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The tale of Oliver Twist follows the fortunes of a poor young orphan boy. Bleasdale's version begins before the child is born, then takes us on his journey through early life.

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The tale of Oliver Twist follows the fortunes of a poor young orphan boy. Bleasdale's version begins before the child is born, then takes us on his journey through early life. Along the way we visit different parts of England in the early 19th century. Fundamentally Oliver Twist can be divided into three worlds: the world of Mr Brownlow and the Flemings the world of the Workhouse, the coastal town the world of Fagin in London The World of Mr Brownlow and the Flemings These are the well-heeled members of English society, living in pleasant houses in the country and, in Brownlow's case, also in Pentonville, London which was a very refined area. Producer Keith Thompson says, " It was the toffs world, which required country houses and cottages, which England obviously has an abundance of." Most of these scenes were shot to the west of London, mainly in the Chilterns - in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. Brownlow's country house in Chertsey is shot at Nether Winchendon House in Buckinghamshire. Designer Malcolm Thornton explains: "This firmly places Brownlow as a gentleman from the top drawer, who comes from old money. It is a large country house which is earthy and solid." The exteriors for his London home in Pentonville were shot in Kings Bench Walk and Middle Temple in London with the interiors shot in the studio. "Brownlow's London home will show him as a bachelor," says Thornton. ...read more.


Zatec offered deserted streets, a square, unrestored old buildings and virtually no residents. The crumbling old buildings were perfect for us, and all its alleyways mean that we could create the right atmosphere for Fagin's gang." Most of the interiors, including Fagin's den itself were shot in the huge Barrandov Studios in Prague. "We chose to put Fagin in an old run-down merchant's house. At that time a lot of that class of people moved out of town and the vagabonds and criminals moved in. Fagin and his gang crawl into the house through a hole in the wall and make use of everything they find. The place had an atmosphere of faded gentility, but was also dirty and crumbling." For the big scenes at the end of the story where Fagin and Sikes are chased over the buildings, the unit moved to the historic town of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. There they used the castle, and the nunnery, before going up onto the roof tops where the actual chase took place. "We went there on a recce, and found our way up into the rooftops. By pure chance we bumped into a Czech architect who was a specialist in medieval ruins and rooftops. He showed us all these interlinking corridors between the buildings. It ended up on a gantry by the edge of a river, which was exactly what we needed. Meeting him and finding this was a pure moment of serendipity." ...read more.


He has scars on him and he's a big drinker, so his eyes are bloodshot, so he's like an alley cat out robbing people at night - there's a blackness to him which we have to reflect." Boozing is part of the life of the poor and part of life in the workhouse. The hysterically funny Mrs. Mann, as played by Julie Walters, and her long suffering partner Mr. Bumble are often to be found having a quiet tipple while death and hardship wreaks havoc on those around them. She and Bumble are one social step up from the inhabitants of the workhouse, but they are surrounded by the horrors of death and suffering every day. "Mr. Bumble and Mrs. Mann are one step up from the poorest characters, they are still boozy, but have a slightly better quality of life. As Mrs. Mann drinks a fair bit, we've put broken veins on her to give her that gin-laden look, but we've kept her warm round face. We had quite a lot of fun with her hair style, which a lot of the time is quite tightly packed, apart from on her wedding day where she goes slightly wild and has this rather extravagant attempt at a stylish cut. After the marriage when things immediately go downhill, she has a quite severe hair style, what we call 'The Piano Look' -or Holly Hunter on Gin! It's a small touch, but a good one and Julie carries it off to great effect." ...read more.

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