Stephen Fry joins Bleak Expectations-inspired TV series

Friday 30th September 2011, 6:16pm

Stephen Fry.After months of speculation, a TV series based on Radio 4's hit sitcom Bleak Expectations has been confirmed.

The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff, which is "inspired by" the Dickensian adventure rather than being an adaptation of it, will start filming four programmes from Monday 3rd October.

The series, from Bleak Expectations creator and writer Mark Evans, will consist of 3 half hour episodes telling the story of a particular family in Victorian London. The show will launch on Christmas Eve with a separate 60-minute special, and is a BBC in-house production for BBC Two.

Speaking to the British Comedy Guide, Evans explained: "It is, essentially, in the same world, but with none of the characters from the radio series."

Unlike the much-loved Bleak Expectations, which is due to record its fifth and final series early in 2012, The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff will not be recorded in front of an audience, and will contain an entirely new set of characters.

Robert Webb is to star as the show's central hero figure, Jedrington, and Katherine Parkinson will play his wife, Conceptiva. The special Christmas episode will also feature Stephen Fry as villainous lawyer Malifax Skulkingworm. Sarah Hadland, a regular in Bleak Expectations and star of Miranda, will play the role of mean governess Miss Tightclench. The full line-up has yet to be confirmed, but other names set to appear include Johnny Vegas, Celia Imrie, Tim McInnerny, Webb's comedy partner David Mitchell and Kevin Eldon.

BBC Head of Comedy Mark Freeland said: "Mark Evans's already well-loved Victorian comic world is a wonderful way to celebrate the bicentenary of Dickens' birth. He probably wouldn't have agreed, but I am very excited."

Robert Webb added "I'm really looking forward to working with my all time hero David Mitchell. Apparently Stephen Fry is in it too, which is nice."

The "ridiculous Dickensian adventure" will be directed by Ben Gosling-Fuller and overseen by Bleak Expectations producer Gareth Edwards.

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