What a thoroughly unpleasant fellow that Jacob Marlowe is, grasping Money lender, procurer of sexual services and a violent abuser to boot, is it any wonder someone tops him off in a dark alley way?
And so begins the first thirty minute instalment of the new BBC costume extravaganza starring many of our most beloved and reviled characters from the tomes of the incomparable Mr Dickens. Serialised in short gulps with double episodes shown across the evenings on BBC One's Christmas schedule, this promised to be an absolute treat and it most certainly is.
Amelia Havisham is a beautiful young woman, having just lost her Father, she is grief stricken but under instruct to remove mourning clothes the day after the funeral. The reading of the will leaving her the majority beneficiary of the family holdings much to the angry disgust of her half brother, sets off a chain of events that are pointing to how she ends up a woman frozen in time and likely to meet a fiery end.
The Cratchetts are poor and poorly treated by both Messrs Scrooge and Marley and there is a whiff of discord between both these "Men of Business" before Mr Marley meets a sticky end.
Little Nell is gravely ill at the Old Curiosity shop and Mrs Gamp is pouring the Gin most liberally down her own gullet. The Money lenders want their repayment in full and Bob is aghast they would try to squeeze them when someone is ill.
Fagin, Nancy and Bill are busy ducking and diving, poor Nancy the object of Marley's peccadillos and fists. Fagin is the architect of her misery sending her about like a commodity. His sausages to the urchins seem pale in comparison.
The show is a whose Who of Dicken's Characters and much commentary went on in the old family seat as it played out as to who folk might be before someone called them by name, it was like a fun parlour game from days gone by. The script is tight and at times darkly funny and thoroughly immersive even in the short space the writers had for exposition. The characters are distinct and their roots on the page faithfully rendered.
With Twenty parts, I suspect we are to see much from this series, but so far so good, my Expectations are Great, so to speak!