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Dickens series commissioned ahead of anniversary

The BBC will screen a new version of Great Expectations ahead of the 200th anniversary of the birth of novelist Charles Dickens.

The three-part series will by written by Sarah Phelps, who adapted Oliver Twist for the corporation in 2007, and will be shown this Christmas on BBC1.

A BBC spokeswoman said the "bold new adaptation" would "give us the heart and guts of Dickens at his very best".

The novel is one of Dickens' best known works and has been filmed several times, notably in 1946 by David Lean with John Mills in the role of the orphan Pip.

Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812.

Details of the show were included in a raft of new drama commissions for the channel including a comedy drama about nursing nuns and a new spy thriller from the team behind Spooks.

BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said: "I hope that these commissions begin to express the range and creative ambition we want BBC One drama to capture in the coming years. There are great opportunities here for new writers, as well as a new commitment to blue-collar drama, and classic period pieces."

Six-part series Call The Midwife is based on Jennifer Worth's best-selling memoir about her experiences in the east end of London in the 1950s.