Richard Madeley slams BBC’s Great Expectations over suicide storyline

ITV GMB debate whether to ‘keep the kink out of Dickens’

The BBC’s latest adaptation of Great Expectations, which has been created by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, was lambasted by Richard Madeley on Wednesday’s instalment of Good Morning Britain. Richard slammed protagonist Pip Pirrip’s suicide attempt in the opening episode which “is not in the book at all”.

Great Expectations landed on BBC One in March, with The Crown’s Olivia Colman portraying spinster Miss Havisham, Fionn Whitehead taking on the lead role of Pip and Johnny Harris transforming into escaped convict Abel Magwitch.

The beloved Dickens’ novel has been adapted several times over the decades and BBC viewers had high hopes for the latest remake.

Only two episodes have aired so far, and they have been met with mixed reviews as Miss Havisham is an opium addict and Pip’s sister, Mrs Sara Gargery (played by Hayley Squires), makes money performing Sadomasochism on men.

Good Morning Britain host Richard lambasted the writer’s decision to make a young Pip suicidal in the adaptation.

He raged: “It appears they have made an adaptation which actually diminishes the book and a lot of people would agree with that.

“I mean Mr Pumblechook [Matt Berry], in the book was this bumbling character and in this, he has turned into a serious fetishist.

“In episode one, which is not in the book at all, it’s completely invented, when Pip is seen about to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge.

“Again, that has nothing to do with the book… The opening of Great Expectations reads like a belter, why would you add in a suicide attempt?”

However, ITV guest Adele Parks, who is a best-selling author, argued: “When Charles Dickens was alive, he was limited with what he could write about.

“If he thought Pip might have been suicidal, and he might have been – it is an interpretation as he was a very desperate young man – then he would not have been able to write about that.”

Doctor Peter Orford disagreed with Adele and confirmed Dickens did write about suicide in some of his other novels.

He said: “The Chimes has suicide, The Mystery of Edwin Drood has drugs, and Oliver Twist has prostitutes, so he does write about it elsewhere.

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“It’s choosing the right text for the right adaptations, and here they are working against what Great Expectations is all about.”

Adele argued there was room for “creative expression” but Richard chimed in: “But why make Miss Havisham an opium addict?”

She admitted she didn’t know why that creative choice was made but continued to defend the latest BBC adaptation.

ITV viewers were divided over the debate, with many reminding Richard the series is an adaptation of a famous book.

Chris Westhead said: “An adaptation is precisely that and created without the restriction of the exact words and deeds scripted. The screen v book arguments often miss the point.” (sic)

However, Sandra shared: “Not watching anymore. The first one was great, but now I’m just not going to bother. Leave things alone – not everything needs to be ‘kinked up’ – it gets very tedious.”

Sharron replied: “I mean kink did exist in Dickens’ time… Or do you think that it’s a modern invention?”

Good Morning Britain airs on weekdays between 6am and 9am on ITV and ITVX.

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