The Secret Life of Books, BBC4 - TV review: EastEnders lead writer Tony Jordan explores Charles Dickens

Here's a programme to make you pick up unread classics and love your old favourites even more

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The Independent Culture

The original Miss H was born in the pages of Charles Dickens in his 1861 novel Great Expectations, of course. Some consider it his finest work – I'm more of a David Copperfield fan myself – but it certainly made an ideal starting point for The Secret Life of Books, a new six-part BBC4 series in which writers and performers give a personal take on favourite works of literature.

Last night former EastEnders lead writer Tony Jordan used his experience of populist drama to help us get to know the great-great-great grandfather of soap opera.

You can't truly appreciate Dickens's talent for cliffhangers until you've heard the 44th chapter of Great Expectations read aloud and accompanied by the EastEnders duff-duffs.

We were also treated to a thrilling look at the original manuscript (such tiny handwriting!) as Jordan tackled one of the great controversies of 19th-century literature: was Pip and Estella's happy(ish) ending a cop-out?

They say writing about music is like dancing about architecture and this attempt to capture books on screen may sound similarly absurd in theory.

In practice, Jordan's pirouettes were a pleasure to watch. Here's a programme to make you pick up unread classics and love your old favourites even more.

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