Great news for us. Nat will start shooting a fascinating new project in February. It is a new made-for-TV version of Charles Dickens' Bleak House. Andrew Davies (Vanity Fair) is adapting the original book.

The idea sounds very intriguing: there will be 16 episodes, each running for about half an hour. Nat will play Harold Skimpole. Now that character is very special one: Harold Skimpole in Dickens' novel was all too recognizably the very embodiment of the writer, critic and much-practiced cadger Leigh Hunt. The latter was gravely offended by Dickens's cruel caricature of his eccentricities, and no wonder: "I only ask to be free," Hunt/Skimpole is given to say in chapter 6. "The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies!". Here's a most interesting article on Skimpole and some specimens of modern men. We will get to see two episodes each week...

Dickens' style was to write installments that were published continuously. So one might tend to say that Dickens invented the cliffhanger to keep his readers interested in his stories and buying them week after week. Andrew Davies is trying to match this serial character of Dickens' novel to the television format. BBC One plans to produce this new series as a sort of soap-opera which sounds very interesting to me. Some online chat I've read told me that Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) will play Lady Deadlock. This new series is produced by Nigel Stafford-Clark.

No definite air dates yet, sorry. You can read a bit more on this on the BBC site. There's also a newspaper article, read it here. After this information, Beeb decided to give out a new press bulletin, read the original here.

The cast list reads as follows:

Gillian Anderson (Lady Dedlock), Charles Dance (Tulkinghorn), Denis Lawson (John Jarndyce), Patrick Kennedy (Richard), Carey Mulligan (Ada), Anna Maxwell Martin (Esther Summerson), Johnny Vegas (Krook), Alistair McGowan (Kenge), Timothy West (Sir Leicester Dedlock), Alun Armstrong (Bucket).

Hugo Speers, Liza Tarbuck, Charlie Brooks, Matthew Kelly, Richard Harrington, Nathaniel Parker, Warren Clarke, Anne Reid, Richard Griffiths and Phil Davis also star.

Filming on location in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Kent will commence in early February 2005 and run through until July.

This BBC Production is in association with Deep Indigo and it is produced by Nigel Stafford-Clark. The directors are Justin Chadwick (EastEnders and Spooks) and Susanna White (Teachers and Mr Harvey Lights A Candle). The executive producers are Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes.

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