This superb dramatisation of Dickens's classic novel was well received when it was first shown last Christmas. Featuring a terrific cast - including Derek Jacobi, Toby Jones, Sophie Vavasseur, Zoë Wanamaker, Bradley Walsh and Gina McKee - it really delivers. Provided you're not expecting a warm and snug Christmas tale and are prepared for a dark story with an unpleasant ending, then it's a must-see.
Nell Trent (Vavasseur) is a kind and virtuous young girl who lives with her grandfather (Jacobi) in The Old Curiosity Shop. It is a magical place; an Aladdin's cave of treasures. Grandfather loves her dearly but, unbeknown to Nell, is obsessed with their precarious financial position and securing Nell a good inheritance by winning at cards. He keeps these nocturnal activities a secret, but borrows heavily from Daniel Quilp (a superb turn from Jones) an evil, profiteering loan shark. Quilp delights in exerting his power over the old man and his pretty granddaughter.
Convinced that grandfather has stored up a fortune for Nell, her wastrel brother Freddie Trent persuades the good-natured but easily led Dick Swiveller to win his sister's heart so that Swiveller can marry her and the two can share Nell's supposed inheritance. But grandfather has gambled away what little money they possess, and Quilp seizes the opportunity to force him to sign over possession of the shop.
As Quilp and his obsequious lawyer Sampson Brass move in, Nell and grandfather seize the opportunity to escape and run away to the country, where they meet a motley bunch of characters. Quilp, furious at being usurped, begins to hunt for Nell and grandfather...