The VV has only recently come to discover the long-running Radio 4 comedy drama that is called Bleak Expectations.Written by Mark Evans, the series is – just as its cunning title suggests – a comic pastiche of some of Charles Dickens’ greatest works, such as Great Expectations and Bleak House. 

Evans devises knowing swipes at all clichés 'Victorian' and thus we are plunged into a world where orphaned children find themselves in cruel schools, where sticky fingered urchins lurk on dark streets full of immoral women, alongside the adherents of temperance, and seekers of secrets who find themselves in the murky sphere of séances.

With the cast featuring such fine actors as Anthony Head, Tom Hollander, Celia Imrie, David Mitchell and Jane Asher, the acting cannot be faulted. And with episode titles like ‘A Childhood Cruelly Kippered’ or ‘A Young Love Mercilessly Dismembered’ and characters bearing the names Gently Benevolent or Harry Biscuit, the listener is left in little doubt as to the nature of this dramatic and often surreal beast – but for any who have not yet heard it, the VV offers her heartiest recommendation and will be most surprised if you don’t all laugh until your sides or bodices split – just as the VV’s did last week when hearing the following lines – I am as sane as a salamander…that most rational of amphibians.’

At the time of posting, the latest episode of Bleak Expectations, 'A now Grim Life Yet More Grimified', is still available on BBC iplayer's Listen Now. All previous series are available to buy on BBC Audio/Amazon


  1. I can't believe I didn't know this existed. A purchase may definitely be in order. Thanks for drawing my attention to it.

  2. I'm quite a new-comer to this wonderful series too. One of my 'resolutions' for 2011 was to get better at listening to the radio - there are so many wonderful radio series, adaptations and dramas and I feel I'm missing out!

  3. Oh, like Alison, I'm going to have to start listening to stations other than Radio Two, aren't I? I never thought I'd be old enough.. but THIS I have to hear!

  4. Thanks Charmed Lassie, Alison and Debs, |To be honest, I used to listen to nothing BUT radio 4 when I was in my twenties - Gardeners Question Time was the highlight of my week, not to mention The Archers - but as I've got older I've tended to become more frivolous, and Bleak Expectations certainly fits the bill!