As those who read our roundups every month will have noted, most streaming services are investing in the British imports and co-productions game as part of filling out their coffers. But there's one glaring exception: The Walt Disney Company. Though the monolithic entertainment company has a far reach, there's little on Disney+ for anglophiles other than the occasional Royal Shakespeare company member playing superhero. Hulu is a different matter, but the Hulu Originals division's shows like Harlots predate the still underway Disney takeover. Its ongoing work with BBC Three is also a vestigial leftover from pre-merger times.
That makes FX's baby steps into the co-production game all the more interesting. The brand was a Hulu vertical for a little bit, but that ended quickly, and now it is an overarching brand under the Disney umbrella, like Lucasfilm or Marvel, whose shows will stream across all platforms and air on linear. More importantly, as part of its careful expansion, it's bringing quite a few shows in the next year or two to Hulu that will be of interest to anglophiles, much like 2020's Black Narcissus. The biggest is a new adaptation of the famous Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations, which recently set its cast and began filming in the U.K.
The project comes from Steven Knight, best known for Peaky Blinders. This isn't his first Dickens adaptation either; he recently was behind a new version of A Christmas Carol starring Tom Hardy that was aired over here on FX's linear channel. (Hardy was also an executive producer, along with Ridley Scott.) The adaptation was somewhat controversial, with implications of child molestation, forced prostitution, and a depiction of a child drowning, among other choices. It's not clear if the plan is to do the same for Great Expectations, but with Hardy and Scott both on board to executive produce again along with Knight, it seems likely this won't be your mother's version of the story.
The synopsis gives little away in terms of what audiences can expect from this version:
Great Expectations is the coming-of-age story of an orphan nicknamed "Pip." Dickens first released it in a series of weekly chapters beginning in December 1860 before it was subsequently published as a novel.
The headlining star of the series will be Oscar-winner Olivia Colman (The Crown), who will take on the famous role of the wedding dress wearing Miss. Havisham. Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk) will play the lead role of Pip. Other co-stars include Ashley Thomas (The Night Of), Johnny Harris (A Christmas Carol), Shalom Brune-Franklin (Line of Duty), and Hayley Squires (The Essex Serpent). Owen McDonnell (Killing Eve), Trystan Gravelle (The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power), and Matt Berry (What We Do in the Shadows) are also in the cast. Lucy Forbes (The End of the F***ing World) is the lead director.
Though no other titles were announced, FX and the BBC confirmed this is part of a long-term planned set of adaptations, most likely from Knight and company, as the two outlets plan for more miniseries based on Dickens' works. Notably, Great Expectations is planned to run six installments all told, double the count of A Christmas Carol, a three-parter.
No premiere date was set for Great Expectations, though a 2023 arrival date seems likely with filming just now underway. FX did not say whether the series will arrive as a binge drop or a weekly release, but the latter seems more likely since A Christmas Carol aired over a three-night span.