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Great Expectations is a Charles Dickens epic novel adapted for television in a co-production between the British network BBC and the American PBS series Masterpiece. Produced and broadcast in 2011 the epic novel was split into three parts by screenwriter Sarah Phelps and director Brian Kirk; broadcast initially by the BBC as part of its Christmas period schedule the series stars Gillian Anderson and Ray Winstone. Controversy over one of the best loved novels by Dickens was generated with the casting of Anderson as the jilted obsessive Miss Haversham who causes problems in the lives of those she crosses. The three episodes of Great Expectations were broadcast as 60 minute parts for a total running time of just under three hours.

The series opens in the 19th century with the character of Pip shown as a young boy living with his sister and her blacksmith husband, Joe. Pip spends a large amount of his time walking and playing on the marshes surrounding the family home where he meets an escaped convict, Magwitch who tells him to bring a file to remove his shackles. In an act of kindness Pip also brings food for the convict; returning to the marshes Pip witnesses a fight between Magwitch and another escaped convict, later revealed to be Compeyson.

Pip spends time with the reclusive Miss Haversham and her adopted daughter Estella whom Pip falls in love with. When an adult Pip is taken to London by the lawyer Jaggers and given money to become a gentleman; believing Miss Haversham to be his mysterious beneficiary Pip longs to begin a relationship with Estella. The convict Magwitch later returns to London from Australia and reveals himself to be Pip's beneficiary after being impressed by his act of kindness on the marshes. Pip must now help Magwitch escape and hope to free Estella from an unhappy marriage.

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BBC
1 Season, 3 Episodes
Drama
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Great Expectations Full Episode Guide

  • Episode Two begins as young Pip?s future ? despite his desire for an education and change in his status ? is being drawn up: he will become Joe?s apprentice at the forgery. As Pip (Ioan Gruffudd) grows from a boy to a young man, there seems little hope that his dreams will ever be fulfilled until he is visited one day by a lawyer, Jaggers (Ian McDiarmid). Jaggers informs Pip that he has an anonymous benefactor: Pip may accept the chance offered to him to travel to London and live and be educated as a gentleman, but it is a condition of acceptance that the benefactor?s identity remain concealed. Pip mistakenly assumes that Miss Havisham is responsible for this change in his fortune. He still believes that he is in love with Estella (Justine Waddell), and now considers that he has a real chance of marrying her one day.

  • Young Pip (Gabriel Thomson) lives with his tyrranical sister (Lesley Sharp) and her blacksmith husband, Joe. Joe will always care for Pip, but his wife's exacting criticism and harsh tongue forge an extra bond between the kindly blacksmith and the young boy. A nightmarish encounter with an escaped convict, Magwitch, (Bernard Hill) is a monumental event in Pip's childhood, as is his enforced visit to the stately Satis House.There he meets rich, eccentric Miss Havisham (Charlotte Rampling) who lives alone with her adopted daughter, Estella (Gemma Gregory). Pip is lured and repelled by the young Estella, who seems to him proud and rude, but is, unarguably, exceptionally beautiful. Estella mocks Pip for his humble status so that he longs even more to be rich and educated - as she is. Episode One draws to a close as a confused and unhappy Pip is informed by Miss Havisham that his company at Satis House will no longer be required, as Estella is soon to go to school. Challenged to a fight by a spirited but unidentified young man in the grounds of the house, Pip and returns home more dismayed than ever.

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