You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

London-Set BBC Drama ‘Dickensian’ May Have to Shoot in Eastern Europe

Shortage of studio space in the U.K. may force showrunner Tony Jordan to recreate 19th-century London in Bulgaria or Romania

LONDON — Leading British showrunner Tony Jordan, the creator of detective drama “Life on Mars” and grifter thriller “Hustle,” says he may have to shoot his 20-part series “Dickensian” in Eastern Europe because he can’t find studio space in the U.K. for the BBC drama production set in 19th-century London.

“Early next year we need to be building this, and at the moment we have got nowhere to build it,” Jordan told the Independent newspaper Wednesday. “I’m not sure if I would want ‘Dickensian’ to be in Bulgaria or in Romania; it just doesn’t feel quite right. It should be in the U.K.”

Traditional sound studios, like those at Pinewood and Shepperton, are fully booked in the short-term as the U.K. production biz enjoys a boom period driven by the recent extension of tax credits to high-end television shows, so many productions have had to seek out alternative space such as warehouses and former factories, like the Gillette Building in West London, where “24: Live Another Day” shot.

Jordan intends to build a set that recreates 19th-century London with “ramshackle buildings, narrow alleys and precarious overhead walkways,” the Independent reported. The set will contain around 20 buildings that have featured in Dickens’ novels, including the Old Curiosity Shop and Fagin’s lair from “Oliver Twist.”

Other buildings include The Three Cripples pub from “Oliver Twist,” the Scrooge & Marley counting house from “A Christmas Carol,” Mr Venus’ taxidermy from “Our Mutual Friend,” and a legal practice, Tulkinghorn and Jaggers, which combines the lawyers from “Bleak House” and “Great Expectations.”

The set requires studio space totaling 50,000 square foot and 33 feet in height, and a crew of around 100 to build it. Jordan is looking to lease a warehouse to house the set for around 18 months.

Alex Jones, head of production and business at Jordan’s production company Red Planet Pictures, has been searching in vain for suitable space across the U.K. for the past nine months.

“During the recession there were no industrial buildings being built and as we came out of recession everyone was dying for that space,” Jones said. Most property owners are looking to lease their buildings over five or 10 years.

Red Planet may have to break down the set into three locations, although Jordan told the Independent this would “take away the sense of scale, the sense of wonder, all the things Dickens gives you.”

Jordan has written the storylines for the 20 half-hour episodes, in which the characters from the various novels will be brought together.

“I’m taking Charles Dickens’ characters and world and places you have read about, and doing what I think the youngsters call mashing it up,” Jordan said. “I’m running fast and loose with it. There will be some of my stories and some of Dickens’, there will be prequels and sequels and some will have different endings to the novels.”

More TV

  • Anya Taylor-Joy

    Anya Taylor-Joy to Star in 'The Queen's Gambit' Limited Series at Netflix

    Netflix has put out an order for a new limited series, “The Queen’s Gambit,” starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Variety has learned. Based on Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel of the same name, the six-episode show will be set during the Cold War era and will follow orphan chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Taylor-Joy) from the age of eight to [...]

  • Lucy Liu

    Lucy Liu's 'Unsung Heroes' in Development at ABC Studios International

    ABC Studios International has put anthology series “Unsung Heroes,” executive produced by Lucy Liu and Ruthanne Secunda, into development. The scripted show will tell the “untold stories of incredible women who overcame adversity to become pioneers of their time,” showcasing highly accomplished women who were not acknowledged for their achievements during their time. The first [...]

  • stream march madness 2019 online free

    NCAA Tournament: How to Stream March Madness Online

    The rankings are in, and the 68-team field is set. March Madness is officially upon us, and if you want to catch the action from home, from the office, or on-the-go, there are a couple ways to stream March Madness online for free. The first game kicks off today, and the tournament runs until April [...]

  • High Maintenance Renewed Season 2

    HBO Renews 'High Maintenance' for Fourth Season

    Half-hour pot comedy “High Maintenance,” created by Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair, has been renewed for a fourth season, announced HBO. Starring Sinclair, the premium cable comedy follows him as the Guy, a nameless drug dealer in Brooklyn whose business allows viewers a look into a cross-section of New Yorkers and their stories. HBO describes [...]

  • David Simon Rips Hollywood Agencies Over

    David Simon Rips Hollywood Agencies Over Packaging: 'It Is Theft. It Is Fraud'

    David Simon is urging the Writers Guild of America to file a lawsuit against the four biggest Hollywood talent agencies and the Association of Talent Agents over the practice of packaging. “I’m for filing a civil suit against the ATA and the Big Four for an overt and organized breach of fiduciary duty in which [...]

  • Brandi Carlile,Maren Morris. Brandi Carlile and

    ACM Awards Add Brandi Carlile, Kelly Clarkson, Dan + Shay to Performance Lineup

    Brooks & Dunn had a hit once called “Put a Girl In It,” and that’s just what the Academy of Country Music Awards have done, adding Kelly Clarkson, Brandi Carlile and Ashley McBryde to the lineup of performers for the April 7 telecast on CBS. While they’re at it, they also added Brooks & Dunn, [...]

  • Rory Kinnear

    Showtime's ‘Penny Dreadful: City of Angels’ Adds Rory Kinnear

    Rory Kinnear is returning to the world of “Penny Dreadful,” Variety has learned. The acclaimed British actor, who is best known for playing MI6 operative Bill Tanner in the James Bond films and portrayed the horrifically scarred Creature on the original show, has been cast in the role of Dr. Peter Craft in “Penny Dreadful: City [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content