Knight is yet to decide on what Dickens story he will tackle next for Ridley Scott’s Scott Free London and Tom Hardy’s Hardy Son & Baker, but he offered some insight on his thinking at the premiere of A Christmas Carol last week.
The writer was asked during a Q+A following the screening what we can expect next from his Dickens box-set, and he suggested he might be considering a story that could be told over a longer number of episodes.
“With the advent of what’s happening in television, where you get eight hours of a returning series, it means now you’ve got the keys now to the door of the library,” Knight said.
He namedropped stories including David Copperfield, Great Expectations and A Tale Of Two Cities and added: “You’ve got an opportunity for the first time to actually approach not just Dickens, but big novels, and take these classic characters and possibly do justice to them because you’ve got time.”
Knight said he enjoys searching for deeper meaning in Dickens’ work. “When Dickens was writing, there were certain things he couldn’t deal with because of the sensibilities of the time. So what I did was go through the story forensically and look for things that were maybe implied or suggested,” he explained.
“The thing with Dickens is that he often does a paragraph which, because it’s not moving the plot along, you sort of ignore. It feels like a tangent. But there’s always something in there that probably meant more to the audience at the time.”
Knight said A Christmas Carol is a “short story” and so can be done in three parts. He added that its popularity has endured because it is a timeless tale of redemption that has “invented the Christmas we know.”
He said: “There is something very simple about past, present future. Is it the case that what happened in the past makes who you are in the present and therefore predicts what you will be in the future? Or, is it possible in the present to look at what’s happened in the past, imagine what might happen in the future and therefore change it?
“It’s a very fundamental question that’s asked by the story and people like it because it’s Christmas and the answer is hopeful. No matter what you’ve done or had done to you, you can do something about it and change what you will be.”
A Christmas Carol stars Guy Pearce as Scrooge, while Andy Serkis features as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Charlotte Riley is the Ghost of Christmas Present and Jason Flemyng is the Ghost of Christmas Future. Stephen Graham plays Jacob Marley.
The series premieres on FX on December 19 and BBC One on December 22. It is the latest collaboration between the two broadcasters, who were also responsible for the acclaimed FX drama series Taboo, which was created by Knight and made by Scott Free and Hardy Son & Baker.