Great Expectations – BBC announce Olivia Colman for their next Dickens

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The Oscar winner will become Miss Havisham for Steven Knight’s take on the classic tale. 

While the final television series of Peaky Blinders is set to debut at the end of February, the BBC have announced casting for another Steven Knight project. The writer is tackling another Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations, having previously brought A Christmas Carol to the screen in 2019.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of Great Expectations , it’s the coming-of-age story of an orphan nicknamed Pip. Dickens first released the tale in a series of weekly chapters, before it was published as a novel in 1860.

Olivia Colman leads the cast as Miss Havisham, while Fionn Whitehead (Black Mirror: Bandersnatch) plays the story’s protagonist Pip.

The wider cast includes Ashley Thomas, Johnny Harris, Shalom Brune-Franklin (The Tourist), Hayley Squires, Owen McDonnell, Trystan Gravelle and Matt Berry (Toast).

A darker take?

Steven Knight’s version of A Christmas Carol for the BBC in 2019, which starred Guy Pearce and Tom Hardy, was a dark and disturbing reimagining. He built up Scrooge’s backstory and made him quite the chilling villain in the present. A far cry from Michael Caine singing with The Muppets!

Here’s the trailer as a reminder:

The story Great Expectations has its darker moments too, especially in with the character of Magwitch, as well as being rich with Dickens’ characters. However it’s not fantastical, so it will be interesting to see quite what tone this adaptation adopts.

Interestingly, it’s only been eleven years since the BBC last took a crack at the story, with Douglas Booth as Pip and Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham. Not long after, Olivia Colman’s regal castmate Helena Bonham Carter also took on the role on the big screen, in an adaptation directed by Mike Newell.

Steven Knight is both writing and producing this six-part version. Executive producers are Tom Hardy, Ridley Scott, Dean Baker, David W. Zucker, Kate Crowe and Mona Qureshi for the BBC, the team behind A Christmas Carol.

Great Expectations is a co-production between the BBC and FX. We’re sure to hear more soon – what’s the betting on a Christmas transmission?

We’ll keep you posted.