Iconic Lancashire theatre makes appearance in CBBC Charles Dickens adaptation
Blackpool’s iconic Grand Theatre has made an appearance in CBBC Oliver Twist spin off series, Dodger, which stars Christopher Eccleston.
The Grand Theatre, on Church Street, is featured right from the very beginning of episode five of the series, as Fagin’s gang fight to save Tang’s life, Dodger scores a leading role at a haunted theatre and Polly strikes a questionable deal with the enemy
Filming at the venue took place during the theatre’s closure as a performance venue duing Covid-19.
Blackpool Grand Chief Executive, Ruth Eastwood, said: "The timing of the filming was vital to the theatre and really helped towards the theatre’s running costs while closed."
This ten-part family adventure series is a prequel to the events of the famous Charles Dickens’ novel and stars Eccleston (The A Word, The Leftovers) as Fagin, and David Threlfall (Shameless, Housewife, 49) as Chief of Police, Sir Charles Rowan. Playing Dodger is Billy Jenkins (The Crown) with Saira Choudhry (Life, No Offence) as Nancy.
Following the exploits of the infamous pickpocket, The Artful Dodger, and Fagin’s gang as they find ingenious ways to survive the grim and exploitative conditions of early Victorian London in the 1830s.
Eccleston talked about what attracted him to the project: "I’d worked with the creators, Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery, on a couple of other smaller productions and I think they’re brilliant writers, brilliant people.
"As a child, as much as I adored the films, I wasn’t that interested in Oliver Twist. Because of my council estate background, I always wanted to know what happened to Fagin and the kids and how they survived. Rhys and Lucy have taken those characters and created a whole new set of backstories.
"Through Fagin and the gang, they look at the reality of what it was like to be the underclass in Dickensian London."
Ruth Eastwood, Blackpool Grand Theatre Chief Executive said ‘We were delighted to be approached by the production company and the director, from the moment they arrived in our venue they were delighted with the setting, and even wanted to change how scenes were filmed to fit with the venue.
‘The theatre as many will know is committed to and known in the Northwest for presenting high-quality children’s drama. This season’s highlights include George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful – two incredible classics. The theatre will also see the return of distinguished children’s companies Northern Ballet (with Pinocchio) and Birmingham Stage Company with David Walliam’s hit Gangsta Granny.’
Dodger started on CBBC, 6 February 2022, and can be streamed as a boxset via BBC iPlayer. or on Sundays 5:30pm CBBC.
Book for some of the incredible children’s drama at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre by visiting www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk or call the Box Office on 01252 290 190.