Christopher Eccleston (The A Word, The Leftovers) takes the role of Fagin and David Threlfall (Shameless, Housewife, 49) plays Chief of Police, Sir Charles Rowan, in Dodger, a new ten-part family adventure set to air next year on CBBC and BBC iPlayer.
Playing Dodger is Billy Jenkins (The Crown) with Saira Choudhry (Life, No Offence) as Nancy, with filming already underway in Manchester and various locations around the north west.
A funny, optimistic, fast-paced comedy drama full of jeopardy, Dodger (10×45’) is set before the events of Charles Dickens’ iconic novel, Oliver Twist. There are some familiar characters and a whole gallery of colourful, new ones. Each episode is a standalone adventure brought together at the end of the series with some dramatic reveals and surprises.
Produced by NBCUniversal International Studios, Dodger follows the exploits of the infamous pickpocket, The Artful Dodger, and Fagin’s gang as they find ingenious ways to survive the grim and exploitative conditions of early Victorian London in the 1830s.
The group of young misfits is led by Dodger and his pickpocketing partner-in-crime, Charley Bates, a girl from the countryside with a mysterious past. Charley is played by newcomer Aabay Ali. They are joined by Polly (Ellie-May Sheridan), Tang (Mila Lieu) and Dodger’s adversary in the gang, Tom (Connor Curren). Together the orphans duck and dive their way through the criminal underworld, trying to make a better life for themselves, whilst satisfying Fagin’s pickpocketing demands and avoiding the hangman’s noose. The police are always just one step away with Sir Charles Rowan (Threlfall) becoming increasingly obsessed about how to deal with the gang and catch Dodger.
The cast also includes Sam C Wilson (Hanna) as Bill Sikes, Tanya Reynolds (Sex Education) as Queen Victoria, Lucy Montgomery (Disenchantment) as Fagin’s landlady, Minnie Bilge, and Frances Barber (Medici) as theatrical dame, Eliza Vestris. Javone Prince (Horrible Histories) plays inept copper PC Blathers and Rhys Thomas (The Fast Show, Brian Pern) takes an on-screen role as his partner PC Duff.
The series is written by Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery with Charlie Higson guest writing an episode. Rhys Thomas also directs alongside Hildegard Ryan.
Rhys Thomas says: “I have always loved Oliver Twist but wasn’t so keen on Oliver himself. I preferred the company of Dodger, Fagin and the gang. I thought it would be fun to create a family show with Dodger at its heart and see how he came to be a master criminal in Victorian London. Working with the very best material as a springboard, it’s a total delight to expand Dickens’ rich world of characters and create a few of my own. To top it all, we have an incredible cast who are starring in the show. I can’t wait for families all over the world to see it!”
Christopher Eccleston adds: “Fagin is an iconic role, I’m a very fortunate actor. Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery have taken Charles Dickens’ extraordinary characters and imagined a whole new world and lives for them. I’m very, very excited.”
Dodger is produced by NBCUniversal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group. Francis Gilson is Producer. Mark Freeland is Executive Producer for NBCUniversal International Studios. Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery also serve as Executive Producers. NBCUniversal Global Distribution is handling international sales. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Amy Buscombe.