By Will Barber Taylor
While the recent Sherlock special caused a mixed reaction at best to returning the great detective to his home, among the smog, Tony Jordan’s recent creation – Dickensian is a master class in how to take the work of another and weave it into a truly mesmerising tale. Jordan also does something Moffat and Gatiss didn’t manage to pull off – he stays true to the original characters.
Set over the Christmas period, Dickensian centres on the murder of Jacob Marley and the following investigation into the characters that rub shoulders in the dark backstreets of Victorian London. You may think that an attempt to take classic characters such as Fagin, Scrooge, Miss Havisham and Little Nell and throw them into the same world would only result in a messy hodgepodge. You’d be wrong. The genius of the series is that while Fagin and Inspector Bucket battle wits, the creations of Boz remain as he wrote them. They are imperfect, cackling and yet so very human. When we see Miss Havisham’s difficulties with her brother and coming to terms with running her father’s brewery, we believe that this is the same woman who would go onto to meet young Pip.
Everything fits together perfectly – they may all come from different novels yet they still carry the very Dickensian sensibility which makes them all work so well in harmony. Matched with Jordan and Sarah Phelp’s electric dialogue, Dickensian is a new classic to be savoured and enjoyed, rather like Scrooge’s turkey from the end of A Christmas Carol. In the hands of a lesser writer, Dickensian could have been a fan fiction mess, rather like Sherlock, yet in the hands of a master is subverts all expectations and soars. And that is a true Christmas miracle we can all be thankful of.