Charles Dicken's England

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The Independent Culture

That a documentary about the most exuberant comic novelist who ever lived should be quite so plodding as this is really a cause for shame.

Derek Jacobi, gurning like a pantomime dame, takes us on a tour not only of every surviving house where Dickens lived or stayed but of every landmark – from Broadstairs to London, from Barnard Castle to the Isle of Wight – that he included in the novels. The life was full and fascinating, yet the banal interviews, the inept reaction shots and the clunky observations contrive to make it seem dull. Cut it by an hour and it could be a good and useful introduction to Dickens for English GCSE students, but in its present form this has no place on a cinema screen anywhere.