The creative team behind the Royal Shakespeare Company's renowned 1980 stage adaptation of The Life & Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, later filmed for Channel 4, take part in a panel discussion at BFI Southbank.
Co-director Trevor Nunn explains that the epic eight-hour production was born out of financial crisis at the RSC. Faced with over 40 actors under contract, and budget for only one London production, Nunn explored the possibility of adapting an entire Dickens novel involving the entire company. Playwright David Edgar confesses to being very unprepared when embarking on the job of adapting the novel, and explains how the idea of the play's collective narrator took form. Co-director John Caird recalls the intensive seven-week period of improvisation undertaken by the cast. Although the play is today remembered as a triumph, Nunn stresses that early critical reactions were almost uniformly negative. However when Bernard Levin published a glowing review in The Times, audiences began to flock.