Sunday, 11 June 2017
707 Bleak House
First viewed : 8 April 1985
This was the BBC's second adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, the first being broadcast in 1959. It was adapted into eight 50 minute parts by Arthur Hopcraft and broadcast on BBC2 on a Wednesday with a Sunday repeat.
The action begins when three young people, Esther, Ada and Richard go to live with their guardian John Jarndyce played by Denholm Elliott. All are in some way connected with an interminable legal case involving conflicting wills , Jarndyce v Jarndyce from which the wise and kindly John expects absolutely nothing and counsels his wards accordingly. Nearby live an aristocratic couple, the Dedlocks, also involved in the case. Lady Dedlock ( Diana Rigg ) is startled by the handwriting on a routine legal document which the family lawyer Tulkinghorn ( Peter Vaughan ) notices and decides to investigate. As usual with Dickens, there is a large cast of colourful supporting players played by the likes of Bernard Hepton, Frank Windsor and T P McKenna . The final episode is largely concerned with the disintegration of young Richard ( an early role for Darling Buds of May 's Philip Franks ) who casts off his guardian's advice and gets involved in the case.
I saw the first and final episodes but , again due to living in a hall of residence, only snatches of what came in between which was a shame because it looked very good. With a cast like that, it could hardly fail.
Why the Beeb decided to commission Andrew Davies to produce another version twenty years later I'm not quite sure.