An adaptation and completion of Charles Dickens’ last novel, Edwin Drood, left unfinished at the halfway mark at his death on 9 June 1870
The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, a two-part drama for BBC Two by writer Gwyneth Hughes (Five Days, U Be Dead, Miss Austen Regrets and Blood Strangers) is a psychological thriller about a provincial choirmaster’s obsession with 17-year-old Rosa Bud (Tamzin Merchant) and the lengths he will go to to attain her.
John Jasper (Matthew Rhys) is a troubled man, his psyche split between darkness and light. He has spent his life in the stifling and claustrophobic cathedral town of Cloisterham in a state of frustrated ambition and has become addicted to opium in an attempt to still his ennui and expand his horizons.
But the opium is fracturing Jasper’s mind so that even as his soul reaches for the sublime in his music, his darker self has conceived a murderous hatred of his nephew Edwin Drood (Freddie Fox) who, he believes, stands between him and the lovely Rosa. The stage is set for a story of mental and moral decline as we discover exactly how far Jasper will go to attain the object of his desire.
Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two, says: “I have no doubt that this fantastic line-up will do justice to this wonderfully dark and twisted tale. The creation and dramatisation of an ending to Dickens’ unfinished work absolutely fulfils BBC Two’s ambition to offer truly unique and original British drama.”
Kate Harwood, BBC Controller, Drama Series & Serials, says: “Gwyneth’s sublime take on and completion of Dickens’ unfinished mystery is dark and engaging, amusing and gripping. The casting of Freddie Fox as Edwin Drood and Matthew Rhys as anti-hero John Jasper is a fantastic combination which, alongside the amazing cast of characters, will bring to new life a story that is fresh yet eternally Dickens as we celebrate his bicentenary year.”
Key cast list: Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters) as John Jasper; Rory Kinnear (Hamlet, Women In Love, Lennon Naked) as Reverend Septimus Crisparkle; Freddie Fox (Worried About The Boy, The Shadow Line) as Edwin Drood; Tamzin Merchant (Jane Eyre, Miranda, The Tudors) plays Rosa Bud; Alun Armstrong (New Tricks, Garrow’s Law) as Hiram Grewgious, Rosa’s guardian; Julia McKenzie (Cranford, Miss Marple) plays the Reverend’s mother, Mrs Crisparkle; David Dawson (Luther, The Road To Coronation Street) as Bazzard; Ron Cook (Little Dorrit) as Durdles; Sacha Dhawan (Five Days 2) as Neville Landless; Amber Rose Revah (House Of Saddam) plays Helena Landless, Neville’s twin sister; Ian McNeice (Doctor Who) as Mayor Sapsea; Janet Dale (Holby; Casualty) as Miss Twinkleton; Ellie Haddington (Luther) as Princess Puffer; and young Alfie Davis plays Deputy.
Writer, Gwyneth Hughes, says: “Who could resist the challenge of inventing an ending for Charles Dickens’ unfinished last work? The great entertainer left us only the first half of a dark hearted mystery tale, its impossibly young and vulnerable heroine pitted against one of the most creepy and chilling anti-heroes in English literature.
“The tragedy of the erotically obsessed cathedral choirmaster, John Jasper, throbs with sexual menace, murder and opium addiction. But alongside his story runs a brilliant small-town social comedy which is often laugh-out-loud funny. After all, this is Dickens, the great emotional extremist, and master of the rollercoaster ride. It’s just the most enormous fun.”
A strange, disturbing and modern tale about drugs, stalking and darkness visible, The Mystery Of Edwin Drood is currently in production for transmission later this year. Made in-house by BBC Drama Production for BBC Two, the two-part drama by writer, Gwyneth Hughes is a co-production with Masterpiece on PBS.
Commissioned by Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two and Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, the producer is Lisa Osborne (Little Dorrit, South Riding); director is Diarmuid Lawrence (Desperate Romantics, Little Dorrit, Emma, South Riding) and executive producers are Anne Pivcevic (Sense And Sensibility, Little Dorrit, South Riding and Great Expectations) and Rebecca Eaton for Masterpiece.
Rebecca Eaton says: “Masterpiece and the BBC have a long history of bringing brilliant Dickens adaptations to U.S. audiences. Our viewers now have Edwin Drood and the new Great Expectations to look forward to in 2012.”
The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, alongside Great Expectations on BBC One, forms part of the BBC’s celebration of Dickens as we go into the bicentenary of his birth, in 2012.