Charles Dickens is undoubtedly one of the greatest writers who ever lived, and as evidenced by the number of times his work has been adapted for stage and screen his stories are timelss. A new adaptation of Dickens’ iconic A Christmas Carol was announced back in 2017, with Taboo executive producers Steven Knight and Tom Hardy teaming up for a three-part adaptation for BBC One.
It’s been some time since we had an update on the project, so when Collider’s own Steve Weintraub spoke with Knight for an exclusive interview about his new film Serenity, he asked about A Christmas Carol. Knight confirmed that the script is nearly done and they’re aiming to shoot and release the project this year:
“It’s gonna be three one-hours, it’s largely done in terms of the script. We’re planning to shoot this year and hopefully get it on the screen for Christmas… It’s BBC plus an American element which has not been announced yet.”
Could that American element be Netflix? We’ll just have to wait and see. Knight confirmed that Hardy will star in the project in addition to executive producing, but declined to clarify his role beyond saying that it’s “pivotal.” Could you imagine Tom Hardy as the three ghosts?
But that’s not all! Knight revealed that A Christmas Carol is only the first in a series of Dickens adaptations he hopes to make. The idea is to put together a stable of great actors and have them all return and play new roles in each adaptation:
“What I’m planning to do is adapt five Dickens books—A Christmas Carol plus four novels—and do it over a period of six or seven years and have a repertory of actors, and I think we’ll get the best actors in the world, hopefully, to take part because the Dickens characters are so great. And just do like [David] Copperfield and Oliver Twist and Great Expectations and do them in a modern way. Not really in a Taboo way, but sort of like that.”
Knight hopes to make David Copperfield next, but stops short of saying these additional adaptations have been confirmed or greenlit. But he did note that if Dickens were writing today, he’d be writing for television:
“The idea is that when Dickens was writing, I mean he would’ve been a TV returning series writer I think. Because that’s how he works. When he wrote his novels he did it in installments and released them in magazines so that there were cliffhangers and people were waiting for the next episode. As far as he could, according to the sort of fashions of the time, he did deal with the darker side of London and poverty and things that were going on. He couldn’t really go into the detail in the way that we can now, so what I’m trying to do is things that are possibly implied in Dickens, we can actually express.”
While A Christmas Carol will consist of three one- hour installments, Knight says the other, longer Dickens novels would be about eight hours in length each. But first we have to see if audiences respond to A Christmas Carol, which will hopefully be released in time for the holiday season later this year.
Look for our full interview with Knight on Collider soon.