Ray Winstone to star in BBC1’s Great Expectations

Ray Winstone is to star in a BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, the corporation said.

The three-part drama will be part of BBC One’s Christmas programming.

Sarah Phelps’ adaptation of the classic novel will form the centrepiece of the BBC’s celebration of the author as it marks the bicentenary of his birth in 2012.

In his first BBC television appearance in five years, Ray will star as Magwitch alongside Douglas Booth, who is to play Pip. Filming will begin in July in London.

Winstone said: “Great Expectations is my favourite novel, and I’m thrilled to be playing Magwitch.

“I’ve wanted to play him for ages, I’m really excited about Sarah Phelps’ take on the story and I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, added: “Sarah’s adaptation is both suspenseful and thrilling and the casting of Ray and Douglas for our visceral retelling will capture the hearts and guts of this classic to mark Dickens’ bicentenary year, especially for Christmas on BBC One.”

Sarah Phelps said: “Great Expectations is one of my favourite novels, an epic story about obsession, corruption, revenge, redemption and forgiveness.

“It is dark and complex, with the shadow of the gallows always present, but beating throughout is the passionate human heart. Ultimately it is a story of what we will do, what we will risk and just how far we will go for love.”

The BBC said the rest of the cast would be announced shortly.

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