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Two of the stars of BBC1’s Dickensian, the new 20-part mash-up of Charles Dickens’ novels, have paid tribute to the ambitious undertaking that is simultaneously dark, bizarre and a great celebration of the literary icon’s tales.

Tom Weston-Jones plays Meriwether Compeyson (who famously jilted Miss Havisham in Great Expectations), while Joseph Quinn is his friend – and her brother – Arthur Havisham.

Tom said Arthur and Meriwether ‘interact a lot… The majority of the first few episodes for us is together. We do a lot of colluding, a lot of planning and plotting and mainly getting drunk together, actually, which is quite a lot of fun. Without giving away too much, the relationship sours at a certain point so that’s been a lot of fun to negotiate.”

Series creator Tony Jordan has gathered together Dickens’ minor characters and utilised the back stories of more significant characters to create a whole new world and Tom told What’s on TV that he loved just how bizarre some of the stories are.

He said many people had a false sentimentality about Charles Dickens, but he was very dark and wrote about some really unusual people, while Joseph said his character, Arthur, was a ‘very cool part to play. He’s a baddie, but he has many layers to him and [they’ve been] really fun to find out’.

Tom continued: “When I first heard about the series I was very curious abut how they’d pull it off, because it’s a huge undertaking. There’s something like 30… main characters, which is massive, I’ve never been in anything like that!”

Joseph added: “I think it is very ambitious and I think it’s very much a celebration of Dickens’ work, putting all of these characters that he’s come up with in one place is a very interesting way to kind of celebrate the genius of a very, very clever writer.”

Dickensian begins on BBC1 on Boxing Day. Watch the interview with Tom Weston-Jones and Joseph Quinn (which is slightly interrupted by their co-stars!) above.

WATCH Caroline Quentin talk about her horrible Dickensian character, Mrs Bumble.

WATCH Sophie Rundle and Tuppence Middleton talk about their characters in Dickensian.