In this special documentary, Professor Jon Mee explores the life and works of Charles Dickens and his enduring legacy. Professor Mee meets with various experts to discuss Dickens – the author, the public performer, the activist, the celebrity, the boy and the family man. Our experts also read their favourite passages from his novels.
In this special documentary, Professor Jon Mee explores the life and works of Charles Dickens and his enduring legacy, 200 years since his birth. Jon meets with various experts to discuss Dickens – the author, the public performer, the activist, the celebrity, the boy and the family man. Our experts also read their favourite passages from his novels.
Dickens’ great-great-great-granddaughter, Lucinda Hawksley discusses Dickens’ childhood, relationships, family and how his personal life influenced his work. University of Warwick researchers Dr Pablo Mukherjee and Professor Gary Watt talk to Professor Mee about crime, law and order while historian Dr Sarah Richardson discusses Dickens’ representations of Victorian Britain.
Professor Mee also explores Dickens’ London and visits some key locations that were significant to Dickens during his lifetime including Seven Dials, Smithfield Market, Bleeding Heart Yard and 48 Doughty Street – once Dickens home, and now home to the Charles Dickens Museum. Here he meets Professor Bob Patten, Scholar in Residence at the Museum to reflect on Dickens’ London.
At Smithfield Market Professor Mee considers its historical role and influence on Dickens’ work, described by Pip as “a shameful place all a-smear with filth and fat and blood and foam”. In Bleeding Heart Yard, where some of the key scenes of Little Dorrit take place, Warwick PhD student Gabrielle Mearns looks at Dickens the philanthropist and his role in setting up a reforming house for women released from prison.
Professor Mee also talks to Andrew Davies, Warwick honorary graduate, author and award-winning screenwriter, about his highly acclaimed adaptations of Bleak House and Little Dorrit for the BBC. Andrew Davies reveals that his adaptations borrow some ideas from the TV soap Eastenders – from the cliff-hanger endings, to the social nature of Albert Square.
The programme also looks at Dickens’ literary techniques and the unusual serialisation of his work, the comedy and the darkness in his novels as well as the influence of the morgue, child mortality, suffering, poverty and disease in the city.
As we celebrate 200 years of Dickens, his popularity continues to grow and he continues to mean different things for many different people all over the world - historians, scholars, literary critics, screenwriters and his most important critics of all, his readers.
The Celebrating Dickens Documentary was nominated for two Learning on Screen Awards 2013 from the British Universities Film and Video Council. In April 2013, the documentary won the Learning on Screen 'Education In-House Production' award.