TV - Dodger

With a re-imagining of the escapades of Charles Dickens' streetgang of pickpockets coming to CBBC next month, read a short Q&A with Fagin himself, Christopher Eccleston...

Press Release

Welcome to the hilarious and hair-raising adventures of Dodger, Fagin, his gang and a colourful gallery of fantastic Victorian characters.

Written by Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery, the series follows the gang as they are down on their luck, ducking and diving their way through the tough London streets the gang are trying to keep one step ahead of the police as they embark on Dodger’s latest madcap scheme. Whether it’s acting in a haunted theatre, sneaking into Madame Tussauds, posing as a long-lost boy, printing their own dodgy money, a daring rescue from a hellish carnival, running the gauntlet with obsessive Egyptologist – even breaking into Buckingham Place - will the law finally catch up with Dodger and send him to the gallows? Hold onto your top hats, Dodger’s going to be one heck of a ride...

A stellar cast includes Christopher Eccleston, David Threlfall, Rhys Thomas, Saira Choudhry, Sam C Wilson, and Billy Jenkins as Dodger. With guest stars Colin McFarlane, Alex Kingston, James Fleet, Frances Barber, Danny John Jules, John Thomson, Tanya Reynolds, Phil Cornwell, Simon Day, Alexei Sayle, Catherine Shepherd, Samantha Spiro, Nadine Marshall, Cheryl Fergison, David Fleeshman, Julian Barratt, Andy Nyman, Paul Reynolds and Tim Downie.

Dodger is produced by Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group. Mark Freeland is Executive Producer for Universal International Studios. Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery also serve as Executive Producers. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Amy Buscombe.

Fagin, a great survivor, runs the gang of child pickpockets from a secret hideout above a dodgy pub near the East London docks. A complex, enigmatic, quick-tempered character with a tragic past, hinted at when he tearfully looks at a faded old family portrait. It’s clear that he cares a lot for his little gang – especially Dodger in whom maybe he sees his old self. The gang are his only real company. He doesn’t like silence. He is also exploiting them. However, as he often points out, if he wasn’t putting a (leaky) roof over their heads they would be on the streets, most likely starving or worse. He urges them to rob simply to survive. He wants them to beat the odds and lives by a strict robber’s code. Though he likes a laugh and often makes jokes, he is prone to periods of melancholy and is agoraphobic so rarely goes outside. He prefers to wait in the lair while his gang of mini criminals are out at work for him. He is constantly hassled for rent by his landlady, publican Minnie, but there is some kind of understanding between them.

What attracted you to this project?

I'd worked with the creators, Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery, on a couple of other smaller productions and I think they're brilliant writers, brilliant people. I love the fact that they bring, what I describe as a contemporary energy, which we don't traditionally see in more period pieces. They come from a world of comedy and I think that is what will appeal to audiences as it is a slightly irreverent approach to the genre.

As a child, as much as I adored the films, I wasn’t that interested in Oliver Twist. Because of my council estate background, I always wanted to know what happened to Fagin and the kids and how they survived. Rhys and Lucy have taken those characters and created a whole new set of back stories. Through Fagin and the gang, they look at the reality of what it was like to be the underclass in Dickensian London.

What is it like to play an iconic character like Fagin?

Fagin is an icon of world literature so people and actors are continually revisiting the character. This role is a reinvention, in a sense, of that iconic character.

Our Fagin is serious but also comedic. There’s a balance between drama and comedy. He’s tragic, which we hint at, which is why he invests emotionally. He parents the kids. But acts with tough love -he’s cruel but fair. The question is, does he love these children or is he exploiting them?

What was it like working with Billy and the other kids?

Rhys put a lot of energy into directing the children - he had a ‘let’s have fun’ approach. Lucy was the same and that’s why the children are so amazing. The young actors put a lot of love and passion into it. Billy is exceptional and a very gifted actor.

What do you hope audiences will take away from watching Dodger?

It's about a family. Fagin has created a family, so it’s about sibling and family dynamics. I want the audience to take pleasure from it. I want them to invest in the characters, invest in the relationships within the gang. I want them to laugh, I want them to cry and I want them to stay with us. They will also hopefully see themselves in Dodger.

On CBBC and BBC iPlayer from 6th February 2022.

Images - BBC / NBC Universal / Richard Lewisohn
Powered by Blogger.