Productions of Dickens novels have been a constant source of inspiration for television for decades, however the BBC drama series Dickensian takes the concept further by populating 19th century London with a multitude of characters from across Dickens’s novels. The first episodes of Dickensian saw Jacob Marley paying a visit to Little Nell in the Old Curiosity Shop, while Inspector Bucket came face-to-face with Fagin and Mrs Gamp tried to find her way to a job at the Three Cripples Inn.
The Charles Dickens Museum offers a tantalising glimpse behind the scenes of the new BBC drama series with a new exhibition that brings together fact and fiction. The Charles Dickens Museum is located at 48 Doughty Street, the London townhouse where Dickens completed The Pickwick Papers and wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. The exhibition weaves its way through the author’s own rooms with a number of costumes, props, production material and parts of the set that illustrate the complex art of creating a Dickensian London.
Among the highlights are a number of magnificent costumes created by BAFTA & EMMY award-winning costume designer, Andrea Galer, including those sported by Mrs Gamp (Pauline Collins), Mrs Bumble (Caroline Quentin), Sir Leicester Dedlock (Richard Cordery), Amelia Havisham (Tuppence Middleton) and Honoria Barbary (Sophie Rundle).
In the exhibition space, there is part of the set and a film showing various aspects of the series including how the 90-metre long cobbled Market Street set was created, overall there are 27 two-storey buildings on the street, fifteen of which contain working fireplaces, seven back alleys, nine working shops, twenty street lights and 103 windows. Throughout the museum there are production photographs and information about the cast and the characters.
If you are intrigued by the fictional world of Dickensian, a walk around the house will bring in touch with the reality of the great author’s life. The rooms are still filled with the furniture bought by Dickens and the Museum holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of Dickens-related objects. Visitors can admire the desk where he wrote Great Expectations and view original manuscripts of his great works, letters, personal items, paintings and photographs.
This intriguing and entertaining exhibition illustrates the continuing influence of Dickens in popular culture, Dickensian is the latest production attempting to recreate Dickensian London to entertain a modern audience. Although the exhibition will appeal to those who are interested in Dickens, there is plenty to entertain anyone with an interest in 19th London life.
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
If you would like further information about the exhibition, visit the Charles Dickens Museum website here
Dickensian: Behind the Scenes of the new BBC Drama at the Charles Dickens Museum
Dates: 19 January – 17 April 2016
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm (last admission 4pm). Closed on Mondays.
Museum admission prices: Adults £9; Concessions £6; Children (6-16) £4; Under 6 free.
Address: Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LX
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