Meet the cast and characters of Little Dorrit
Click on any of the major characters in Little Dorrit to learn more about how they fit in the story, and also about the careers of the actors who portray them.
Amy Dorrit, nicknamed "Little Dorrit," is the good-hearted, quiet daughter of William Dorrit. She has devoted herself to taking care of her father in debtor's prison, while also watching over her self-absorbed sister Fanny and wayward brother Edward "Tip."
Claire Foy was cast as Amy Dorrit after four auditions, but according to published reports, she remained convinced until the last moment that producers would turn around and say they had made a mistake. Foy had only one other job since leaving the Oxford School of Drama in 2007 before being cast in Little Dorrit. Foy says there is more to her character than her timid, quiet exterior. "On the inside, she is this wonderfully strong, driven and practical person," Foy said. In 2010, Foy will be seen in Season of the Witch alongside Nicholas Cage.
Amy's father, William Dorrit has been in debtor's prison for many years, and has turned himself into somewhat of an attraction, being billed "the father of the Marshalsea."
For two-time Oscar-nominated actor Tom Courtenay, one attraction of working on Little Dorrit was the opportunity to be reunited with an old friend. "Andrew Davies [the screenwriter] and I are very old friends; we were at university together," Courtenay said. Another motivator was his appreciation for Dickens, one of his favorite authors. From distinctly working class roots (the son of a father who painted boats, and a mother who earned extra money by making nets), Courtenay has had an accomplished theatrical and film career. On stage, he has portrayed Uncle Vanya and King Lear among many others, and has been seen in motion pictures such as The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Doctor Zhivago, The Dresser and The Golden Compass. Courtenay was knighted in 2001 in recognition of his stage and screen work. In addition to his acting credits, Courtenay wrote Dear Tom: Letters From Home, a memoir that includes letters written by his mother.
Fanny Dorrit, older sister of Amy, is sharp and determined not to be outdone. She works as a dancer and has a lot of gentleman admirers, including Edmund Sparkler.
Emma Pierson's acting career started at age 17 in the BBC television series Grange Hill. Other British television credits include Hotel Babylon and Talk to Me. Pierson is known for her comedic work, having often appeared with British comics Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller. Pierson explains that she understood her character immediately. "Fanny's a tough little cookie," Pierson said. "She's a bit of a madam and is absolutely her father's daughter. He has taught her that whatever her circumstances, she is still a lady. She believes that with all her heart, despite the evidence to the contrary."
Frederick Dorrit, a well-meaning man, is the brother of William Dorrit.
James Fleet was gripped by the Little Dorrit script the moment he opened it. "It's such a rattling good story," Fleet said. "They sent me all 14 scripts, and I read them extremely quickly." Fleet, who may be most known for his role as Hugo in The Vicar of Dibley, has also appeared in films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, Sense And Sensibility (1995) and on Masterpiece in Frenchman's Creek.
Edward "Tip" Dorrit
The brother of Amy and Fanny, Edward Dorrit is irresponsible, haughty and driven by the pursuit of pleasure.
Arthur Darvill trained at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). In addition to his stage and television work, Darvill is a musician and composer.
Maggy lives near the Marshalsea prison, and is lovingly looked after by her friend Amy Dorrit. The granddaughter of Amy's old nurse, Maggy suffered with an illness as a child that left her mentally challenged.
Eve Myles has a variety of theatrical and stage credits to her name. On British television, she has appeared in Torchwood and Belonging among others. Stage roles include Henry IV (alongside Michael Gambon) and Titus Andronicus. For Myles, the part of Maggy was one of the biggest challenges of her career. "It's about being truthful without being patronizing." Myles said. "I must admit it was an incredibly tough role to play, but in the end I found it so rewarding."
At the helm of the House of Clennam, Mrs. Clennam harbors a secret from her son Arthur.
While not exactly likeable, actress Judy Parfitt insists her character isn't such a bad person. "She has simply been living in these depressing circumstances for too long," Parfitt said. "She's in the same decaying dress in the same decaying room all the time." Parfitt, who made her stage debut in 1954, has extensive theater, TV and film experience. On TV, she has appeared in British and US productions such as The Jewel in the Crown, Funland and ER. On film, she has been seen in Maurice, Dolores Claiborne and Girl with a Pearl Earring, among others.
After his father's death, Arthur Clennam returns home plagued by his father's cryptic last words. He senses the possibility of some wrongdoing involving his family, and begins a quest to uncover it.
Matthew Macfadyen may be most recognized to US audiences as Mr. Darcy in the film Pride and Prejudice alongside Keira Knightley, and more recently as John Birt in Frost/Nixon. On television, one of Macfadyen's first appearances was on Masterpiece in the 1999 version of Wuthering Heights, and more recently in The Way We Live Now. Macfadyen is also known for his work in the British TV series Spooks (MI-5 in the US). Macfadyen is married to actress and MI-5 co-star Keeley Hawes. Macfadyen had no hesitation accepting the role of Arthur Clennam. "This story really blew my hair back," Macfadyen said. "Then when the rest of the casting came through, I couldn't believe my luck. I've been in some sexy casts in my time, but nothing quite like this!"
Jeremiah Flintwinch is a gnarled old man who is Mrs. Clennam's servant and right-hand man. Just how loyal he is to his Mrs. Clennam finally remains questionable.
A Dickens fan, accomplished actor Alun Armstrong has appeared in a number of high-profile Dickens' adaptations. Masterpiece fans will remember him as Bucket in Bleak House and Daniel Peggotty in David Copperfield. Armstrong also appeared in Roman Polanski's 2005 film version of Oliver Twist and in the 1982 version of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. Recently, Armstrong has been seen on Masterpiece in Filth as Mary Whitehouse's husband Ernest.
Affery Flintwinch is the weak wife of Jeremiah Flintwinch.
Needing a regular income to support a young son, Sue Johnston auditioned for and won a role on a British soap opera. Since then, she's evolved into a versatile actress. Johnston won a British Comedy Award and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) nomination for her role in The Royle Family. Johnston received acclaim for her portrayal of a woman suffering with a motor neuron disease in Goodbye Cruel World. On Masterpiece, Johnston has been seen in My Uncle Silas.
John Chivery is the assistant turnkey at the Marshalsea Prison. He's madly in love with Amy Dorrit, but it doesn't seem she is romantically interested in him.
Actor Russell Tovey started acting at the age of 10. His breakthrough role was in the stage and film versions of Alan Bennett's The History Boys. On stage, Tovey has appeared in a number of productions at London's National Theater including His Dark Materials, His Girl Friday and Henry V. Television credits include the British TV series Annually Retentive and Being Human. Tovey was previously seen on Masterpiece in My Family and Other Animals. Andrew Davies says of Russell Tovey's performance, "I think he comes out as one of the most lovable characters in the whole thing."
The turnkey at the Marshalsea Prison, Mr. Chivery is the father of John. He has kept watch over Mr. Dorrit for many years.
Ron Cook has a considerable list of theatrical, television and film credits to his name. On stage, Cook has appeared in productions such as Twelfth Night (alongside Derek Jacobi), The Seafarer and Juno and the Paycock (which earned him a Laurence Olivier Award in 2000). Cook has appeared on Masterpiece in titles such as The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Lost Prince, Casanova, He Knew He Was Right and Filth. Cook's film credits include Chocolat, Hot Fuzz, and Topsy Turvy among others.
An immensely wealthy banker and husband to Mrs. Merdle, Mr. Merdle is widely revered as "The Man of the Age."
A graduate of the London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), Anton Lesser has had a notable theatrical career including appearances in The Winter's Tale, Romeo and Juliet, Cymbeline and others at London's Royal Shakespeare Company. Television credits include Masterpiece's The Politician's Wife and Murder Rooms: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes among others. He played Charles Dickens in the British television biopic Dickens, and the role of Harold Warne in the film Miss Potter.
The wife of wealthy banker Mr. Merdle and mother of Edmund Sparkler by a previous marriage, Mrs. Merdle moves within the circles of high society.
A regular on British television since the 1980s, some of Amanda Redman's credits include New Tricks, At Home with the Braithwaites, Honest and Hope and Glory. On film, she appeared alongside Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast. For Redman, portraying Mrs. Merdle was great fun. " She's so peculiar and larger than life," Redman said. "She's the queen of society and is obsessed with status. She is riding very high."
The son of Mrs. Merdle by a previous marriage and heir to the Merdle fortune, Edmund Sparkler is infatuated with Fanny Dorrit.
Sebastian Armesto has been seen in British television series such as The Palace and on film in Marie Antoinette. He will appear in the forthcoming Jane Campion film Bright Star.
A devoted family man, Mr. Meagles is troubled by the thought of his daughter Pet marrying Henry Gowan and by the mysterious influence that Miss Wades holds over Tattycoram.
Bill Paterson has been seen in numerous Masterpiece productions such as Wives and Daughters, Dr. Zhivago, Othello, Traffik and Hard Times. Born in Glasgow, Paterson got his professional start in theater in 1967, and has worked on stage often. On film, Paterson has been seen in Miss Potter, Amazing Grace and The Killing Fields among others.
A kind-hearted wife and mother of Pet, Mrs. Meagles is not always as sensitive as she could be to Tattycoram's place within the family.
Janine Duvitski's television credits include the British comedies Waiting For God and One Foot In The Grave. On film, she has been seen in About a Boy and The New World. On the British stage, Duvitski has appeared in productions of The Relapse, The Coast of Utopia and On the Town among others. She originated the role of Angela in Mike Leigh's play Abigail's Party.
The pretty and spoiled Pet Meagles is pursued by two suitors — Henry Gowan and Arthur Clennam.
Georgia King made her professional debut as Rosamond Oliver in Masterpiece's Jane Eyre (a part she nearly had to give up after having a ruptured appendix), and has also been seen on the series in The Shadow in the North. She also appeared in the film The Duchess.
An orphan, Tattycoram is taken in by the Meagles family, but ultimately finds herself frustrated with how she is regarded. Tattycoram falls under the manipulative influence of Miss Wade.
Freema Agyeman had always wanted to be involved in a period drama, so was thrilled to play the role of Tattycoram. Agyeman, born to a mother from Iran and a father from Ghana, was especially delighted given Tattycoram was not written in Dickens's book as a black character. "She's an orphan, and in the 1820s there was a general prejudice against anyone who wasn't from an upper-class background. So the idea transposed well to a black character." Agyeman is well known for her role as Martha Jones in Doctor Who and its spinoff series Torchwood.
The debt collector for the slumlord Mr. Casby, Mr. Pancks at first appears to be a menacing figure. Pancks becomes involved in a mystery at the heart of Little Dorrit.
From a working class London background, Eddie Marsan was a printer before turning to acting. Marsan has been seen in a variety of films ranging from Happy-Go-Lucky, 21 Grams and Vera Drake to Mission Impossible III and The Illusionist. Marsan recently appeared on Masterpiece in God on Trial, and will appear alongside Robert Downey, Jr. in Guy Ritchie's film Sherlock Holmes.
Described by screenwriter Andrew Davies as "the ultimate villain," the murderer Rigaud (aka Blandois/Lagnier) basks in his depravity and in his efforts to bring down the House of Clennam.
Andy Serkis is widely recognized for his role as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Serkis, who grew up in Baghdad and London, began his acting career at Duke's Playhouse in England, where he performed in 14 consecutive plays. Since then, he has had a varied and active career in films such as King Kong and Topsy Turvy. In Little Dorrit, Serkis found there was more than evil in Rigaud's heart. "He is also immensely charming, humorous, theatrical, pretentious, pompous and very fond of himself," Serkis said. Serkis is set to appear in Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin.
Arthur Clennam's old sweetheart, Flora Finching harbors a not-so-secret desire for her former beau.
Convinced that she would never make it into drama school, Ruth Jones never applied. For more than 20 years, Jones has had a successful career as an actress and comedienne. She is best known for co-writing and appearing in the British sitcom Gavin & Stacey. Jones recently appeared on Masterpiece in Tess of the d'Urbervilles. For Jones, there was much more to Flora Finching than her boundless enthusiasm. "She has great passion but is not able to expend it," Jones said. "She's simmering with this life force that has nowhere to go. It's a heartbreaking story."
Henry Gowan romantically pursues Pet Meagles, but is dismayed to find another suitor vying for her affections — Arthur Clennam.
A graduate of Oxford University and of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), Alex Wyndham has been seen on film in Kenneth Branagh's 2006 film As You Like It, and on television in the series Rome and in the British miniseries The Line of Beauty. Wyndham is a black belt in Shokotan Karate.
Mrs. General is tasked with educating Amy and Fanny Dorrit in the ways of high society.
Masterpiece fans will remember Pam Ferris from her role as the sinister Grace Poole in Jane Eyre. Born in Germany and raised in Wales and New Zealand, Pam Ferris's stage, television and film career has spanned roughly 40 years. Her credits include British TV series such as The Darling Buds of May and Rosemary & Thyme, and film projects like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
The mysterious and determined Miss Wade lures Tattycoram away from the Meagles family.
Maxine Peake had her first professional success in 1989 on the British TV sitcom Dinnerladies, right out of London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Since then, she has frequently been seen on British TV, and has also appeared on Masterpiece in The Way We Live Now. For Peake, playing a character as unlikable as Miss Wade was actually great fun. "As a performer, you want to get your teeth into a role and really have fun with it...characters like this [Miss Wade] are an actor's dream," Peake said.