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A bold reinvention of Charles Dickens' timeless novels, Dickensian takes familiar characters on new journeys as their stories intersect in the same world. Discover the events that lead up to Miss Havisham's wedding day (Great Expectations), the true sacrifices made by a young Lady Dedlock (Bleak House), what happens to ruthless moneylender Jacob Marley (A Christmas Carol), and more! You don't need to know Dickens' novels to fall in love with these stories - packed with romance, scandal and intrigue, they deliver a ride of twists and turns to the final episode.
It’s Christmas Eve and as the snow falls over Victorian London, the body of wealthy brewer, Mr Havisham, is driven to his final resting place. His daughter, Amelia, and son, Arthur, accompany him, and the townsfolk pause to watch.
One observer is money-lender, Jacob Marley, partner to Ebenezer Scrooge. Marley is visiting clients to collect their outstanding payments and nothing steers him from his brutal resolve. He visits the Old Curiosity Shop where Grandfather is tending to desperately ill, Little Nell. He visits Edward Barbary whose business has collapsed. He spreads fear and unhappiness wherever he goes. He concludes business for the day by arguing with Scrooge out in the street.
Meanwhile, in a dark damp den by the river, a fire creates a circle of warmth where the gang-master, Fagin, holds court. He’s organised for street girl, Nancy, to visit Marley tonight to “entertain” him. She’ll be guarded by house-breaker and ruffian, Bill Sikes. Nancy isn’t thrilled; she knows Marley of old but agrees to meet him later that night.
As night draws on, there is some real Christmas cheer in the poor household of Scrooge’s clerk; Bob Cratchit. He and his family have hardly enough money to live on but have scraped together enough to have a tiny feast tomorrow and there’s enough love amongst the Cratchits; Bob, his wife, Emily, and their children including Tiny Tim to keep their little house the warmest in London.
Back in the civilised world of the Havishams, the will is being read. Arthur, who had expected to inherit the brewery and all the family wealth, finds himself with only a small income. Everything is going to Amelia instead and Arthur is furious. He sends a message to an old friend…he has a plan.
Amelia Havisham is about to return home, saddened by her brother’s anger when he lurches out at her in the street. He bellows his rage at her and threatens to beat some humility into her…when, suddenly, a gentleman steps to her aid knocking Arthur to the ground. The stranger accompanies her home and takes her card promising to call again.
But later we realise with shock that this gentleman who fought Arthur to protect Amelia, is in fact Arthur’s friend, the man he asked to help him carry out his plan; Meriwether Compeyson.
As the night darkens we stop for a moment at an alleyway by the docks…where the dead, cold, body of Jacob Marley is discovered. Murdered.
Christmas Day dawns and there’s a stranger in Market St; Inspector Bucket.
He is a pioneer of the new idea in policing; a Detective, brought in to find out who killed Jacob Marley. His friend, the taxidermist, Mr Venus, provides a post mortem on the dead body – discovering a splinter of wood in a wound in the head.
He goes to visit an unseasonably inhospitable Scrooge to ask him about his partner and finds his journal in which, on the night of the murder, is written the letter “C” – Scrooge tells him this could refer to a money collection. It also shows he went to the Old Curiosity shop that day. Then there is the name “Nancy”.
At the Old Curiosity Shop, Little Nell has made a miraculous recovery and she and her Grandfather along with one-legged pub landlord, Silas Wegg, gin-soaked mid-wife, Mrs Gamp, and the local busy-body, Fanny Biggettywitch are having a pot-luck style lunch with a generous sideorder of gossip about the Inspector.
The Cratchits enjoy a thrifty but joyous day, crowded into the little house with John, fiancée of Martha the eldest daughter sharing their tiny goose.
The Barbarys is a more genteel affair, but far less happy. Severe daughter, Frances is blatantly jealous of her younger sister Honoria’s easy enjoyment of life..Honoria knows nothing of their financial ruin. She is seeing a dashing young soldier Captain Hawdon, and Frances with her strict religious views is openly disapproving.
Arthur Havisham is slumming it in rooms above the pub and Compeyson tells him he needs to trust the plan to win back what Arthur believes to be his due. Compeyson, with all his skill as a conartist will inveigle his way into Amelia’s trust by presenting himself as a mediary between the siblings.
However, when he turns up at Satis House and suggests this course of action to Amelia, she turns him away – she has no need of a stranger to solve her family problems. She has no need of any man.
Spurred on by the challenge she presents, Compeyson returns to Arthur. His ambition has grown…they are going to take Amelia Havisham for every penny she’s got.
Word is out about the murder and the local community speculate and gossip about who the villain might be. Scrooge, Marley’s partner, refuses to indulge Fanny in her love of gruesome detail. He is becoming suspicious that Edward Barbary can’t pay his debts, but coughs up more money to Arthur Havisham when he realises he has shares in the Brewery.
Bucket is following up details found in Marley’s journal. He knows from Scrooge and a name in the journal, that the murdered man saw “Nancy”, that night.
Bucket goes to see Fagin, who he knows of old, and asks him if he sent a girl called Nancy to Marley, and if he still uses Bill Sikes as protection for the girls? As Bucket puts the pressure on the old man, Fagin caves and gives Sikes address. Bucket gives him two days to send Nancy to the station.
A furious Sikes is duly arrested as a cosh is found in his room, and he’s slung in the cells to simmer down. But Venus has to dash Bucket’s hopes; the splinter from Marley’s head didn’t come from this weapon.
What’s more, Little Nell can vouch for her Grandfather’s presence by her sickbed at the time of the murder. Bucket’s list of suspects is getting shorter all the time…
Mrs Gamp has her eye on a home in the pub; The Three Cripples. Her strategy is to become indispensable as a nurse to one-legged landlord, Silas Wegg. She’ll get as many free gins as possible out of the arrangement along the way.
While Honoria and Captain James enjoy a carefree day out together, Frances Barbary is setting out to dash their hopes of marriage. A colleague of Hawdon’s brings a message to the house telling the Captain that he can secure his much needed promotion if he gets to the barracks by six that evening. Frances assures him that she’ll pass this on; but she burns the message and never says a word. When Honoria returns, Frances reveals to her the extent of the ruin the family are facing.
It’s the day of Marley’s funeral and Scrooge and Bob watch the hearse take Marley in his cheap coffin to his final resting place, a pauper’s grave. Bucket shares a pie with a stand-offish Nancy and asks her about her bruised face. She tells him it was Marley but he shouldn’t make much of it as that kind of thing happens all the time to girls like her and his sort never care. He swears he’ll change her mind about “his sort”. Relenting a little she divulges that she heard Marley arguing with Scrooge in the street. Now Bucket has a lead; but Jaggers, Scrooge’s lawyer, is scornful; most partnerships are acrimonious after a while. But Bucket has realised that Scrooge never provided the books he asked for…he thinks he’s on to something. It’s the day of the Havisham Annual New Year’s party for the brewery shareholders. Amelia is nervous about the scrutiny to come but her friend, Honoria, is supportive. Arthur reluctantly shows up for the party too, but when he does he is appalled to find Compeyson in his father’s study. Compeyson bullies Arthur; why did his father not leave the Brewery to him? What’s wrong with him? He is clearly touching a raw nerve with Arthur. He goes on to drive Amelia into a fury by telling her that he might attend a party organised by a woman, but would never invest in a business run by one. Frances is delighted to run into old acquaintance Sir Leicester Dedlock, a rich, elderly baronet, out with his nieces. They take tea together and Frances, flattered by his politeness to her, invites him to the house the next day. After leaving her, Dedlock takes the girls into Mantalinis Dress Shop and is devastated by the beauty that is Honoria modelling a fashionable ball gown. Asking for her name he is amazed to find she is Frances’ sister. At the Cratchit house all is activity. Martha’s wedding is tomorrow and there’s a little party to get ready, dresses to be trimmed, shoes polished…Bob and Emily may not have much but they’re the happiest couple alive.
Bucket takes Marley’s ledger from a surly Scrooge, and goes to visit Venus who is helping him with his bad back. Then he pores over the names of the creditors looking for clues. Arthur returns to his rooms, startled to find Compeyson there. Compeyson realising that Arthur is concerned by his sexuality, bullies him provocatively. Compeyson then pretends to be an old friend of Hawdon’s in order to get close to Amelia again at the New Year’s Day fair. But Miss Havisham is aloof after his behaviour at the party the night before. With psychotic cunning, Compeyson goes on to furtively throw her little dog, Jip, under the wheels of a cart before publicly rescuing him. Compeyson tells Amelia he is out of his depth and could drown in her. Edward Barbary is making a gamble that he can retrieve stranded textile stock out in the East Indies by borrowing money from Scrooge to bring the silks to London. Scrooge agrees to the loan on the condition that the Barbary House stands as collateral. Frances has prepared for tea with Sir Leicester. She wears a lace collared dress, even a dab of scent borrowed from her sister, and is supressing girlish excitement. It is a cruel blow to her then, when he asks her if she can help with an introduction to her sister, Honoria. It’s the day of Martha Cratchit’s wedding and Emily goes to wait by the church with the family and other guests. Bob stays at the house with his beautiful young daughter just about to start her adult life. A moving moment. They are just about to leave for the ceremony when a knock comes at the door. It is Bucket. He has come to arrest Bob Cratchit for the murder of Jacob Marley.
Martha can only watch as Bob Cratchit is taken away to be questioned over the murder of Jacob Marley. The rest of the Crathit family plus Martha’s groom, John Bagnet, wait expectantly at the Church little knowing the peril Bob is in. In the interview room Bucket outlines his case – Bob Cratchit had motive, means and opportunity and no alibi. When it’s revealed that Cratchit crossed off the debt he owed Marley after his death he calls Scrooge in to support his case. On going through his ledgers Scrooge admits that Cratchit had transferred the debt and in fact made it a little larger – but it still doesn’t change the fact he altered the books. Bob pleads with Bucket to let him at least see his daughter married; following his instinct that Bob might not be the killer – he lets him go. A very relieved Martha is taken to Church and married to John Bagnet with Emily still unaware of what has taken place. Reminiscing about the moment Compeyson spoke of drowning in her, Amelia is startled to find he is at her door. Far from repeating his words, Compeyson tells Amelia he will never utter such words again and hopes that she will forgive him for saying them in the first place. He leaves a very confused Amelia. Spurred on by Honoria, Amelia writes to Compeyson on the pretence of talking business. Compeyson is delighted that he’s so piqued her interest but when he arrives at Satis House later that day he finds Amelia with her dear cousin Matthew Pocket and she has no time to speak to Compeyson. Bob returns to the police station after the wedding, but having got the truth out of her daughter, Emily is soon after him. Emily makes an impassioned plea to Bucket to believe Bob’s innocence and also provides him with an alibi for the time of the murder. Bucket lets Bob go – for now but he’s sure that Emily has lied for him and wonders why. Frances introduces Honoria to Sir Leicester Dedlock but Honoria is horrified to find out he is intended for her. She reminds Frances she only has eyes for her Captain.
Compeyson is riled by the arrival of Matthew Pocket and quizzes Arthur over his cousin. Arthur tells him Matthew is no threat at all until they learn that Amelia has asked Matthew to put off his travels to help her run the business. A drunken night in the pub ends up with Compeyson challenging Matthew to some dares. Matthew eagerly accepts and suggests they jump from one roof top to another. Compeyson sees his chance and dislodges a tile and when Matthew slips he leaves him hanging from the roof. A horrified Arthur looks on before rushing to help Matthew. Before he can, Compeyson pushes him out of the way and pulls Matthew to safety. Matthew is immensely grateful for him saving his life but Arthur has seen a different side to Compeyson – he was trying to kill him. While helping Emily Cratchit drop some pies at the Three Cripples, Bucket spots some stolen brandy behind the bar. Constable Duff informs him the brandy went missing on the docks on Christmas Eve and a little searching reveals that Silas Wegg has a history of assault – using his wooden leg as a weapon. Seeing what’s coming Silas tries to make a run for it, but Bucket overtakes him. Fearful of being charged with something worse than theft, Silas reveals he did see Jacob Marley on Christmas Eve and he was having a row with a gentleman with a badge of a red flower on his lapel. Bucket has seen that badge earlier that day on the coat of Edward Barbary and it turns out that Barbary paid back part of his loan two days after Marley’s death – did he use the money from Jacob Marley’s missing wallet to do it? Frances invites Sir Leicester Dedlock to tea in order to further her plan to marry him off to Honoria. Honoria unexpectedly returns home with Captain Hawdon in tow and Frances has to lie that their father is unwell to get rid of him. Honoria is surprised to find her father fit and well and in the company of Sir Leicester Dedlock. She is polite and leaves and it’s up to Frances to convince Sir Leicester of Honoria’s interest. Mrs Bumble writes to the board of the workhouse in her husband’s name to invite him to dinner – she is determined they will be raised up.
After seeing Compeyson’s murderous intentions the night before, Arthur is a gibbering wreck, hiding in his room as Compeyson knocks on his door and then starting to pack his clothes, determined to get away. When Matthew comes round to see him his relief is so great he begins to tell him the truth of his situation. However, before he can get Compeyson’s name out the man himself walks into the room and takes charge of the situation. He quickly covers that Arthur is in enormous debt to Scrooge and offers to settle his debts for him. Matthew is impressed again by Compeyson and Arthur has lost his chance to confide. Over lunch at Satis House Compeyson realises that Matthew is in love with Miss Havisham though it is unrequited. Taking Matthew to one side he reveals he knows his secret and also how he can win Miss Havisham’s love – he must become like her father and there is no better way to do that than continue his travels, which were in fact paid for by Mr Havisham, and make something of himself in America. Impressed by Compeyson’s confidence and knowledge of the world, Matthew believes him and reluctantly tells Amelia he will not be able to stay and help her. As Matthew departs, Jip bites Compeyson clearly not having forgiven him for his alleged rescue. Compeyson covers his anger but later Jip is revealed to be missing. Compeyson walks by the river, something concealed in his coat. He pulls out a bag which lets out a small whimper before he drops it in to the river. Bucket comes to interview Barbary – what was he doing rowing with Jacob Marley on Christmas Eve. Barbary is forced to reveal he was at the docks to sell his wife’s engagement ring to pay off part of his debt. From his description it is clear he sold the ring to Fagin. Bucket goes round to see Fagin who confirms Barbary’s story but puts his own alibi in jeopardy. Bucket returns to Barbary and when Frances backs up his alibi by confirming they had carol singers that night and she has a record of what they were paid, Bucket crosses him off his list. However Fagin is getting closer in his sights. Relieved that his name is cleared Barbary looks to a brighter future before being told that all the stock he was expecting has been claimed by his creditors. He is completely ruined. Bill wants to take Nancy away from Fagin and her work as a prostitute. He offers Fagin five pounds but Fagin demands fifty. Mrs Gamp tells Silas a hair raising story to persuade him he shouldn’t live alone.
Jaggers urges Barbary to make a plan but he refuses to believe all hope is lost and sets out to talk to all his previous business associates in the hope of getting a number of small loans. Honoria invites Captain Hawdon to tea determined to erase any thought of Sir Leicester as a suitor. Scrooge tells Barbary that if he can’t pay by the end of the day he will think nothing of sending him to debtor’s prison. During a very tense tea where Barbary challenges Hawdon as a suitor the bailiffs arrive to take Barbary away. Honoria and Frances are bereft. Devastated by the loss of Jip Amelia is amazed then horrified by Compeyson’s callousness when he arrives with a puppy. Compeyson feigns ignorance – the puppy was simply a gift for his god daughter, he had no idea Jip was missing. Compeyson acts hurt that Miss Havisham should think so little of him and reveals that she occupies his every waking thought but he was unwilling to confess this to her before as he had had his heart terribly broken. Moved by his story, Amelia promises to never hurt him and they kiss. Bucket questions Nancy and Dodger hoping to further break Fagin’s alibi – but their loyalty is unwavering. Pressure mounts on Bucket when a reward poster goes up. Mrs Gamp moves in with Silas hoping to get her hands on his gin. Silas thinks she’s there for an altogether different purpose and leaps on her in bed during her afternoon nap. Mrs Gamp is horrified - in fact only a stiff drink can calm her nerves. Mrs Bumble spends a fortune making their home look presentable for Mr Gradgrind’s visit Peter is determined to buy Nell the comb she loves for her birthday.
Compeyson is now officially courting Amelia Havisham and again demands cash from Arthur to make himself seem more credible as a suitor. Arthur is driven to selling some personal family items to obtain the money and with some drink inside him is becoming both more angry and more emboldened about being exploited like this. He goes to Satis House and very nearly gives the game away in front of Compeyson and Amelia but Compeyson deflects Amelia’s concern onto her brother’s drunkenness rather than what he’s saying. Later that night, Compeyson teaches Arthur a cruel lesson with a severe whipping. Frances is still pestering Honoria that the only way to save the family is to enter an arranged marriage with Sir Leicester, but Honoria, determined, sets out with Captain Hawdon to try and solve her father’s debt problems by other means. Downhearted by their failure they visit the debtor’s prison where she finds her father a broken man. The sisters are momentarily united in grief for their father. Inspector Bucket continues to investigate Marley’s death and is concentrating on the “C” in his diary. Emily Cratchit lets him know that Bob had told her about a warehouse owned by Marley called “Crouchers”. Bucket is thrilled..this could be the lead he’s been waiting for. Meanwhile the Bumbles entertain Mr Gradgrind, Bumble’s boss. When he asks for seconds of her spotted dick Mrs Bumble thinks a new position is in the bag. Back at the Cratchit’s, Bob and Emily are increasingly worried about Tim and at the Den, Sikes brings some cash to Fagin..he’ll buy Nancy’s “freedom” if it’s the last thing he does.
As Arthur recovers from his beating last night, Compeyson warns him this is what will happen if he spoils everything now. Remember, he says, seductively..this is how he will once more become master of Satis House. Compeyson is also trying to win over Amelia – this time to let him into her business decisions. But she proves resistant. Her father left her this brewery and that shows he trusts her. Honoria visits her father at the prison once more and he tells her the debts are simply increasing. Honoria feels the pressure is too great and tells Frances that she will meet Sir Leicester – anything to save her father from that place. Honoria is forced to break off her relationship with Hawdon and slaps him in the face when he calls her a whore for courting Sir Leicester’s money. That evening Edward arrives home - saved by Sir Leicester. Frances’ plan has worked and the family are safe while Honoria has a broken heart. Inspector Bucket checks with Jaggers that there is a Crouchers warehouse and the lawyer is forced to admit that there is such a building purchased by Marley down by the docks. Bucket goes to watch outside the grim looking place and his patience pays off when he sees Fagin leaving the building. The Bumbles are beside themselves with the news that a new workhouse in Staffordshire has opened - double the salary, a better house and a maid! All they need to do now is to convince the Board that the two of them are right for the job. The Cratchits are increasingly worried about Tim while Silas Wegg at the pub, is increasingly weary of Mrs Gamp’s generous hand with the gin.
It’s the day of an important shareholders meeting for Amelia and she informs Jaggers that Compeyson will also be at the meeting overlooking his discomfort at the situation and claiming he will be there to make Arthur behave. Before Compeyson can get to the meeting, however, he’s waylaid by his wife Sally who thinks he has some explaining to do. Compeyson tells Arthur to delay the meeting while he tries to calm an irate Sally. He eventually persuades Sally of the benefits of him going to the meeting but arrives to discover it’s over and Amelia is buoyed from having been a tremendous success. Even Arthur is wowed by his sister’s confidence. Compeyson realises he has to do something extraordinary to win Amelia round and takes the engagement ring from his sleeping wife before proposing to Amelia and being accepted. Bucket and his men storm into Crouchers Warehouse and discover it full of malnourished boys. Fagin arrives immediately afterwards and Bucket arrests him sure he now has something to link him to Jacob Marley and therefore his murder. Peter is determined to buy Nell the comb she covets for her birthday but when he discovers his mother crying about Tim’s illness and their financial inability to help him he gives the money to her making her cry all the harder. Silas feels Mrs Gamp has had one gin too many and shows her the door.
Honoria is surprised at work by Amelia who reveals she wants to buy a wedding dress. With the loss of Hawdon still raw, Honoria is forced to model potential wedding dresses for her friend. She gently tries to warn Amelia that she has known Compeyson very briefly might she be rushing into this? But Amelia can’t see beyond her own happiness. Amelia shares her news with Arthur and Jaggers both of whom join with Honoria to warn her off such a hasty marriage. Every rejection makes Amelia more determined that she will marry Compeyson and she will be happy. After Amelia leaves Honoria pens a letter and sends it with the Boy – is it to Captain Hawdon? At the end of the day Frances visits Honoria and reveals that Sir Leicester was the recipient of Honoria’s note and has accepted an invitation to supper. Honoria suddenly collapses. Worried for her sister Frances finds Mrs Gamp who reveals Honoria is expecting a baby. Bucket knows he is running out of reasons to keep Fagin in prison. In the Three Cripples he stands next to Compeyson at the bar and suddenly spots his wallet with the distinctive markings JM for Jacob Marley. Compeyson reveals he bought the wallet from the Old Curiosity shop and Nell tells Bucket she got the wallet from Fagin. Bucket returns to the prison and delights in telling Fagin his new piece of evidence. Fagin wastes no time in telling him who stole the wallet - it was Dodger. Peter’s money buys Tiny Tim a bottle of revolting medicine but no one is in any doubt that it is not a permanent cure. Mrs Gamp takes matters into her own hands when she tries to injure Silas’ leg – sadly she gets the wrong leg and Silas is left needing a carpenter.
Bucket needs to get to Dodger before any of Fagin’s cronies can. Using Nancy, Bucket asks her to get Dodger to the Three Cripples. When Dodger arrives he is greeted by Bucket and arrested for Marley’s murder, Nancy is devastated by what she has done and all the trust she had for Bucket has gone. Despite learning that Fagin has betrayed him Dodger remains resolutely loyal much to Bucket’s frustration. Nancy persuades Bill to break Dodger out of prison and in return Dodger tells him where Fagin keeps all his cash, Bill tells Dodger to run and keep on running. Honoria is delighted about her pregnancy – now she can no longer marry Sir Leicester and she calls Hawdon over to the house to tell him the good news. Frances is faced with yet more family shame but when she meets Sir Leicester tells him that Honoria is away with a sick relative but begged to be kept in his thoughts – maybe all is not lost. A blissfully happy Amelia and Compeyson bump into Arthur who is beaten and bruised having been set upon by thieves. Compeyson promises Amelia he will try to help Arthur and follows him to his rooms. Seeming entirely sincere Compeyson tells Arthur that he has realised Amelia is more than a match for him, he doesn’t think he will get any money from her but he could persuade her to buy Arthur’s share of the brewery at an inflated price and then it will all be over. Desperate to claw his way out of the trouble he is in Arthur accepts. Compeyson then persuades Amelia to agree to the deal. When Amelia and Arthur have signed the paperwork in Jaggers office Arthur begs Compeyson to be gentle with Amelia when he lets her down - Compeyson looks confused – let’s her down? He’s marrying her. Arthur has been played again. Mr Bumble has his interview for his new post. It is an utter disaster the final straw coming when Bucket’s new snug suit splits from top to bottom. Mr Venus provides Tiny Tim with a new crutch and aware of his family’s extreme financial difficulties Peter tells Nell he can no longer see her again.
Hawdon secretly visits Honoria for a good luck kiss before his interview to achieve promotion – it seems everything is going their way. Frances successfully keeps the myth of Honoria visiting the country alive with both Sir Leicester and Amelia and tells Sir Leicester Honoria has written him a note which he will receive soon. Honoria is convinced Frances has only her best interests at heart and is stunned when Hawdon arrives having discovered that Frances scuppered his first chance of promotion. Frances is unable to deny her actions and a full blown row erupts. Honoria begs Hawdon to leave; she will sort this out with her sister. Honoria tries to contain her temper for the sake of her unborn child but when she discovers a note to Sir Leicester forged by Frances in her name she can no longer contain herself. She packs a case and rushes to the door with Frances desperately trying to stop her. As they row Honoria’s waters break. The baby is coming but it’s far too soon. Arthur receives the money from selling his share of the brewery. Amelia genuinely hopes it will make him happy and in his guilt Arthur begs that she doesn’t marry Compeyson though is unable to tell her why. Jaggers also expresses doubts about Compeyson which Amelia refuses to listen to. Jaggers then secretly asks his clerk to look into Compeyson’s history. Arthur reminds Compeyson that he is married and threatens to tell Amelia so. Worried by everyone’s doubts Amelia questions Compeyson who bowls her over with love and affection and a wish to marry her as soon as possible. Feeling reassured Amelia leaves to buy Compeyson a gift for the wedding. On the way back she passes Compeyson leaving his wife, Sally’s lodgings and sees them embracing. She is devastated. Another body is discovered and in a show of no confidence in Bucket’s detecting skills, Inspector Thompson is sent in to take over the case. Although Bucket is convinced both murders were committed by different killers Thompson arrests a man within hours and beats a confession out of him for the two murders. Bucket is forced to let Fagin go but is galvanised anew after a conversation with Bucket. The devil is in the detail and he will find the devil. Mr Bumble’s interview was a disaster but he is given a second chance - his workhouse will be inspected in two weeks time. Fagin returns from prison to find Bill Sikes with a bag of cash for Nancy. Fagin knows the money was his but as Bill stands with a snarling Bullseye his power is all too clear.
Honoria Barbary is going into labour. Her waters break just as she is planning to leave the family home, stranding her at her most vulnerable with her older sister Frances. Edward Barbary isn’t at home and the maid has the day off so the two girls are entirely alone. Not knowing the first thing about childbirth but with an innate sense of practicality, Frances gets Honoria up to bed and prepares towels and hot water. For once she relents to Honoria’s request to contact Captain Hawdon and sends a note via a messenger boy to find him and ask him to bring a doctor. The boy finds Hawdon in the pub, drunk and loudly bemoaning his lot. When he takes the note from the boy, hearing it’s from Frances he throws it straight on the fire without reading it. Back at the house, emotions are running high as the intensity of the crisis brings out all the supressed feelings between the two sisters. The jealousy and hidden love all spill out. Suddenly the baby is born, but tragically, there is no cry of life. Frances has to tell her grief-stricken sister that the baby - a little girl - has been born dead. Frances takes the child away wrapped in linen, but once out of earshot of Honoria, the baby utters a tiny bleat…she’s alive! Frances is about to rush upstairs with her, when something inside her makes her stop. Instead, she wraps the child warmly and places her in a basket and shuts her inside the linen closet. This is her secret.
Inspector Bucket has officially been taken off the case of Jacob Marley’s murder, but before he goes back to his old station, he is determined to have one last shot at solving the conundrum. He walks back over the route from Marley’s house to where his body was found, accompanied by his friend Mr Venus. They discuss the possibilities of what type of person the murderer might be. Mr Bucket has a new and increasingly tempting theory. Tthis killer was not a criminal or a thug, but probably just a scared victim of Marley’s punishing debt collecting process. All he has that is concrete though, is the splinter from the weapon that killed him. Meriwether doesn’t know that Amelia saw him kissing his wife Sally and so arrives blithely at Satis House and is shocked at his frosty reception. When Arthur discovers that Meriwether is in trouble, he’s thrilled. Perhaps how he can go back and be reconciled with Amelia. But as ever, things turn to Compeyson’s favour as Amelia turns up at their lodgings only to find that Sally is claiming to be Meriwether’s sister. Emotionally she forgives Compeyson and they leave together for Satis House. Arthur turns up with a gift of a pineapple for his sister, but nearly stumbles on her in bed with Compeyson. Hawdon has picked himself up from the drunken excesses of last night and rushes to the Barbary House, intending to propose to Honoria right then and there. But he finds her a shadow of herself. She tells him about their dead child, Esther Frances, and how now everything must be over between them. Meanwhile, Frances hating herself but having resolved on this course of action, hands the baby girl over to anonymous hands telling them to take care of her. At the pub, Bucket is about to eat one of his favourite pies from Emily, when for the first time his attention is drawn to the raised shape in the surface of the pastry. It matches exactly the shape of the splinter…arriving at the Cratchits with heavy heart he finds Emily alone. Showing her the place on the rolling pin where the splinter fits, he tells her that when Bob comes home he will have to arrest him for murder. Emily stares at him in horror. No, she tells him. Don’t arrest Bob…it was me.
Seconds after Emily’s revelation, Bob walks in. Emily quickly sends him out again on an errand to the pub allowing her to tell Bucket the events of Christmas Eve leading up to Marley’s death. She had gone to find him to plead with him not to dock Bob’s wages. The family were desperately poor, she said and with Martha’s wedding and Christmas, all the expenses were coming at once. But Marley had laughed, threatened to take the children into servitude as payment and started to assault her. That was when she lashed out with the rolling pin. It was a defensive blow, meant to keep him off, she hadn’t known he was dead. Bucket is put off his stride. He has solved the crime by brilliant detection, but what he’s unearthed is a victim who will, by law, hang as a killer. Kind wife and mother, Emily Cratchit. He visits Manning, the man that Thompson has arrested for the crime. Manning, who freely admits to several murders is pretty vague about the names of his victims. Ultimately, Inspector Bucket follows his moral instinct. He knows Emily is truly innocent, and after swearing her to secrecy, lets her go free. Arthur Havisham is devastated and fears he has lost any chance of reconciling with his sister. He is also stricken with guilt at setting her up with Compeyson. When out of the blue, his possible salvation arrives..Matthew Pocket back from America and determined to prevent Amelia’s doomed wedding .
It is the day before the Havisham Wedding and Satis House is being prepared by an overexcited Amelia. All must be perfect. Arthur distracts Compeyson at the pub and Mathew arrives at Satis House with members of the board of the brewery to tell Amelia she is about to hand the Havisham business and fortune to a crook. Amelia speaks to Matthew alone – what is he doing? She knows everything about the man he loves and he is no conman. Compeyson, sensing he’s being detained, bursts in on Mathew and Amelia. He tells Amelia that naturally Mathew would try to stop the wedding..he is in love with her himself! Matthew can’t deny it. Compeyson plays a high risk game declaring himself fed up with all the suspicions around him. He calls off the wedding. Amelia in huge distress disowns Arthur, Mathew and everybody else. She trusts nobody, she declares except Compeyson. The wedding is back on. They will be together. As the Bumbles prepare for the arrival of the board Mrs Bumble promises Mr Bumble there may be more than just a promotion in it for him if they’re successful. The board arrive and the scrubbed, schooled children behave perfectly. Until that is the little boy brought in by Bucket comes up with his bowl and asks Bumble “please sir, I want some more” . The horrified faces of the Bumbles and the board say it all. After the board leaves, Bumble throws the little boy into the street. Edward, thinking Honoria should move on from the loss of her baby has arranged for Sir Leicester to visit. He tells Honoria this could be the moment he proposes..if that is what she wants. For once, Honoria turns on her father spelling out that he and Frances are effectively whoring her for the sake of the money her marriage will bring. Ultimately though, she knows they all depend on her and she agrees to the proposition. She will be Lady Dedlock.
Remembering his cousin’s words that only Amelia’s father could save her now, Arthur is determined to finally become the man his father intended him to be. He goes to see Fagin and acquires the services of Bill Sikes then sends a note to Compeyson asking him to meet him in his rooms. When Compeyson arrives he is greeted by Sikes in his most aggressive form and Jaggers. Arthur tells him that the only thing Compeyson had over him was the threat of Amelia discovering his involvement in the plot. He no longer cares and tells Sikes to spread the truth far and wide. He offers Compeyson the ten thousand pounds they got for his share in the brewery but in return he must write to Amelia and explain everything he has done to win her love. He must deliver the note personally. Compeyson tries to talk his way out of the situation but Arthur is resolute. Amelia Havisham is resplendent in her wedding dress and pauses to take her ill fitting shoe off as she walks down the stairs when Arthur, Jaggers and Compeyson arrive. As Compeyson hands her the letter Amelia’s world falls to pieces. Compeyson tells her that everything in the letter is true but that now he has genuinely fallen in love with her and wants only to be her husband – he begs her to forgive him. Amelia tells him he has spoiled everything and shamed her. She tells him to leave. Arthur confirms that Compeyson has left and is hopeful that their relationship can resume. Amelia tells Arthur she doesn’t have a brother and tells him and everyone to leave. She will stay dressed as she is until her heart is healed. Devastated anew by the loss of his sister Arthur stands on the rooftops and contemplates his fate. Honoria asks Frances to bury a necklace with her daughter. Later we see Frances take the necklace and hand it to Jaggers asking him to make sure the little girl has it. Dodger returns and comes across the cold and frightened boy thrown out by the Bumbles. He tells Dodger his name is Oliver Twist – Dodger tells him to come with him, he knows a gent who’ll look out for him.