It was a dark, bleak, Dickens-filled Christmas – and really rather captivating
It was a Dickens-heavy Christmas and all the better for it. By that, I don't mean the rosy confected one of bantering ho-hos and seething subterranean hypocrisies which Charles essentially invented. It was a dark, bleak, clever one, with ghostly waving branches and awkward truths – possibly rather suitable to end the year we've just had.
There was, of course, Great Expectations, over three grimly fabulous nights. You knew it was going to be good from the off, when a muddied Ray Winstone as Magwitch grabbed Pip's foot from under the bridge, those skies above the marshes a cloying grey shroud of claustrophobic tension. This segment seems to have been filmed so often, and not only in pastiches, that it's hard to think what new can be brought to it, but Winstone – a mix between a swamp monster, a bridge troll and Ray Winstone – found it. And no one else can utter the word "throat" – as in: "You scream again, boy, and I'll cut your frote" with quite such a love of the word.
They were all terrific, Oscar Kennedy as the young Pip, in particular; wise, vulnerable and principled beyond his years. But the memorable performance came from Gillian Anderson, playing Miss Havisham as far younger, prettier, more human – and, thus, given the cruel drive behind her manipulations, a hundred times more loopso than the usual "mad old woman" – than has ever been done, and making a triumph (and a touchstone for the future) of it. A brave, grey, splendid opener to the BBC's coming Dickens Year, for which there is now much hope.