Interview with Ashley Thomas (Mr Jaggers) in Great Expectations - Premieres on Sunday, March 26

March 26 Arriving on Hulu in the U.S. and BBC One and BBC iPlayer from Sunday, March 26

(Image: BBC/FX Networks/Pari Dukovic)

Published: 21 March 2023



Do you remember the first time you read the story and the impact it had on you?
Being honest, the first time I heard of Great Expectations properly was just in passing. However, the first time I dived into it was when I took on the role of Mr Jaggers. I had always wanted to get involved in this era and I felt like this was the right chance to do it. I did some Dickens in secondary school actually, we did Oliver Twist. I played the Artful Dodger and there are some old pictures of me. It’s me with the top hat and the tail coat when I'm like 15 years old. So it’s cool to transition into this time as an adult and dive into the world of Dickens.

Tell us about working with Fionn?

Working with Fionn Whitehead has been very interesting. He is a really talented actor and we have been getting along on set. He likes to play his music from his little speaker and I love music as well. We have been really catching a vibe and laughing, making jokes and just enjoying each other’s company. I think that rings through on screen. Even though, at first, the characters are at odds, they come together and get closer and our relationship off screen starts to show on screen. There is a comfortability between us that is shining through.

What is different about this interpretation?

What makes this version different is the casting choices – they have really thought outside of the box. People can see themselves in a piece like this where they may have been excluded previously just because of the nature of the way the world was at the time. London at that time was a melting pot of different cultures. You had people from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, even before the Windrush era. I think it is important that these shows show that representation. I don’t think it’s about being woke, it’s just about being accurate to the time. This team have really endeavoured to make that happen.

Even in the book, Jaggers is described as a burly man and of exceedingly dark complexion, so it’s interesting the casting choice that they have gone with on this occasion.Representation is key and that’s across the board, whether that’s where someone is from, their sexual orientation, or religious background. It’s more true to life and better for the authenticity of projects. I don’t think we should shy away from that. We should embrace it where we can, where possible, and where it makes sense.


Coming to BBC One and BBC iPlayer from Sunday 26 March.

The six-part limited series will premiere on March 26 exclusively on Hulu in the U.S. and feature the first two episodes on that date.

Source BBC One

March 26, 2023 3:00am ET by BBC One  


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