Tag Archives: Great Expectations

Lustbox: Gillian Anderson

INTERIOR . Meeting Room. Several people in office attire sit around a table.

HEAD OF DEPT: Now, if we can just get underway…

A woman in her late twenties, VELOCITY GIRL, bursts in, looking dishevelled.

VG: I am SO SORRY I am so late…

HEAD OF DEPT (wearily): What was it THIS time, VG? Broken down car? Cat vomit?

VG: No, actually it was *pauses* Gillian Anderson.

IT CHAP: What, the Thunderbirds dude?


FACILITIES MANAGER: You mean her that was Agent Scully in the X Files?

VG: Yes!

OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR: She was so good in that, she was serious enough to play a sceptical Dr…


IT CHAP: …whilst still being proper phwoar enough to win FHM’s Sexiest Woman In The World in 1996!

VG: The very same.

HEAD OF DEPT: So what happened to her after she was in it – she seemed to disappear for ages…

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Great Expectations (episode 3): Show me the money

But Pip! Me 'air's long now, an I looks like a gentleman.

So the Beeb’s Xmas showpiece reached its conclusion last night with Pip in a jam. Not only was the arrival of Magwitch a serious embarrassment to a young man with pretensions, but it left him with the problem of how to get rid of a villain wanted by both the constabulary and the rascally Compeyson. The latter, who was the ruffian from the fens and Miss Havisham’s old swain, had offered a reward of £1000 for Magwitch. Enough to tempt Orlick from the forge into making some mischief. Though to be fair Pip had crossed Orlick so many times he’d likely have interfered for nothing. How would Pip to get Magwitch to safety? Why, by leaving it to Wemmick and Herbert of course, while he was left free to make pained expressions and high-mindedly refuse anymore of Magwitch’s lucre.

Pip’s facial rictus became yet more pronounced when he found that Estella was to marry Bentley Drummle. This pushed him to stop forelock tugging and finally tell Miss Havisham a few home truths. Whether it was this or her continued rejections by Estella I’m not sure, but Miss H was inspired to test the flammability of her old wedding dress (while wearing it), giving Gillian Anderson a terrific death scene to top a riveting performance.

Let go! I want to marry that Drummle over there. His sneer's well-cool.

Generally things were conspiring to grind Pip’s (by now extremely taut) face in his former smugness, and the revelation that Estella was actually Magwitch’s daughter was just one of many hammer blows. From here we rather galloped to the denouement, leaving quite a few loose ends along the way.


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Great Expectations (episode 2): I know thee not old man (and possibly old woman)

I look nothing like Hercule Poirot, okay?

So Pip is off to a strangely smoke- and horseshit-free London to claim his fortune. For us this affords the pleasure of a closer look at David Suchet’s Mr Jaggers. An expert turn this, from an old trooper. Not only do we get the cold efficiency of a man whose skills are completely dedicated to Mammon, but also the merest hint of exasperation at the fecklessness of the young bucks for whom he has responsibility. One feels quite sorry for him really, especially as Pip immediately sets out on the predictable trajectory of a lad with more money than sense.

New furniture, tailored clothes, fine wines, an effete accent and squiggly handwriting: it seems that the nouveau-flush Pip doesn’t want to deny himself any indulgence. The only thing he doesn’t seem to have is a moral compass, a feature accentuated by the contrast with Herbert Pocket, his guide to the world of the gentry, who has given up money for love. Joe Gargery arriving at Pip’s gentleman’s club like the ghost of plebs past provokes mortification. As I said yesterday Joe is played by Shaun Dooley with a harder edge than in many other versions and this sharpens the chill in his relations with Pip. Rather than a confused buffoon we get a man with pride and integrity who loves Pip and is heartbroken by his slide into dilettantism. Still, with Pip’s post-Twilight looks I’m not sure how Joe could ever have thought he was blacksmith material.

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Great Expectations (episode 1): Who’s the sugar daddy?


Who you calling scum?

Certain things in life are inevitable. Death and taxes, said Benjamin Franklin, but he might have added the certainty that one day Ray Winstone would loom out of a misty fen to scare the shit out of Pip in a Christmas production of Great Expectations. The move from being a prisoner  mashing someone’s head with a sock full of snooker balls in Scum to being an escaped prisoner (Magwitch) threatening to cut out Pip’s throat allows Ray to show us his full range. Luckily for him, Pip is a blacksmith’s boy and well-placed to help file off some inconvenient fetters (which in true Scum-style immediately become a very convenient cosh). Alas to no avail as Magwitch, after  stopping to wrestle another ruffian,  is soon hauled off by the local soldiery.

Pip is not short of other grotesques in his life however, a number soon added to by his summons to the house of eccentric toff Miss Havisham.  The reassuring familiarity of Sexy Beast Winstone as a hooligan is more than balanced by the shock of Gillian Anderson popping up playing Miss H.  It seems a mere eye-blink ago that she was the sexy, sceptical Scully in the X-files and an object of fantasy for adolescent boys everywhere. How can she now be the ghostly jiltee with the cobwebby wedding cake? Clearly celebs age faster than the rest of us. It’s why they need all that plastic surgery and personal training.  It does suggest some interesting possibilities though; I’m already looking forward to next year’s TV with Justin Beiber taking over as Grandpa in my Pocket. Continue reading


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