Blackpool Grand features in hit BBC children’s drama DODGER

15 February 2022

What the Dickens!

Blackpool’s beautiful Grand Theatre features in an exciting episode of the brand-new BBC and NBC Universal International Studios children’s drama DODGER!

Binge on the first five episodes of the classic Charles Dickens tale now on BBC iPlayer and be transported back in time to the wonder of Victorian England and enjoy the beauty of Blackpool Grand’s Grade 11* listed building in Episode Five as it was first experienced!

It’s great half-term holiday viewing for all the family!

 The Grand Theatre is featured right from the very beginning of the action-packed episode of the Oliver Twist prequel 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.

Click here to watch…

The ‘boisterous and amusing drama’ is currently trending on BBC iPlayer and has hit all the right notes with reviews describing it as ‘channelling the energy of Horrible Histories’; ‘will help get young people back into Dickens!’ and ‘comes close to reminding us of current limes of reduced heating, fuel and food shortages – cue a big helping of Dickens.’

DODGER is a CBBC production and is an Oliver Twist spin-off (produced by NBCUniversal International Studios) and conceals not a thing of the squalid shortages of a 19th-century life as a young child. Welcome to a world of sickening health and shivering shamelessness living conditions….

This ten-part family adventure series is a prequel to the events of the famous Charles Dickens’ novel and stars Christopher 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.

Filming of the series took place across the Northwest, including Blackpool’s iconic Victorian theatre, Blackpool Grand. Filming at the venue took place during the theatre’s closure as a performance venue during 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.’

DODGER was created and written by Emmy award-winning Rhys Thomas and Lucy Montgomery, with Charlie Higson guest writing an episode. Rhys Thomas also directs alongside Hildegard Ryan and DODGER is one of several new BBC dramas set to air over the coming year.

Christopher 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. I love the fact that they bring, what I describe as a contemporary energy, which we don’t traditionally see in more period pieces. They come from a world of comedy and I think that is what will appeal to audiences as it is a slightly irreverent approach to the genre.

‘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 back stories. Through Fagin and the gang, they look at the reality of what it was like to be the underclass in Dickensian London.’

The Grand Theatre has appeared in many films and TV series including for BBC, ITV and Channel 5. The Grand was very happy to work with the production team at NBCUniversal International Studios to help return the theatre to the Victorian era.

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 is a funny, optimistic, fast-paced comedy drama full of jeopardy, set before the events of Charles Dickens’ iconic novel, Oliver Twist. There are some familiar characters and a whole gallery of colourful, new ones. What is great is that each episode is a standalone adventure brought together at the end of the ten-part series with some dramatic reveals and surprises.

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.

The group of young misfits is led by Dodger and his pickpocketing partner-in-crime, Charley Bates – a girl from the countryside with a mysterious past. Charley is played by newcomer Aabay Ali. They are joined by Polly (Ellie-May Sheridan), Tang (Mila Lieu) and Dodger’s adversary in the gang, Tom (Connor Curren). Together the orphans duck and dive their way through the criminal underworld, trying to make a better life for themselves, whilst satisfying Fagin’s pickpocketing demands and avoiding the hangman’s noose. The police are always just one step away with Sir Charles Rowan (Threlfall) becoming increasingly obsessed about how to deal with the gang and catch Dodger.

Rhys Thomas, creator, writer, director and executive producer said ‘I would describe Dodger as an historical comedy adventure series for the whole family. It is funny, dramatic, sometimes sad but, the main thing is, it moves very quickly.

‘It’s a very fast paced action-adventure series with a lot of laughs. It takes familiar characters and gives them a new life within its own original story. I don’t know what Charles Dickens would think, but we’ve created our own backstory for these characters.’

 The cast also includes Sam C Wilson (Hanna) as Bill Sikes, Tanya Reynolds (Sex Education) as Queen Victoria, Lucy Montgomery (Disenchantment) as Fagin’s landlady, Minnie Bilge, and Frances Barber (Medici) as theatrical dame, Eliza Vestris. Javone Prince (Horrible Histories) plays inept copper PC Blathers and Rhys Thomas (The Fast Show, Brian Pern) takes an on-screen role as his partner PC Duff.

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 or call the Box Office on 01252 290 190.

Tags: News
© 2024 Marketing Lancashire