Details

Year of production 2005. Running time: 30 min (14 episodes) / 60 min (1 episode). Directed by Justin Chadwick and Susanna White, screenplay by Andrew Davies based the novel by Charles Dickens. Gillian Anderson plays Lady Dedlock, Denis Lawson plays John Jarndyce, Anna Maxwell Martin plays Esther Summerson, Charlie Brooks plays Jenny, Pauline Collins plays Miss Flite, Burn Gorman plays Mr Guppy, Charles Dance plays Tulkinghorn, Johnny Vegas plays Krook, Patrick Kennedy plays Richard, Alistair McGowan, Timothy West, John Lynch, Anne Reid, Liza Tarbuck, Ian Richardson, Roberta Taylor, Charlie Brooks, Richard Griffiths, Warren Clarke, Matthew Kelly, Catherine Tate, Alun Armstrong, Hugo Speer, Phil Davis and Sheila Hancock. Nat plays Harold Skimpole.

 

Plot Summary

In its core, "Bleak House" is the story of the untouchable and icily beautiful Lady Dedlock (Gillian Anderson), who tries to cover a dark secret, the ruthless lawyer Mr. Tulkinghorn (Charles Dance) who seeks to uncover it and the narrator-heroine Esther Summerson (Anna Maxwell Martin) who's in the centre of events. For those of you who'd like to have the summaries, please use the links listed here:

General Review

Oh, hell, what can I tell you about this adaptation of "Bleak House"? Let's start like this: For Andrew Davies - usually thought of as the grand master of literary adaptations, including Vanity Fair (1998) - trying to adapt Dickens to the soap TV format was a mixed adventure: "Dickens gives you such strong lines of dialogue and there are all these wonderful, grotesque characters you can really run with," says Davies. "But plot-wise it's a nightmare." So here I go, trying to tell you what to expect from this TV-series.

Skimpole sitting by the piano
 
 
 
 

You have to keep in mind that Dickens' novels generally are epic feasts of characters and story lines. "Bleak House" features some of the most famous plot twists in literary history, including a case of human spontaneous combustion and an infamous inheritance dispute that is tied up for generations in the dysfunctional English courts, while lawyers consume the assets of the estate.

The cast of supporting characters contains some of Dickens' most famous creations: Smallweed (Phil Davis), the evil moneylender; Bucket (Alun Armstrong), the cool police inspector at the centre of fiction's first-ever whodunit; Harold Skimpole (Nathaniel Parker), the juicy caricature of a 40-year-old man who claims to be a "perfect child" and Little Jo, the young crossing sweeper, whose tragic death almost brought Victorian England to a standstill.

One of Dickens' specialities is caricature. Please understand his approach to caricature like the artist's satirical way of painting a picture. Not too surprisingly, Dickens made sure that all his novels had illustrations in it. Sad to say that this fact's often neglected by modern issues of his novels and books. He had harsh debates with some of his illustrators, because he felt that they failed to portray his characters. This might have been due to a common misunderstanding with Dickens' written caricatures: His ironic portraits are designed to produce amusement but not just that. They can also be an overload of things that bothered him, an exaggeration of real problems in his very own satirical way. Caricature can be pure drollery, or meant to express ones point of view but without being too aggressive or morally. Throughout Dickens' novels, scores upon scores of the minor characters are caricatures. He uses them to lighten up an unbearable situation but he also accuses doubtful behaviour of certain specimens of mankind. One of the most obvious examples in the TV-adaptation of Bleak House is Guppy (Burn Gorman) and his mother.

And here we are. Right in the middle of things. Some things that made this project very hard were:

Problem 1
The mere length of the book, large amounts of characters and the twisted story-line. Solved? Yes. I have to admit that the first 60 minute episode challenged me because of the barrage of characters that were introduced. But no worries, you'll get to know them all. The storyline itself circles around two things: the mystery of Lady Dedlock and the legal dispute over an old inheritance. Dickens would have hated this mutilation of his written universe. But believe me, if he was alive today he wouldn't have known and done it any better than Davies. The story never fails to keep you in your seat, it is funny, it is entertaining, it is gripping and sometimes you are brought to tears by the events. It is NOT the classical literature-being-made into-a-movie thing.

Problem 2
At least half of the characters in the book are caricatures. There's a danger that the adaptation becomes pure comedy or a freak show. Solved? Each character has the chance to display his/her real background, what makes him / her tick. None is purely merely a caricature. All have the ability to make us think: I know this character trait - I know someone who's almost like this man / woman. That's a thing that caricature does. But you also are able to feel with them. Yes, problem solved.

Problem 3
Well, sounds like another classic literature thing from the BBC - why bother making yet another costume drama. Solved? Yes. It is set in Dickens' days, but the hand-held camera, the fast cuts and the simple speed of the narration keeps you on your feet. Not a chance to say that this is boring stuff. It is a highly modern adaptation.

Nat Review

Harold Skimpole, being a close friend of Jarndyce, is a brilliant, vivacious, sentimental, but thoroughly selfish man. Skimpole is a prototype of a modern pluralist, he loves all creation, he is a friend of peace and art. As a matter of fact he is so fond of aesthetics, that he can tolerate anything but intolerance. Nice? Well Skimpole's definition of intolerance would be something that is disturbing his perfect world with problems, ugliness or money related troubles. He hates none, is kind and caring toward all as long as they don't ask for his responsibility in any way. Still sounds like a positive character, yes? Well get to know him better. Let me use Skimpole's very own words: "Go your several ways in peace! Wear red coats, blue coats, lawn sleeves, put pens behind your ears, wear aprons; go after glory, holiness, commerce, trade, any object you prefer; only - let Harold Skimpole live!" Still sounds OK? You'll get to learn that the true translation to these lines is: Nothing really matters but ME.

A revolting specimen of mankind? Nope. Because at first sight Skimpole seems to be, well, a naïve person ("I am a child you know"), but basically none seems to take his recurring debts as a real problem and him too seriously. His debts are being paid for by his friends. He never fails to lose his charm. At first he isn't more than a funny sketch. But you do get bothered by him the more you get to see of his strange attitudes towards real problems. His egomaniac ways when Esther suddenly falls ill are unbearable to observe.

Odd shillings...


"Mr. Skimpole was as agreeable at breakfast, as he had been over-night. There was honey on the table, and it led him into a discourse about Bees. He had no objection to honey, he said (and I should think he had not, for he seemed to like it), but he protested against the overweening assumptions of Bees. He didn't at all see why the busy Bee should be proposed as a model to him; he supposed the Bee liked to make honey, or he wouldn't do it - nobody asked him. It was not necessary for the Bee to make such a merit of his tastes. If every confectioner went buzzing about the world, banging against everything that came in his way, and egotistically calling upon everybody to take notice that he was going to his work and must not be interrupted, the world would be quite an unsupportable place. Then, after all, it was a ridiculous position, to be smoked out of your fortune with brimstone, as soon as you had made it. You would have a very mean opinion of a Manchester man, if he spun cotton for no other purpose. He must say he thought a Drone the embodiment of a pleasanter and wiser idea. The Drone said, unaffectedly, 'You will excuse me; I really cannot attend to the shop! I find myself in a world in which there is so much to see, and so short a time to see it in, that I must take the liberty of looking about me, and begging to be provided for by somebody who doesn't want to look about him.' This appeared to Mr. Skimpole to be the Drone philosophy, and he thought it a very good philosophy - always supposing the Drone to be willing to be on good terms with the Bee; which, so far as he knew, the easy fellow always was, if the consequential creature would only let him, and not be so conceited about his honey!"
Charles Dickens, Bleak House (1852-3) chap. viii.

He turns out to be a villain of a different kind. The longer you observe him, he slowly mutates into a giant grotesque social parasite; a huge tick, a bloodsucker or a tapeworm who loves to listen to Mozart and has a taste for good wine and good manners, yet he doesn't care for his own children. He is like a baby who seemingly has one thing going on in his mind: a relentless search for never ending pleasure.

His skilful and wilful neglect of responsibility shines in all its glory within his last big scene in this adaptation (part fourteen). Esther our heroine, sees through his not-so-naïve deeds and his façade. She is furious about his betrayal of Jo for a bribe. With his back to the wall, in a wee small moment, all his defences come down. What does he do then? Admit that he's able to realize to the fullest what Esther just told him? That he betrayed the trust of his friend and helper Jarndyce. Is that something a self-centred child would understand? How does Harold Skimpole react confronted with an accusation like this? Quite simple: After he realises what's been said, he refuses to even comprehend what she's telling him. Then he senses a "certain something in the atmosphere". Then he's leaving the battlefield with excuses: "Events - People".

This scene is the highlight of Nat's Skimpole. The way he shows us Skimpole's real nature within the blink of an eye is one the best things I have ever seen in Nat's career. He has perfectly embodied this impostor who claims to be a good-natured character. Even more so, Skimpole is the striking caricature of the perpetual despiteful artist. It takes a lot of bravery to take on a role like this. Being an artist himself, he'd probably mock attitudes displayed whenever convenient: irresponsibility, idleness and insolence. Well of course they are not Nat's. Be aware that the general audience bears distorted images of actors, painters, dancers, musicians, singers, writers - in short so-called stars - in mind. Everybody knows the cliché of the worldly innocent artist, the in-crowd and the superficial "darling" culture.

The second bravery is something else. Nat decided to take a break from smarty pants Lynley and other good-looking romantic heroes. This character is so very different from his well-known TV persona. It is important to show that Lynley isn't dominating Nat's abilities as an actor. Nat is able to portray more and quite different characters. Considering that Lynley's been on TV for over 5 years now, it is vital for him to show a different face. Nat's decision to play Skimpole was brave and it was a fantastic choice. Nat made "The Private Life of Samuel Pepys" two years ago. He stressed his ability to play unappealing parts again in "Bleak House". So: Bravo! Encore! Well done! Applause…..

Trivia

Episodes - 15; Speaking roles - 80; Principal cast members - 40; Weeks of shooting - 21; Extras (in total) - 2,000; Extras (in any one scene) - 75; First day of shooting - 7 February, Charles Dickens' birthday.

Status

Bleak House is out on DVD in the UK and the USA.

 

Bleak House Ep 1/15

Andrew Davies's innovative adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic Bleak House launches with a feature-length episode. Young orphan Esther Summerson is brought to the High Court of Chancery by lawyer Mr Kenge, where she is thrown together with two wards of the court, Richard Carstone and Ada Clare. Both are caught up in the infamous suit of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which brings nothing but ruin and despair to all it touches. At the Chancery courts, the three meet other beleaguered suitors in the case, including the eccentric Miss Flite, who lodges nearby with the peculiar (and very drunk) rag-and-bottle merchant, Krook. They have another lodger, Nemo, who is a mysterious figure: a law-writer by trade, but a self-destructive opium addict by nature.When Esther meets him, she feels a strange shiver of recognition… Esther, Richard and Ada spend their last night in London with the Jellyby family, before setting off to Bleak House to live with their guardian, John Jarndyce. They are astonished to find the Jellyby household running to ruin, as a result of Mrs Jellyby spending more time dealing with far-flung matters of philanthropy than the problems on her own doorstep. Esther sympathises with her daughter, Caddy, who is at her wits' end. Esther, Ada and Richard receive a warm welcome to Bleak House from Mr Jarndyce.There, they are introduced to his friend Harold Skimpole, a man who shirks responsibility for his actions, as well as the public-spirited Mrs Pardiggle, who escorts Esther, Ada and Richard on a charitable excursion to the slum dwellings of some poverty-stricken brick makers. The elegant life of another Jarndyce suitor, the beautiful Lady Dedlock, is turned upside down when her husband's lawyer, Tulkinghorn, gets wind of the secret in her past.Tulkinghorn's investigation leads him into the dark underbelly of London where he searches for Nemo. But when Tulkinghorn decides to pay Nemo a visit, he receives a very nasty surprise…

 

Bleak House Ep 2/15

Tulkinghorn and Krook call out the doctor, Allan Woodcourt, who suspects that Nemo's death was caused by an accidental overdose of opium, as Andrew Davies's adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic novel continues.The coroner confirms as much and Nemo is given a pauper's funeral.At the gloomy burial ground,Tulkinghorn interrogates a young crossing-sweeper, named only as Jo, whom Nemo had befriended. He is convinced Jo knows something. Ada and Richard are beginning to fall in love. Jarndyce instructs Richard that it is time to choose a career, so he happens, very quickly, upon the idea of medicine. As a result, arrangements are made for Richard to study with Mr Bayham Badger in Chelsea. The four have dinner with the irrepressible Mr and Mrs Badger, where they encounter Allan Woodcourt. He and Esther are attracted to one another. At Chesney Wold, Lady Dedlock has taken a shine to the young maid Rosa - to the absolute horror of her existing French maid, Hortense. However, Lady Dedlock has more serious troubles when Tulkinghorn gleefully informs her of Nemo's fate. Meanwhile, Krook is gloating over a bundle of letters he filched from Nemo's trunk under Tulkinghorn's nose. Although he can't read, they smell, he reckons, like love letters…

 

Bleak House Ep 3/15

Ada confides in Esther that she and Richard are in love, as Andrew Davies's adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic Bleak House continues. They wish to get engaged but Jarndyce disapproves and tells them it's far too soon to take this step. Reluctantly, the pair agree to wait. Meanwhile, Caddy Jellyby has entered into a secret engagement with Prince Turveydrop, the son of a dancing master. His father, Old Mr Turveydrop, is a lazy, self-centred old man who preens around, showing off his deportment, whilst his son does all the work. Richard is failing in his medical studies and decides to quit in favour of the law. It's the worst option he could have chosen, particularly since it marks his increasing obsession with Chancery. In court with Ada, he meets Mr Gridley - an irascible and frustrated suitor who has wasted his life in pursuit of reward. Gridley flies off the handle at Tulkinghorn, who, enraged, orders a warrant for his arrest. Skimpole joyfully announces that his old adversary, Mr Neckett the bailiff, has died. But when Jarndyce and Esther hear that he had a young family, they decide to visit his lodgings. There, they find that his daughter, Charley, is working as a washerwoman to provide for her siblings. Jarndyce resolves that they should take action. Lady Dedlock instructs Tulkinghorn not to continue any further in his enquiries about Nemo. Nonetheless, she decides to conduct her own secret investigation, tracking Jo down at night and paying him to guide her around Nemo's old haunts. Finally, she visits his burial ground, where she grieves for her lost love. Esther and Allan Woodcourt have become close, so she is deeply disappointed to hear the news that he has taken a job as a ship's surgeon on a long voyage. A little hope remains, however, when she receives a bouquet of flowers from him as a keepsake.

 

Bleak House Ep 4/15

Jarndyce has taken Esther and Ada to visit his friend, Mr Boythorn, in the Leicestershire countryside, as Andrew Davies's adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic novel continues. He is a neighbour of Sir Leicester's, but they are engaged in a protracted legal wrangle about their territorial rights. Jarndyce is unhappy to overhear Esther confide in Ada about her affection for Woodcourt: he is starting to have feelings for her himself. In the local church, Esther has a strange encounter with Lady Dedlock in which both feel a mysterious pull of recognition. Later, on a country walk, Jarndyce, Esther and Ada are caught in a storm and take shelter at the same place as Lady Dedlock. She asks Jarndyce for confirmation that Esther is indeed an orphan. Then, after listening to another unruly outburst, Lady Dedlock sacks her fiery maid, Hortense. Back in London, Richard is now working at Kenge and Carboys with Guppy - and is showing an unhealthy interest in the Jarndyce and Jarndyce suit. Guppy pays a visit to Snagsby's law-writing shop, where he meets Mrs Chadband. She happened to work for Miss Barbary in the past, and informs Guppy that Esther's real name is Hawdon. He decides to investigate further by chasing the matter up with Krook, but Krook is so wily - and so drunk - that he doesn't get very far. A policeman has also called at Snagsby's with Jo, the crossing sweeper, in tow. Jo has a substantial amount of money in his possession, and the policeman doesn't believe his story about the lady who gave it to him. But Snagsby takes Jo's story to Tulkinghorn, and is introduced to Inspector Bucket. After finding Jo with Jenny, they bring him to Tulkinghorn's office, where he is startled to see the very same lady dressed in all her finery.

 

Bleak House Ep 5/15

Richard pays a visit to Bleak House, where he disappoints Jarndyce yet again by announcing his intention to quit the law and join the army, as Andrew Davies's star-studded adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic continues. Jarndyce warns him that this must be his final choice, and that he needs to take the question of employment seriously since no good will ever come of his Chancery hopes. But their relationship is becoming increasingly strained. Charley Neckett turns up as a not wholly welcome gift for Esther. Jarndyce has employed her as Esther's maid without consulting her first. Later, in town, Esther visits Caddy and Prince at the dance academy and watches as they tell Old Mr Turveydrop the news of their engagement. He is most displeased: that is until they pledge to work together to make his life more agreeable. Gridley is on the run from the law, following Tulkinghorn's arrest warrant, and asks his old friend, Miss Flite, if she can take him in. She points him in the direction of an old friend of hers, Sergeant George, a noble ex-soldier who now owns a gym.Among his fencing pupils is Richard, who is learning the arts of war in preparation for joining his regiment. Unfortunately for George, he has become embroiled in Tulkinghorn's investigation. Clamb has managed to identify Nemo as a Captain Hawdon, in debt to the moneylender Smallweed. George was a close friend of Hawdon's during their army days, and he now owes Smallweed money. Tulkinghorn desperately wants to get hold of a sample of Hawdon's hand-writing for comparison, so sends Smallweed to blackmail George into providing one.

 

Bleak House Ep 6/15

George meets Tulkinghorn to discuss his demands, but is suspicious of Tulkinghorn's motives, as Andrew Davies's adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic continues. Smallweed is desperate to squeeze George for all he can, but Tulkinghorn instructs him to bide his time. Back at the gym, George worries what the future may hold for himself and his assistant, Phil Squod. Guppy is still attempting to pursue Esther's interest and pays another visit to an extremely drunken Krook.At the mention of the name Hawdon, Krook allows him a tantalising glimpse of his love letters, but he won't let Guppy get his hands on them. The Dedlocks receive a visitor to Chesney Wold - Mr Rouncewell, the housekeeper's wealthy son. His son has fallen in love with Lady Dedlock's maid, Rosa, and Rouncewell wants to take her away to be educated.While Sir Leicester takes the offer as an affront to the nobility of his household, Lady Dedlock is acutely concerned at the thought of losing the girl who has become like a daughter to her. Later, Lady Dedlock receives a second visit, this time from Guppy. He outlines his recent discoveries - including the fact that Esther's real name is Hawdon. Esther and Charley discover that Jo is seriously ill.They find him with Jenny and take him home to Bleak House so that they can care for him, ignoring Skimpole's advice to turf him out. However, in the middle of the night, Jo mysteriously disappears.

 

Bleak House Ep 7/15

Esther,Ada, Jarndyce and Charley search far and wide for Jo but to no avail, as Andrew Davies's star-studded adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic continues. Jo has disappeared - spirited away by Tulkinghorn and Bucket to stop him talking.Then, the next morning, disaster strikes: Esther falls ill with smallpox. Still in pursuit of the letters, Guppy heads over to Krook's house. When he gets there, he finds Miss Flite and Snagsby worrying about the peculiar smell in the air.Venturing inside, Guppy is shocked to discover that Krook is dead.The coroner's verdict is spontaneous combustion. Guppy is thwarted again, as Smallweed claims ownership of all of Krook's property. Disappointed, Guppy tells Lady Dedlock of his failure to find the letters. As he is about to leave, they are surprised by Tulkinghorn, who senses that Guppy is up to something. He and Smallweed decide that the time has come to call in George's debt.

 

Bleak House Ep 8/15

Esther confesses to Jarndyce that any hopes she once had regarding Woodcourt are futile - her disfigurement makes it impossible for any man to love her - as Andrew Davies's adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic continues. Jarndyce agonises over whether to keep his own feelings for her concealed. Guppy makes a big mistake by letting slip to Smallweed about Hawdon's letters. Tulkinghorn is close to piecing together Lady Dedlock's secret - he matches the handwriting sample from George with the legal documents and Nemo's identity is proven without a doubt. Meanwhile, Esther,Ada, Charley and Jarndyce pay Boythorn another visit. The girls take a walk through Chesney Wold and Lady Dedlock tells Esther something that will change her life for ever…

 

Bleak House Ep 9/15

Following Lady Dedlock's confession, Esther is in shock but she keeps her turmoil from Ada, as Andrew Davies's star-studded adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic continues. With Boythorn and Jarndyce away on business, the girls go to the local pub, where Esther is surprised to meet Richard. His interest in Chancery has become an obsession, and Esther is worried when she discovers that, on Skimpole's advice, he has now employed his own lawyer, the vampiric Mr Vholes. Esther can see that Vholes intends to bleed Richard dry, but there is little she can do to prevent it. Smallweed's many hours of searching through Krook's old legal papers finally pay off when he discovers Captain Hawdon's bundle of love letters. Guppy returns to the shop and offers Smallweed money for the letters but, at that moment,Tulkinghorn steps out of the shadows and warns him off. Later, much to Smallweed's astonishment - and great delight - Tulkinghorn offers him a much bigger sum for the letters. Having gathered all his evidence,Tulkinghorn visits Chesney Wold. There, he shows his hand, relating Lady Dedlock's scandalous history to herself and Sir Leicester as if it were that of "a townsman's of Mr Rouncewell". Sir Leicester finds it too shocking to be believed. When they are alone, Lady Dedlock tells Tulkinghorn that she will flee Chesney Wold that night, before the scandal breaks. But he turns the tables on her, claiming that, in order to protect the family honour, he will keep her secret, as long as she does nothing. Now, she is totally in his power.

 

Bleak House Ep 10/15

Tulkinghorn believes Lady Dedlock is in his power, but she continues to defy him by sending Rosa away to save her from any impending scandal, as Andrew Davies's adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic continues. Back in London, Hortense angers Tulkinghorn. Bucket later drags her down to the station to give her a warning and makes Hortense write down her address, promising to keep an eye on her. Esther plans a visit to London, where she and Ada see the newly pregnant Caddy. However, she has an ulterior motive for the trip: seeing Guppy to tell him to stop investigating her past.When Esther lifts her veil and shows him her face, Guppy is only too happy to agree to her wishes as long as he can retract his proposal. Ada and Esther go to see Richard and they find him at court. He is soon leaving to join his regiment in Deal, and Vholes and Skimpole are worried by his enormous debts. When the girls return to Bleak House, Jarndyce tells them Sir Leicester has invited them to Chesney Wold, worried that they may have been offended by his lack of courtesy when they visited Boythorn. Esther is horrified by the idea. George's anger knows no bounds when Tulkinghorn breaks his promise and leaves him in financial ruin.And a marriage proposal surprises Esther - but is it from the right man?

 

Bleak House Ep 11/15

Vholes pays a visit to Bleak House to appeal to Jarndyce's generosity in the hope that he'll pay Richard's debts, as Andrew Davies's adaptation of the Dickens classic continues. Esther and Ada visit Richard in Deal, where Ada offers him her inheritance to help ease his financial woes. Richard is deeply touched by the gesture, but the offer has come too late - he's selling out of the Army. The girls return to the inn to find it in an uproar: the brave hero of the shipwrecked Indiaman has returned to port. Before she can take this in, Esther comes face to face with Woodcourt, and their meeting raises some uncomfortable questions for her. Meanwhile, Jenny finds a very ill Jo wandering the streets of London. After returning to the city, Woodcourt stumbles upon them and realises immediately that Jo's illness is a matter of life and death. Elsewhere, Tulkinghorn discovers that Lady Dedlock has crossed him and dismissed Rosa. Furious, he announces that the deal is off: he will now expose her. Back at the gym, George rails against Tulkinghorn's maliciousness and Phil tries to calm him without success. Still seething, George leaves - but Phil notices that one of the pistols he was cleaning is missing. Clamb leaves the office for the night, bumping into George in the alley nearby. Tulkinghorn is shot…

 

Bleak House Ep 12/15

Clamb discovers Tulkinghorn's body, as Andrew Davies's adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic continues. Bucket takes the case, quickly learning from Clamb that George was seen at the scene of the crime and had previously issued violent threats against Tulkinghorn. It's only circumstantial evidence so far, but it's damning nonetheless. And while Sir Leicester offers a reward for the arrest of the murderer, Lady Dedlock is keeping quiet. Phil wants to know where George got to the night before with the pistol, but they are interrupted by the arrival of Smallweed, who has come to do an in ventory. He leaves in a hurry when George raises the pistol in question and points it at him. But Smallweed gets his own back by fingering George as a potential suspect, to Bucket. He also demands the return of the Hawdon letters he sold to Tulkinghorn, but Bucket is having none of it. Meanwhile, Caddy has had her baby, but both mother and child are very ill. Esther and Ada visit her and dismiss the quack doctor, sending for Woodcourt instead, who quickly improves Caddy's condition. It's more than evident that the flame still burns between him and Esther; however, she firmly attempts to hold her feelings in check. Later, at Ada's 21st birthday party, Richard makes a rare visit to his guardian's house but finds it very difficult to conceal his hostility. When Ada remarks to Esther of Woodcourt's evident feelings for her, Esther is compelled to own up to her engagement to Jarndyce. Ada is shocked to have been excluded from the secret. Bucket makes an early arrest, appearing to wrap up the Tulkinghorn murder case quickly. But a spate of poison-pen letters suggests that all is not as it seems…

 

Bleak House Ep 13/15

Jarndyce brings Mrs Rouncewell and George together, and they are reunited in his cell. She pleads with him to allow a lawyer to help him, and he eventually relents on condition that his brother is not involved.Their old rivalry still won't let him swallow his pride. Inspector Bucket has already stepped up his investigation, interviewing Mercury about Lady Dedlock's movements on the night in question.The footman cannot quite place what Lady Dedlock wore for her night walk, as she has so many clothes. Above stairs, Mrs Rouncewell pays an unexpected visit to the Dedlocks' London house, where she begs her mistress to help her son. She hands over a letter which was delivered to her at Chesney Wold.Alone, Lady Dedlock opens it. It reads "Lady Dedlock Murderess". Meanwhile,Woodcourt and Richard have become good friends, and Woodcourt talks of his envy of the love Ada holds for Richard. He wishes he had the same from Esther, and intends to propose to her soon. Next day, Esther and Ada pay Richard a visit. Esther is surprised that Ada seems to know the way there. Richard greets them warmly but is clearly very unwell. Esther is devastated to learn that Ada is not going back with her. She and Richard have married in secret, and she is staying with her husband. Inspector Bucket's investigation gathers steam when he tracks down the mysterious letter-writer. As evidence mounts against Lady Dedlock, Bucket sets a trap for the killer - with astonishing results…

 

Bleak House Ep 14/15

When Esther returns, and tells Jarndyce about Richard and Ada's marriage, the pair are saddened that only the two of them are now left, in the penultimate episode of Andrew Davies's adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic novel. Woodcourt pays Esther a visit to talk about Richard's increasing ill health, and his concerns about Skimpole's negative influence upon him. George is released from prison by Bucket and Mrs Rouncewell is delighted that her son is a free man. She tells him that she has found a solution to his financial worries: she has arranged with Sir Leicester that he can work at Chesney Wold, looking after the horses. Phil will join them. As Bucket wraps up his investigation, there's yet more trouble for Lady Dedlock in the shape of the evil moneylender, Smallweed, who has evidence of her secret past and intends to use it. Cornered and desperate, Lady Dedlock makes a terrible decision. Can Esther and Bucket reach her before it is too late?

 

Bleak House Ep 15/15

Months have passed and Richard's obsession with Chancery has left him seriously ill, in the concluding episode of Andrew Davies's adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic novel.When Esther visits Ada, she finds her desperately concerned for Richard's health - all the more so because she is pregnant, and doubts he will live to see his child. Woodcourt tells Esther that Jarndyce has found him a position as a medical practitioner in the North and he's going to take the job. But she is the love of his life, and he wants to marry her and take her with him to Yorkshire. However, Esther has to turn him down, admitting she's not free to marry him since she's betrothed to Jarndyce. She is very upset, but pulls herself together and asks Jarndyce the next morning to set a date for their wedding.They will marry in a month. Meanwhile, Smallweed discovers an important document amongst Krook's many papers - a will from the original John Jarndyce, which pre-dates all the others in the case. And the impossible finally happens - a result in Chancery. But it's one that will astound everybody…

 

 

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