Adrian Hodges, screenwriter
"Within the parameters of Adrian Hodges's adaptation, we've been fairly close to the book," says David Copperfield producer Kate Harwood. "We've made some choices: sometimes we are just a small beat beyond what Dickens intended. Sometimes we've changed things. Never hugely, but a little bit, to make things happen."
"I am a huge fan of Dickens and I knew David Copperfield quite well," explains screenwriter Hodges. "I was thrilled to be asked to do the script, but clearly you were looking at filtering out a vast amount of material as you search for the essence of the story."
The role of David in later life has been strengthened. The script is probably kinder than most to Dora, David's first wife. The fact that she died from the after-effects of a miscarriage is clarified too. James Steerforth has been given more of a conscience. The script intimates that he was coming back to Yarmouth to make amends when his ship is wrecked. Ham is also given the knowledge that he knew he was trying to rescue Steerforth, the man who stole his Emily.
With 800 pages of the book to condense, some characters and storylines have had to be left out or shortened. The characters who are in the television adaptation sometimes take on extra lines from those who aren't. For instance, in the script it is Creakle, not Mrs. Creakle (as in Dickens's book), who says to David: "When you left home to come here, was everyone well? Was your mother well? I hear this morning your mother is ill. She is dangerously ill. In fact, she is dead."
Hodges was aware that the production could offend lovers of the book by leaving out certain characters and changing parts of the book.
"For me, Dickens is the greatest prose writer in English and, along with Shakespeare, he is one of the two or three writers best known in the English language. I think anybody who adapts Dickens must be aware that you're dealing with a man whose ability to characterize is unique. Nobody can come up with characters like Dickens. Nobody has his energy as a writer. Nobody has his enormous range of humanity. I just hope lovers of the book will think I have done it justice."
Adrian Hodges worked as a journalist on Screen International before taking up writing full-time in 1990. His recent credits include the BBC's Lorna Doone, the film Metroland, and a co-writing project with Michael Hastings, Tom and Viv, for which Miranda Richardson and Rosemary Harris both received Oscar nominations. In 1998 his adaptation of John McGahern's novel Amongst Women for BBC TWO received a BAFTA nomination for Best Serial and won the Grand Prix award at the Banff Television Festival.
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