Our Mutual Friend (1998)

Eugene Wrayburn (Paul McGann) and Mortimer Lightwood (Dominic Mafham) wearing blankets amongst a collection of old wooden boats on teh dockyard

Eugene Wrayburn (Paul McGann) and Mortimer Lightwood (Dominic Mafham) © BBC

Directed by: Julian Farino

Produced By: Caroline Wearing

Written By: Charles Dickens (Novel) & Sandy Welch (Adaptation)

Starring: Keeley Hawes, Paul McGann, Anna Friel, David Morrissey & Steven Mackintosh

Production Company: BBC

Kent Locations Used: The Historic Dockyard Chatham, River Medway

Our Mutual Friend was Charles Dickens’ last complete novel. It was written in 1864-1865 when he was at the height of his fame having recently published A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. The main theme of the novel is money and the effect that it can have on personal values and relationships.  At it’s very core is the love triangle between repressed schoolteacher Bradley Headstone (David Morrissey Thorne: Sleepyhead), his rival Eugene Wrayburn (Paul McGann New Tricks)and their shared love interest Lizzie Hexam (Keeley Hawes Upstairs Downstairs).

When  John Harmon, a young man whose inheritance is dependent on his marrying a woman he has never met, is found dead in the Thames, his fortune is passed onto the Boffin family who take both Harmon’s would-be bride Bella Wilfer (Anna Friel Pushing Daisies) and mysterious secretary Rokesmith (Steven Mackintosh Camelot) into their home. Meanwhile, Lizzie Hexam’s father is accused of Harmon’s murder and she is relentlessly pursued by her two suitors.

Lizzie Hexam (Keeley Hawes) in a hooded cape in a boat on the medway. A close up of her face with the water behind her and the boat lanten.

Lizzie Hexam (Keeley Hawes) © BBC

Filmed at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, the location was used for the bleak side streets surrounding the workhouse. Charles Dickens’ father worked as a Naval Pay Officer at the Dockyard and it was here that Dickens developed a love of the sea, accompanying his father as a young boy. Later, these childhood adventures were a source of inspiration for novels such as Great Expectations and Our Mutual Friend.

The Kingswear Castle Paddlesteamer that is based at The Historic Dockyard Chatham was also used for filming the scene where Bella Wilfer and the Boffin family go for a day out.

The Historic Dockyard Chatham dates back to the 17th century and contains over 100 buildings from the Georgian and Victorian periods. The Historic Dockyard Chatham is a popular film location that has previously featured on screen in Suffragette (2015), Downton Abbey (2013) and Les Miserables (2013).

Dickens has a rich history with Kent and the Kent Film Office celebrates Dickens history with the county including TV and film adaptions in The Dickens Trail which launched in 2012.

Our Mutual Friend aired on the BBC in March 1998 and is now available on DVD.

Links

For more information on filming in Kent please contact: filmoffice@kent.gov.uk

For more information about the Kent Film Office Dickens Trail: http://kentfilmoffice.co.uk/moviemap/dickens-movie-trail/

For more information about the programme:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0144727/

For more information about The Historic Dockyard Chatham: http://www.thedockyard.co.uk/

 

MMFor more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map: http://kentfilmoffice.co.uk/kent-movie-map/moviemap-live-2/