‘Peaky Blinders’ Scribe Adapting Dickens Classics for TV

BBC shows will be produced by Ridley Scott and Tom Hardy production companies

‘Peaky Blinders’ Scribe Adapting Dickens’ Novels
Debby Wong

Charles Dickens will get a TV makeover from the creator of “Peaky Blinders” after the BBC ordered a series of adaptations from Steven Knight, the writer of the hit gangster series.

The BBC also said Tuesday that David Heyman’s Heyday Television is adapting Andrea Levy’s novel “The Long Song.” The story, about the dying days of slavery in Jamaica, will be a three-parter for BBC One. Sarah Williams (“Small Island”) will pen the adaptation.

Knight will work on several Dickens shows that are designed ultimately to form a boxed set of the venerable author’s work. First up is “A Christmas Carol,” which will be made as a three-parter for BBC One. “Any question about narrative storytelling is answered by Dickens,” Knight said. “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.”

Ridley Scott’s Scott Free and Tom Hardy’s Hardy Son & Baker will produce the shows, reuniting the team behind British drama series “Taboo.” Scott and Hardy will exec produce. Scott said: “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.”

“A Christmas Carol” will be produced next year and air in the 2019 holiday season. British pubcaster the BBC has a long tradition of adapting Dickens for the small screen. As well as straight adaptations of classics including “Bleak House” and “Great Expectations,” it has aired comedy and factual series based on the author’s work. “A Christmas Carol” was adapted in the 1950s and again in the 1970s on the BBC.

The Dickens project was commissioned by BBC drama boss Piers Wenger. “Steven’s unique ability to reimagine the past and to turn it into must-see drama make him the perfect writer to reinvent Dickens’ most famous works for a new generation,” he said. “And in ‘A Christmas Carol,’ that most familiar of Dickens’ stories, he has found the perfect place to start.”

As for “The Long Song,” Wenger said: “Sarah’s script perfectly captures the unique tone of Andrea’s novel and skillfully brings this story of slavery in a British colony to life.”