Ray Winstone and Douglas Booth to star in Great Expectations

BBC OneThe BBC has revealed that Ray Winstone and Douglas Booth will star in Sarah Phelps new adaptation of Great Expectations.

BBC ONERay Winstone (Sexy Beast, Nil By Mouth, Vincent) will star as Magwitch, in Sarah Phelps’ (Oliver Twist, EastEnders) bold new adaptation of Great Expectations made by BBC Drama production for BBC One. In his first BBC television appearance in five years, Winstone will star alongside Douglas Booth (Worried About The Boy, Christopher And His Kind) as Pip.

“Great Expectations is my favourite novel, and I’m thrilled to be playing Magwitch. I’ve wanted to play him for ages, I’m really excited about Sarah Phelps’ take on the story, and I can’t wait to get stuck in.” – Ray Winstone

Due to start filming in July in London for transmission Christmas 2011, Great Expectations forms the centrepiece of the BBC’s celebration of Dickens as we go into the bicentenary of his birth, in 2012. Part thriller, part mystery, with a powerful love story at its heart and Dickens’ trademark wit and characterisation throughout, Sarah Phelps’ three-part adaptation embraces all of these qualities, delivering a vibrant, visceral, story.

“Sarah’s adaptation is both suspenseful and thrilling and the casting of Ray and Douglas for our visceral retelling will capture the hearts and guts of this classic to mark Dickens’ bicentenary year, especially for Christmas on BBC One.” – Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning

Eleven-year-old orphan, Pip, runs into an escaped convict on the marshes near his home. The convict, Magwitch, orders the boy to steal a file from his Uncle Joe’s forge to remove his shackles. The terrified Pip returns with the file and some food – and this innocent act of kindness is set to have far reaching consequences for them both.

Meanwhile, Miss Havisham the reclusive owner of grand Satis House, has requested a boy be sent to her; Pip is to be a playmate to her adopted daughter Estella. Miss Havisham encourages Pip to believe that he might be destined for a future beyond the marshes, a future linked to that of beautiful Estella. Pip’s hopes are dashed, though, when Miss Havisham pays for him to be apprenticed to Joe as a blacksmith; it seems his dreams of greater things were unfounded.

At first Pip struggles to come to terms with a life in the forge but eventually he accepts this as his fate. However, everything changes when a lawyer from London, Jaggers, makes a surprise visit. He informs the now adult Pip (Douglas Booth) that he is a young man of great expectations and will inherit a fortune when he becomes twenty-one. There is one condition. Pip must not enquire into the identity of his benefactor; this will remain secret until that person chooses to reveal themselves. In the meantime Jaggers is his guardian. Pip sets out for London leaving all he knows behind to pursue his new life, with his heart set on seeing Estella again.

“Great Expectations is one of my favourite novels; an epic story about obsession, corruption, revenge, redemption and forgiveness. It is dark and complex, with the shadow of the gallows always present, but beating throughout is the passionate human heart. Ultimately it is a story of what we will do, what we will risk and just how far we will go for love.” – Sarah Phelps, writer

A BBC co-production with Masterpiece on PBS for BBC One, Great Expectations is produced by George Ormond (Emma, Silent Witness); the director is Brian Kirk (Luther, Boardwalk Empire, Father And Son) and the executive producers are Anne Pivcevic (South Riding, Gracie! Little Dorrit) for the BBC and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece. Great Expectations was commissioned by Danny Cohen, Controller, BBC One and Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning.  Further casting to be announced shortly.