TOBY JONES (The Detectorists, Sherlock, Harry Potter, Captain America) is to star in a new production of Charles Dickens’ ‘lost’ sequel to A Christmas Carol.
The Chimes, written by Dickens as a follow-up to his famous Christmas story, has never been adapted for television and has not been made into a film since 1914. Why? Because it’s much darker, stranger, and more radical. It’s written by Dickens the social campaigner. It’s a story about poverty – and the causes of poverty. It’s a story about the consequences of a cost of living crisis and the notion of the ‘undeserving poor’. It’s as relevant now as it was when it was written, back in 1844.
But it’s also uplifting, with a positive message about how everyone is needed and everyone deserves a better future. It’s Dickens pre-empting the Christmas classic movie, It’s A Wonderful Life.
The feature-length audio production also features David Horovitch (House of the Dragon), Lucy Speed (EastEnders), Laura Aikman (Casualty) and Victoria Alcock (Bad Girls). It is adapted by Jonathan Morris, directed by Lisa Bowerman and has sound design and music by Howard Carter. It is an Average Romp Production.
It is due for release on December 5th and can be pre-ordered now from www.averageromp.com
It was adapted by Jonathan Morris, directed by Lisa Bowerman and has sound design and music by Howard Carter.
The story concerns Toby Veck, a man who worries that he has become a burden on society, a man who wonders if his family would be better off without him. He’s troubled by a newspaper report about a young mother who recently killed herself, and her baby, by jumping off London Bridge. He’s been told that the poor don’t deserve sympathy, and that some people are just born bad and beyond redemption. And he’s starting to believe it…
But on New Year’s Eve, the Chimes set out to prove him wrong.
Producer, Jonathan Morris: “Every Christmas, there are dozens of new adaptations of A Christmas Carol – but nobody ever does the story that Dickens wrote the following year as a thematic sequel. While A Christmas Carol is about a rich man learning to love, The Chimes is about a poor man, driven to despair, learning that his life has meaning and that he is needed and loved. In many ways, it pre-empts Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life.
So why hasn’t it been made into a film (since 1914!) or ever adapted for television? Well, it is much darker and stranger than A Christmas Carol, but I think the main reason is that it was written by the Charles Dickens the radical social reformer. It’s Dickens showing his anger at the poor being written-off, trapped in poverty and unable to improve their lot. There’s a lot of anger at the hypocrisy of politicians, magistrates and self-congratulatory philanthropists who claim to be on the side of the ‘deserving poor’ while condemning those who become poor through no fault of their own. And along the way the story touches on issues like domestic violence, rogue landlords, alcoholism, mental illness, and prostitution. It’s about how that young mother ended up killing herself and her child. What would drive somebody to do that?
Which doesn’t sound very Christmassy but then, It’s A Wonderful Life does the same thing. And, like It’s A Wonderful Life, The Chimes ultimately has a positive message, reminding us that everyone is needed, everyone is valued, and that everyone deserves the chance of a better future. Which is why it is so relevant. It’s Dickens writing about people being forced into poverty during a cost of living crisis. It may be Dickensian, but it’s a story about 2022.”
It can be pre-ordered now for £10 from www.averageromp.com (the price will increase after the release date).
Producer, Jonathan Morris: “When it came to casting, we had one goal; to cast it with the same people who would be in it if it was on television on BBC One in 2022.”
The Chimes stars:
TOBY JONES as Toby Veck; Toby is one the UK’s best-loved actors, known for starring roles in The Detectorists, Sherlock and Doctor Who and for films including Infamous, Frost/Nixon, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, the Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games series, the Captain America series and the forthcoming fifth Indiana Jones film.
DAVID HOROVITCH as the Narrator; David is currently starring as Grand Maester Mellos in House of the Dragon. He is perhaps best known for playing Inspector Slack in the BBC’s Miss Marple series, as well as major roles in The Man with the Iron Heart and The Young Victoria.
LUCY SPEED as Meg. Lucy’s roles include Natalie Evans in EastEnders, Stevie Moss in The Bill, Bet Baker in Cradle to Grave and Marnie Barton in Unforgotten. She is currently a regular in The Archers, as Stella Pryor.
LAURA AIKMAN as Lillian; Laura’s credits include May Phelps in Casualty and Lorna Hutchinson in Waterloo Road as well as recurring roles in the sitcoms Teenage Kicks, Citizen Khan, Bluestone 42 and So Awkward.
VICTORIA ALCOCK as Mrs Chickenstalker; Victoria’s roles include Carol in People Just Do Nothing, Julie Saunders in Bad Girls, Agnes Clarke in The House of Eliot and Angela in the Doctor Who episode Planet of the Dead.
OWEN OAKESHOTT as Will; Owen’s extensive theatre credits include work with Trevor Nunn at the Rose Theatre and National Theatre, and most recently the lead role in Witness For The Prosecution at County Hall.
JACK FORSYTH-NOBLE as Richard; Jack’s most recent roles are as George Glover in Life After Life and Toby in Upon the Edge.
DAVID SHAW PARKER as Mr Tugby; David’s recent appearances include Last Train to Christmas, The Crown and Victoria. He also voiced Old Joe the Spider in The Muppet Christmas Carol.
MATT DEVEREAUX as Alderman Cute; Matt began his career as Max in Crocodile Shoes and has subsequently worked with the Penny Dreadful Theatre Company as well as voicing Brady’s father in Brady’s Beasts.
ALAN BLYTON as Mr Filer; Alan’s most recent film role is as Gerald March in Swiperight.
DUNCAN WISBEY as Sir Bowley; Duncan is a member of the Dead Ringers team and recently starred in the sitcom Hard Cell.
And LISA BOWERMAN as Lady Bowley; Lisa is currently playing Julianne in The Archers. Her television work includes Sandra Mute in Casualty, and roles in Coronation Street and the Doctor Who stories Survival and Dreamland. She also originated the character Bernice Summerfield for Big Finish.
As a director, Lisa has been responsible for much of Big Finish’s output, including the Jago & Litefoot series (in which she also starred), the HG Wells adaptations, Torchwood, Sapphire & Steel and Blake’s 7.
JONATHAN MORRIS is one of the most prolific Doctor Who spin-off writers, having written approximately 80 audios for Big Finish, including the Russell T Davies adaptation Damaged Goods. For Average Romp, he has written and produced When Michael Met Benny and the Dick Dixon series.
HOWARD CARTER has written music and designed sound for films, computer games and numerous Big Finish productions, including Jago & Litefoot.
The play was recorded by Gerry O’Riordan at The Soundhouse on the 4th and 5th August 2022.