Interview: Kate Crowe & Dean Baker (Executive Producers on Great Expectations) — Premieres March 26

Ashley Thomas on set filming in Great Expectations (Image: BBC/FX Networks/Miya Mizuno)

"Steve’s version of  Miss Havisham is not a gothic masterpiece stuffed away in a dusty room."

[Published: 21 March 2023]



Why was Great Expectations a story that you wanted to tell?
DB: We spoke about doing Oliver Twist or A Tale of Two Cities, but ultimately we settled on doing this as a second Dickens. I think partly because it feels so relevant today.

KC: It really taps into themes that are there in Steve's writing in his other works. He looks at things like class and social mobility and, in this version, the time that it's set, the way that empire and commerce has affected and shaped London, for example, are all things that very much interest Steve.

DB: Steve was the son of a blacksmith so I think it has a special relevance to him.  He's such a fan of Dickens and  then coming from that world there are  parallels between him and Pip.

How does this version differ from versions we've seen before?

KC: It starts off faithfully with young Pip and the famous meeting in the graveyard. And really it's from episode two onwards you start to feel Steve's take on the material. He’s a huge, huge Dickens fan and what he can do is look at the story with the benefit of hindsight. We've seen massive changes that post-date Dickens who was writing towards the end of the Industrial Revolution and was interested in the way that society  changes and the way people are able to leave and move on or not and Steve examines all that but from a modern standpoint.

DB: Steve does these a forensic reads of the text and he tries to interpret what he thinks Dickens would write if he was writing that novel now. So it's definitely a fresh and bold approach.

What does Fionn bring to the role of Pip?

KC: He brought a real authenticity and honesty to the part and you really feel for Pip and his journey through London and his eventual downfall. It really hits hard. He's a terrific actor.

Tell us about Miss Havisham and what Olivia what brings to the role?

KC: Steve’s version of  Miss Havisham is not a gothic masterpiece stuffed away in a dusty room. She is very human and very flawed. Olivia’s performance captures all this, she’s  cruel, funny, witty, vulnerable. It’s a brilliant performance, of course.

DB: Steve examines her mental illness in a way that's never really been done before, it  feels so much more truthful. She is obviously a fragile character to begin with but then when she was left at the altar it had a profound impact on the course of her life.

Can you speak about Shalom Brune-Franklin as Estella?

DB: I think Shalom is hugely talented. It was so exciting for us to work with her.  I think what she brings to the role is a truthfulness. She’s just astoundingly good in the scenes she has with Olivia Colman.

Can you tell us about Ashley Thomas' Jaggers?

DB: To have an actor like Ashley play such a powerful role in a period drama just feels very exciting and it's something we haven't really seen before.

Tell us about the collaboration between directors Brady Hood and Samira Radsi?

DB: I've known Brady for several years and it was really exciting to finally get a production away with him. When Brady came to us with his vision for it was just really it felt so personal to him. He’s bought an enormous depth to the story and a personal insight – and he's a really lovely human being.

KC: We were aware of Samira from her work on Deutschland 83 and it was fantastic to have a female viewpoint for the last two episodes. And also because Samira is not British, having somebody else look at the British class system at that time was very interesting.

Can you talk about the partnership with Tom Hardy and Ridley Scott?

KC: Obviously Ridley is an icon of cinema so having his input and his lens on things is always really invaluable.

DB: It was great to have Ridley read the scripts and get his thoughts, as well as being across the casting and director selection. It’s a privilege to have both Ridley and Tom as part of our creative team.

Are there any other stories you'd like to explore with them?

DB: Currently we are working on a second season of Taboo, and hopefully we will get to explore more Dickens with Steve, Ridley and Tom.

How important is the relationship with FX and the BBC?

DB: We were extremely lucky to have FX and BBC as creative partners on both Great Expectations and a Christmas Carol. Both FX and the BBC at all times have been nothing but hugely passionate, supportive and excited about the show.


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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