Even while I was reading Bleak House a couple of weeks ago, I found myself looking forward to watching the recent (2005) BBC adaptation of it. Several people had recommended it to me (including Teresa), and I had had a great experience recently with the BBC adaptation of Our Mutual Friend, so I was eager to see what they’d made of it. I’m pleased to say that even with the wonderful novel fresh in my mind, I think the adaptation was outstanding.
One of the good things about this miniseries was that it was 8 episodes long. While even this was not enough to cover every character or plot twist, it did leave enough room for a great deal of character development and suspense, and only a few loops of the labyrinth had to be dropped. Andrew Davies did the writing, which was superb, and the settings truly highlighted the contrasts between high and low society.
Before I saw this adaptation, I had my doubts about some of the casting choices. In particular, I wondered about Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock — why pick an American? But Anderson’s accent is flawless (she spent her childhood in England and lives there now), and her portrayal of Lady Dedlock is beautifully done. I hate to single others out, because the ensemble cast is so good, but Charles Dance makes a marvelously sinister Tulkinghorn, and Nathaniel Parker is absolutely note-perfect as Mr. Skimpole (though there, again, I probably wouldn’t have chosen him.) Despite the investment of time, this adaptation is worth watching again, for its faithfulness to the book as well as its artistry on its own.