming reacquainted with his childhood sweetheart, FLORA CASBY. However, his mind is still on the pretty PET MEAGLES, whom he met on his journey back to England. Hes therefore pleased to become reacquainted with PETs father, MR MEAGLES, and to receive an invitation to the family home in Twickenham. Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away in France, the sinister and coldblooded murderer RIGAUD, who is seemingly unconnected with the story so far, becomes reacquainted with his old cellmate, CAVALLETTO. CAVALLETTO unwittingly plants in RIGAUD the idea of coming to England
AMY is extremely moved by ARTHURs kindness in paying for TIPs release from the Marshalsea. So much so that she takes the enormous risk of going, accompanied by her friend, MAGGY, to his lodgings to thank him, regardless of the fact that shell miss the curfew at the Marshalsea and will have to spend the rest of the night on the dangerous streets of London. Seeing AMYs heart go out to Arthur almost breaks the heart of the turnkeys son, JOHN CHIVERY. He has held a torch for AMY since childhood and he is now forced to galvanise himself in order to seize his chance with her before its too late. The rent-collector and part-time sleuth, PANCKS, takes charge of Arthurs investigations into his familys past, leaving ARTHUR free to visit the MEAGLESES in Twickenham. PET is as sweet-natured as he remembered but her servant and companion, TATTYCORAM, is increasingly troubled. It transpires that she has been in contact with the strange, aloof MISS WADE, whom they all encountered in Marseilles. What does MISS WADE want with the vulnerable TATTYCORAM?
JOHN CHIVERY, sensing a rival in ARTHUR, decides to make his move and propose to AMY. Its too late, however, and AMY, who already has feelings for Arthur, turns JOHN down. JOHN is heartbroken. And MR DORRIT is extremely put out that AMY has upset the Chiverys, from whom he gets so much preferential treatment in the Marshalsea. ARTHUR meanwhile, entirely ignorant of Amys feelings for him, is also disappointed in love when he meets PETs rival suitor, HENRY GOWAN. However, he enjoys meeting the MEAGLESES family friend, the inventor and engineer, DANIEL DOYCE. He has been looking for a new business venture since his return to England. Has he found the ideal partner in DOYCE? CAVALLETTO arrives in London, only to discover that hes been followed by the very man he came to England to get away from: RIGAUD. RIGAUD encounters FLINTWINCHs twin brother, EPHRAIM, in a tavern. Seeing the box containing Mrs Clennams secret papers, RIGAUD immediately senses an opportunity
FANNY invites AMY with her to see MRS MERDLE. MRS MERDLE is the mother of FANNYs admirer, EDMUND SPARKLER. She is also the wife of the richest man in the country. MRS MERDLE takes great pains to explain to FANNY why a match between a dancing girl such as herself and an extremely wealthy and eligible young man such as her son is not possible. But FANNY isnt easily intimidated, and refuses to take MRS MERDLEs insults lying down. FLORA, who has sensed a rival for Arthurs affections in AMY, decides to keep her enemies close by inviting AMY to come and work for her. But is Flora justified in worrying about Arthurs feelings for Amy? PANCKS, when hes not being bullied by his employer, MR CASBY, continues his investigations into the connection between the Dorrits and the Clennams. He hints to AMY about the possibility of an imminent discovery
PANCKS busies himself with more investigating, proceeding to recruit JOHN CHIVERY to help him with his enquiries, (assuring JOHN that its all in the interest of his beloved AMY). He also recruits a lawyer, MR RUGG. AMY notices PANCKS flitting about the place and wonders what hes up to. Determined to try his luck, ARTHUR returns to Twickenham to propose to PET. However, PET breaks the news to him that she has decided to marry GOWAN and ARTHUR returns to London, thoroughly disheartened. TATTYCORAM finally decides that she has had enough of being ordered about, and she storms out of the house, declaring that she is leaving for good. MEAGLES, deeply concerned for her welfare, enlists ARTHUR to help him find her. They guess correctly that shes gone to MISS WADEs, but can they convince her to part with this woman who seems to have a hold on her?
RIGAUD visits MRS CLENNAMs house, pretending that hes come on business. Although hes in no rush to let on that hes in possession of the box containing her secret papers, FLINTWINCH is quick to cotton on that this is the case. RIGAUD charms MRS CLENNAM and she, little knowing the power he has over her, invites him to come back when hes ready to do business. PET and GOWAN get married, much to MR and MRS MEAGLES disappointment. ARTHUR is forced to swallow his pride and be best man. He reveals his bitter sentiments about the marriage to Amy, who again hides her disappointment at hearing him talk of his love for another woman. PANCKS, meanwhile, has finally finished his investigations and prepares to reveal his incredible discovery to the Dorrits.
The Dorrits make their triumphant departure from the Marshalsea. ARTHUR looks on in the knowledge that he may never see them again. Mr Dorrit has instructed that the friendship with him be brought to an end. He wants to leave the past, and everyone in it, behind him. MR DORRIT wastes no time in employing a lady, MRS GENERAL, to offer instruction in etiquette to his daughters. MRS GENERAL suggests that the family goes on a Grand Tour and, before they know it, the Dorrits have left the country. AMY, however, doesnt leave without ensuring that her friends the poverty-stricken PLORNISHES and MAGGY - are well provided for and everyone, especially ARTHUR, but even the coldhearted MRS CLENNAM, reflects on how much they will miss her. The first person that the Dorrits encounter on their Grand Tour is RIGAUD. He is travelling with the newly-wed GOWANS and much to AMYs discomfort, he seems to take a special interest in her
The Dorrits, still on their Grand Tour, arrive in Venice. AMY, unlike the rest of the family, struggles to adapt to her new, wealthy lifestyle. MR DORRIT cant understand why this is and begins to lose his patience with her, particularly when she keeps referring to the old days the very times that he longs to obliterate from his memory. Amys uncle, FREDERICK, is the only one who seems able to relate to how she feels. Back in London ARTHUR, missing Amy, throws himself into his work, resolving to take up DOYCEs case at the Circumlocution Office. AMY and ARTHUR strike up a correspondence and these letters, along with AMYs growing friendship with PET, are what keep her going. However, the problem is that every time AMY wants to see PET, she has to see RIGAUD too. And, much to AMYs displeasure, RIGAUD seems to continue to want to get near to her, and to find out more about her
FANNY worries about the burgeoning affection between MR DORRIT and MRS GENERAL. The thought of having MRS GENERAL as a step-mother makes her want to pursue marriage to EDMUND SPARKLER, who has arrived in Venice with his mother, MRS MERDLE. MRS MERDLE, however, will do anything she can to prevent such a marriage. She enlists the help of her husband, MR MERDLE, in finding a way of getting SPARKLER away from FANNY. Back in England, MR and MRS MEAGLES receive a visit from HENRY GOWANs mother, the snobbish MRS GOWAN. MRS GOWAN repeats her self-invented myth that the MEAGLESES trapped her son into marriage. The MEAGLESES, furious with MRS GOWAN and worried for PETs reputation, decide to go out to Venice to be with her. ARTHUR visits his mother only to find a stranger standing on her doorstep. The stranger in question is RIGAUD, just returned from Venice. ARTHUR realises immediately that RIGAUD is a criminal, but what business could he possibly have with MRS CLENNAM?
MR MERDLE secures a position for SPARKLER at the Circumlocution Office. MRS MERDLE is gleeful to have got her son out of FANNYs clutches. But is she underestimating FANNY and rejoicing too soon? ARTHUR receives a shock when PANCKS shows him an official handbill detailing the disappearance of RIGAUD, last seen at the House of Clennam. It suggests that MRS CLENNAM is suspected of Rigauds murder. CAVALLETTO adds to the shock by informing ARTHUR that RIGAUD himself is a murderer. ARTHUR rushes round to MRS CLENNAMs, to find out whats been going on, but she remains stonily reticent in the face of his questions. Undiscouraged, ARTHUR remains determined to find RIGAUD and to clear his mothers name.
MR DORRIT returns to England with the newlyweds, FANNY and SPARKLER. He is overawed by the splendour of the Merdle House and deeply flattered when MR MERDLE offers to help him invest his fortune. ARTHUR also decides to invest the capital of DOYCE AND CLENNAM in Merdles bank. He has big ambitions for the business, persuading DOYCE of the need for expansion. Despite all of this, he remains deeply worried by the suspicion surrounding his mothers house over the disappearance of RIGAUD. With the aim of laying the matter to rest once and for all, he commissions PANCKS to find MISS WADE, in the hope that she can lead him to RIGAUD. MR DORRIT meanwhile quickly settles into the London highlife, greatly enjoying being the distinguished guest and friend of MR MERDLE. However, when old faces from the past start popping up here and there, reminding him of the times he would rather forget, matters begin to take an unexpected turn for the worse
MR DORRIT has returned to Venice a shadow of his former self, unravelled by the constant reminders in London of his unhappy, shameful past. AMY looks on, powerless, as he continues to fall apart. His one remaining wish is for a future together with MRS GENERAL, but is the contemplation of such a future enough to spur him on? Meanwhile, PANCKS discovers the whereabouts of MISS WADE for ARTHUR, and ARTHUR wastes no time in heading to her new address in Whitstable to ask her where he might find RIGAUD. Hes increasingly convinced that RIGAUDs hold over the House of Clennam has something to do with the familys secret past and hes determined to put a stop to RIGAUDs machinations and to uncover the truth about that past for himself. MR MERDLE, although having succeeded in convincing half of London to invest in his lucrative bank, remains strangely hang-dog and depressed. He visits FANNY and SPARKLER and asks to borrow a pen-knife, before disappearing again
MR MERDLEs death sends shockwaves through London, as it transpires that all along he had been fiddling his books and in reality, he had nothing. The thousands of people who invested in him now face financial ruin. One of those unfortunate people is ARTHUR, who finds himself in the Marshalsea Prison for Debt. When AMY discovers that ARTHUR is now an inmate of the Marshalsea, she abandons her own family crisis brought about by MERDLEs suicide, and rushes to be by his side. However, although its now transparent that ARTHUR loves her, he also makes it clear that he wont allow her to bind herself to him now that hes in prison. With little chance of ever obtaining his own release, he sends AMY away and tells her not to come back again. RIGAUD re-emerges and it is clear that he is finally ready to reveal his full set of cards to MRS CLENNAM. But what exactly is it that he knows about the House of Clennam. And, when she finds out what he knows, will MRS CLENNAM finally give into his threats?. Matthew Macfadyen (MI-5, Pride and Prejudice), Claire Foy, Tom Courtenay (The Golden Compass), Alun Armstrong (Bleak House), Mackenzie Crook (Pirates of the Carribean, the original UK The Office), Judy Parfitt (Dolores Claiborne), Ruth Jones (Gavin and Stacey, Little Britain), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings), James Fleet (Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Vicar of Dibley), Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who)
|Run Time:||Approx. 480 mins|
|Starring:||Matthew Macfadyen ;Claire Foy;Tom Courtenay|
|Editorial Reviews:||"Dickens, Andrew Davies, lots of money, top names... how could it be anything other than brilliant ... Oh, and by happy circumstance, because of the current economic climate it's also suddenly very relevant" - Guardian|
|Number of Discs:||4 Discs|