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BBC lines up 'bold' new Great Expectations for Christmas

Story by Jack Foley

BBC1 is to screen a “bold” new version of Charles Dickens’ classic novel Great Expectations at Christmas (2011).

The three-part series is being written by Sarah Phelps, who adapted Oliver Twist for the channel in 2007.

It will mark the first new version of Dickens’ novel since 1999 (which starred Ioan Gruffudd as Pip and Charlotte Rampling as Miss Havisham), although the Beeb has previously made it in 1959, 1967 and 1981.

According to a BBC spokeswoman, the new version will “give us the heart and guts of Dickens at his very best”.

Great Expectations is one of five new dramas commissioned for 2011 by Danny Cohen, the newly appointed BBC One controller.

Another is Call The Midwife, an adaptation of Jennifer Worth’s best-selling memoir, which is being completed by Heidi Thomas, the writer of Cranford and the BBC’s recent Upstairs, Downstairs remake.

Bound, meanwhile, is a six-episode series about a group of women with husbands in prison, while Morton follows the exploits of a female spy and four-part drama One Night will tell the story of a different character each week.

Commenting on the new line-up, Cohen said he hoped they would “begin to express the range and creative ambition” of the channel’s drama output.

The Christmas broadcast of Dickens’ Great Expectations is particularly timely as next year (2012) marks the 200th anniversary of the author’s birth.

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