Dickens TV series from Peaky Blinders creator adds anti-empire message to author's work

18 March 2023, 18:57

Olivia Colman stars as Miss Havisham in the upcoming adaptation
Olivia Colman stars as Miss Havisham in the upcoming adaptation. Picture: BBC

By Adam Solomons

A new adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations includes an anti-colonial message not found in the iconic Victorian novel.

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Criminal Magwitch (played by Johnny Harris) says the British Empire was "built on the lies of privileged white men", according to the Telegraph.

The six-part series, which premieres on March 26, is written and created by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight.

Actor Fionn Whitehead, who plays Pip, told the newspaper: "The Empire was a horrible thing which involved a lot of British people going out and enslaving, pillaging and destroying a lot of cultures around the world.

“If there’s anyone walking around believing that the Empire was a great thing they are clearly kidding themselves.”

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Shalom Brune-Franklin co-stars as Estella in the series
Shalom Brune-Franklin co-stars as Estella in the series. Picture: BBC

Dickens' 1861 novel, his second-to-last book, has already been turned into seven films and five TV series.

But Knight's version is thought to be the grittiest yet.

It also stars Oscar winner Olivia Colman as Miss Havisham and Shalom Brune-Franklin as Estella.

Knight defended the series against claims it might be called 'Woke Expectations'.

Steven Knight is pictured at the premiere of Peaky Blinders in Birmingham
Steven Knight is pictured at the premiere of Peaky Blinders in Birmingham. Picture: Alamy

He said: "It's everyone's right to react in the way they want to react. 

"But I would say that the book exists, it is still there.

"This is not an attempt to say the book is wrong or this is better."

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