Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is taking on Ebenezer Scrooge, putting his own spin on Charles Dickens under a deal that will see him partner again with the team from his other acclaimed drama, Taboo. BBC One has ordered a series of adaptations of Dickens’ classic novels to be produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free London in association with Tom Hardy’s Hardy Son & Baker. The project will kick off with a three-part take on A Christmas Carol which will air in the festive season 2019.
Commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, the transfers are promised to brim with Knight’s unique style, creating a boxed-set of Dickens’ most iconic novels over the next few years.
Knight, BBC One, Scott Free, and Hardy have a shared history via BBC/FX drama Taboo which Knight created with Hardy and his dad, Chips Hardy. Hardy stars in that series which returns for a second run next year, and he also features on Peaky Blinders whose Season 4 is currently airing on BBC Two in the UK (it bows Stateside on Netflix December 21). There is no word yet if Hardy will appear in A Christmas Carol or future Dickens adaptations.
Knight is an avowed Dickens fan who told me a couple years back that part of what sets Peaky Blinders apart from other period drama owes something to the Great Expectations and Tale Of Two Cities author. Ahead of the Season 3 launch, he said, “If one were to hope to aspire to do what Dickens did it would be to take working class life and make it relative to fiction.”
When talking today about the upcoming adaptations, Knight said, “Any question about narrative storytelling is answered by Dickens. To have the chance to revisit the text and interpret in a new way is the greatest privilege. We need luck and wisdom to do this justice.”
Wenger added, “Steven’s unique ability to reimagine the past and to turn it in to must-see drama make him the perfect writer to reinvent Dickens’ most famous works for a new generation. And in A Christmas Carol, that most familiar of Dickens’ stories, he has found the perfect place to start.”
Moore calls Knight “a genius” and suggests viewers be “prepared to be blown away by his wholly original and visionary take on some of Britain’s best loved classics.”
For Scott, it’s “terrific to be continuing the creative partnership of Scott Free London with Tom and Steve that started with Taboo and continues with this exciting and ambitious anthology of British classics.”
And Hardy adds, “It’s extremely exciting to have the opportunity to team up with Ridley Scott, Steven Knight and our partners at the BBC with this rare and wonderful opportunity to revisit and interpret Dickens’ classic works. A Christmas Carol is a fabulous magical piece of theater and an embarrassment of riches for our creative team — from character all the way through to design. Here’s to having a lot of intricate and wonderful fun. We feel very lucky.”
The story of cold-hearted Scrooge who’s visited by four ghosts on a freezing Christmas Eve, and must face up to how his self-interested behavior has impacted his own life and those around him, will be produced by Scott Free London in association with Hardy Son & Baker for BBC One. It will be executive produced by Knight, Scott, Hardy, Kate Crowe and Dean Baker, alongside Wenger.