Meet the characters and cast of Oliver Twist
Click on any of the major characters in Oliver Twist to learn more about how they fit in the story, and also about the careers of the actors who portray them.
The son of an unmarried woman who dies shortly after birth, orphan Oliver courageously navigates his way through a variety of harrowing situations.
Undaunted by the literary and cinematic heritage of Oliver Twist, William Miller, age 11, jumped at the chance to learn Cockney, work with top-notch actors and do his own stunts as the lead character. And, he beat out nearly 700 other young hopefuls to do it. The son of actress Janine Wood and director Sam Miller, Miller got his start in acting at age nine in Krakatoa: Volcano of Destruction. Despite his successful launch into mainstream drama, Miller is uncertain about a continued acting career. "If I had the choice out of acting and football, it would have to be football," Miller says.
A manipulative thief himself, Fagin oversees a gang of young pickpockets.
A self described "big Dickens fan" and "a bit of a purist," Timothy Spall was delighted to be cast as Fagin, and wanted to bring a new take to the character. "He's a sensualist; a warm character who happens to be devious, but his deviousness and his warmth are in equal measure." Most recently seen on Masterpiece in A Room With a View alongside real-life son Rafe, Spall also appeared on the series in Shooting the Past and Our Mutual Friend. A prolific actor, Spall is known for his roles in Mike Leigh films, and is also widely recognized as Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter films. Other film credits include Sweeney Todd, Appaloosa and Enchanted. In 1999, Spall was named an Officer of the British Empire (OBE).
The boyfriend of Nancy, Bill Sikes is a thief and a violent man.
Known to Masterpiece audiences for his roles in The Virgin Queen and Wuthering Heights, Tom Hardy made his professional debut in the World War II drama Band of Brothers while still studying at London's Drama Centre. He subsequently made his film debut in another war-related drama, Black Hawk Down. Some of Hardy's other film appearances include Marie Antoinette, Layer Cake, Sweeney Todd and RocknRolla. In portraying the sinister Bill Sikes, Hardy wanted to bring something unexpected to the role — vulnerability. "When you start to look at his relationship with his dog and Nancy and Oliver — and what they represent — that's really interesting to explore: where the vulnerability is going to be with a character like Bill," Hardy says.
The girlfriend of Bill Sikes and one of Fagin's thieves, Nancy yearns for a better life.
Actress Sophie Okonedo fell in love with the character of Nancy "because she has ambivalent feelings towards lots of things: Bill and how she feels about herself, what she's become, what living in poverty at that time has made her — she's a product of that," Okonedo says. "She's full of goodness despite herself." Born in London to a Jewish mother of Eastern European decent and a Nigerian father, Okonedo was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Okonedo has appeared in films such as Dirty Pretty Things, The Secret Life of Bees and Hotel Rwanda for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Actress in a Supporting Role.
The Artful Dodger
One of Fagin's young pickpockets, Dodger lures Oliver into a life of thievery.
For 13-year-old Adam Arnold, learning big chunks of dialogue with some complicated lines made Oliver Twist a challenge. Asked if he'd do it again, Arnold answers eagerly, "Yeah, it's been wicked!" Previously seen in the short film Hibernation and in the play My Child, Oliver Twist is Arnold's biggest role to date.
A generous benefactor, Mr. Brownlow has links to Oliver's past.
Distinguished stage, film and television actor Edward Fox is part of a talented family — his brothers are actor James Fox and film producer Robert Fox. Notable Fox family appearances on Masterpiece have been plentiful: Edward Fox himself (Daniel Deronda), partner Joanna David (Bleak House, The Forsyte Saga, The Way We Live Now), daughter Emilia (The Virgin Queen, Henry VIII, David Copperfield) and nephew Laurence (Inspector Lewis, A Room With a View). Fox won British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards for his film roles in Gandhi, A Bridge Too Far and The Go-Between and his television work in Edward and Mrs. Simpson. Fox is also known for his role in 1973's The Day of the Jackal. Fox was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to theater and film.
Along with Mr. Brownlow, Rose is moved to help Oliver.
Scottish born Morven Christie has been seen on British television in the series Monday Monday and Lost in Austen. Christie's theater credits include the Royal Shakespeare Company productions of Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing.
The housekeeper for Mr. Brownlow, Mrs. Bedwin cares for Oliver after Brownlow takes him in.
Daughter of actress Adrienne Allen and actor Raymond Massey, award-winning actress Anna Massey's education ended when she was 15. At that point, she entered the theater. She made her film debut in 1958 in Gideon's Day, directed by her godfather John Ford. Other notable film roles have included Hitchcock's Frenzy, Michael Powell's Peeping Tom and Rebecca. Massey has appeared on Masterpiece in Tess of the d'Urbervilles and He Knew He Was Right among others. Massey won both a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award and a Royal Television Society Best Actress Award for her performance in Hotel du Lac. In 2004, Massey was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to drama.
Edward (Mr. Monks)
Edward is the grandson of Mr. Brownlow. As Mr. Monks, he has a mysterious interest in young Oliver.
Julian Rhind-Tutt is known for his role in the British television comedy series Green Wing. Soon after graduating from the Central School of Speech and Drama, Julian Rhind-Tutt got a part in the stage version of The Madness of King George III and later the film adaptation. Rhind-Tutt has made a number of television appearances, including on Masterpiece in The Shadow in the North, Reckless, and Heat of the Sun among others.
Mr. Bumble is the overseer of the orphanage and workhouse where Oliver lives.
Scottish actor Gregor Fisher may be recognized by Masterpiece audiences for his roles in The Railway Children and Kidnapped. Fisher is also known for his television work in the British television comedy series Rab C. Nesbitt and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. On film, Fisher has appeared in Love Actually and The Merchant of Venice among others.
Mrs. Corney develops a surprising relationship with Mr. Bumble at the workhouse.
Daughter of British television screenwriter Geoffrey Lancashire, Sarah Lancashire graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Lancashire is frequently recognized for her one of her earliest roles — in the British soap opera Coronation Street. Other television credits include Where the Heart Is, Rose and Maloney, and on Masterpiece in Wuthering Heights. On stage, Lancashire has been seen in Blood Brothers, The Little Shop of Horrors and Educating Rita. In 2004, Lancashire received a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) nomination in the Best Director Fiction category for her directorial debut in an episode of The Afternoon Play.
An undertaker, Mr. Sowerberry pays to take Oliver from the orphanage.
The Scottish born John Sessions is known as a writer, comedian and actor. He first became recognized on British television in Whose Line Is It Anyway and has since had an extensive TV and film career, including in the BBC's Gormenghast. Some of Sessions' film credits include Gangs of New York, Henry V and The Merchant of Venice. Sessions has appeared on Masterpiece in The Lost Prince, Miss Marple and The Inspector Lynley Mysteries.
The wife of Mr. Sowerberry, Mrs. Sowerberry dislikes Oliver and treats him poorly.
Scottish actress Michelle Gomez is a graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Her professional work has varied from serious theater (The Taming of the Shrew at the Royal Shakespeare Company) to comedic television (the British series Green Wing and The Book Group). Gomez is married to actor Jack Davenport.