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Steven Knight: I didn’t want to vandalise A Christmas Carol

Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight penned the script for the BBC adaptation of A Christmas Carol (Jacob King/PA)
Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight penned the script for the BBC adaptation of A Christmas Carol (Jacob King/PA)

Steven Knight has said that he did not set out to “vandalise” A Christmas Carol with his BBC adaptation.

The Peaky Blinders and Taboo writer recruited a star-studded cast for a dark retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Knight said he approached the story with “a lot of reverence” but had returned to the source material and drawn out some of the suggestions in the 1843 novella.

He told the PA news agency: “I am a huge fan of Dickens so I approached it with a lot of reverence.

“I didn’t want come along and take a classic and try and vandalise it, or discredit it or change it too much.

“What I did do was try to do a quite forensic analysis of the text and see things within the text that maybe have not been explored.

“There were many things that Dickens couldn’t talk about because of the sensibilities of the time when he was writing.

“I wanted to see some of the clues and some of the implications in the book and in the story, and see if I could develop and explore them, and hopefully do justice to what Dickens wrote.”

The three-part special is a joint venture between BBC One and American TV channel FX.

Its cast includes Stephen Graham as Jacob Marley, Charlotte Riley as Lottie, Joe Alwyn as Bob Cratchit and Vinette Robinson as Mary Cratchit.

Knight said he had wanted to examine the psyche of Scrooge, played by Guy Pearce, in his retelling.

Graham Norton Show – London
Guy Pearce stars as Ebenezer Scrooge (Isabel Infantes/PA)

He added: “There are a lot of issues in the original story about class and about economics and about politics and all of that I tried to explore and expand upon.

“Basically this is the story of a human being who rediscovers his heart who rediscovers compassion.

“What I wanted to do, when Dickens was writing, it wasn’t really the job of the novelist to necessarily find out why the character was the way he was.

“But now in this post-post-post-Freudian world one wonders why a character like that exists.

“What made him like that?

“What experiences did he have to make that happen?

“And so that’s what I have tried to look at.”

A Christmas Carol starts on December 22 at 9pm on BBC One.

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