Words by Mr Jeremy Langmead
Christmas just wouldn't feel right without a Mr Charles Dickens adaptation on the TV and, thank God, this year we won't have to put up with yet another rendition of A Christmas Carol. The BBC has dug a little deeper and, instead, decided to remake Great Expectations: a complex story of pride, vanity, debt, desire and, of course, expectations.
The production has brought together a stellar cast including Ms Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham, Mr Ray Winstone as Magwitch, Mr Mark Addy as Pumblechook, and relative newcomer Mr Douglas Booth as Pip.
Mr Booth, who was critically acclaimed for his performance last year as Boy George in the BBC drama Worried About the Boy, and is equally well-known for appearing on giant billboards across the globe between 2009 and 2010 as the face of a number of Burberry campaigns, is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with. It was recently announced that the 19-year-old actor has been cast as Romeo, opposite True Grit's Ms Hailee Steinfeld, in a new Shakespeare adaptation by the Oscar-winning screenwriter Mr Julian Fellowes.
Meanwhile, earlier this year he appeared opposite Mr Matt Smith in a drama about Mr Christopher Isherwood for the BBC, and finished filming the romantic comedy LOL opposite Ms Miley Cyrus and Ms Demi Moore. As a result, Mr Booth has spent the past few months flitting between London and LA where he is being wooed by studios and directors alike.
You would worry that the potent combination of absurd good looks, talent and charm - not to mention a No.2 listing on British GQ's Best-Dressed List last year - might prove rather fatal for someone so young but, happily, this hasn't proved to be the case. Mr Booth, who I should admit at this stage is a friend, has a wise head on his shoulders. This doesn't mean, however, that he is without fault. Some of these faults I shall now spitefully list here because I think it will be cheering to everyone that the actor is not quite perfect.
There. I hope that is of some comfort at least. If not, you can take heart in the fact that throughout much of Great Expectations poor Pip, portrayed beautifully by Mr Booth, gets picked on and teased by the mean and snobbish Estella (tantalisingly played by Ms Vanessa Kirby) and, of course, falls heavily into debt. At least Mr Booth will now know what it felt like to have to pick up that bill at Nobu (although, to be fair, he did try to pay. I'm not sure Pip would have).
Great Expectations begins on BBC One in the UK on 27 December. The DVD will be available from 9 January