The Old Curiousity Shop

The Old Curiousity Shop
Wednesday 26 December 2007 9:00pm – 11:00pm on ITV1.

Nell Trent is a kind and virtuous young girl who lives with her grandfather in The Old Curiosity Shop. It is a magical place; an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures. Grandfather loves her dearly but, unbeknown to Nell, is obsessed with their precarious financial position and securing Nell a good inheritance by winning at cards. He keeps these nocturnal activities a secret, but borrows heavily from Daniel Quilp, an evil, profiteering loan shark. Quilp delights in exerting his power over the old man and his pretty granddaughter. That is when he is not bullying his long suffering wife Betsy and her over flustered mother Mrs Jiniwin.

Convinced that grandfather has stored up a fortune for Nell, her wastrel brother Freddie Trent persuades the good natured but easily led Dick Swiveller to win his sister’s heart so that Swiveller can marry her and the two can share Nell’s supposed inheritance. But grandfather has gambled away what little money they possess, and Quilp seizes the opportunity to force him to sign over possession of the shop. As Quilp and his obsequious lawyer Samson Brass move in, Nell and grandfather seize the opportunity to escape and run away to the country. Believing that Dick’s friendship with Freddie might lead him to Nell and Grandfather, Quilp places an unwitting Dick – always eager to make a fast buck – in employment with Brass and Brass solicitors, which Samson runs with his austere sister Sally Brass.

Quilp, furious at being usurped, begins to hunt for Nell and grandfather but the fugitives are not easily discovered. During their travels they fall in with a number of characters – some villainous and some kind. From Mr Codlin and Mr Short – the puppeteers with their eye on a handsome reward – to the eccentric gypsy and waxworks owner Mrs Jarley and her unscrupulous accountant Mr Liggers, Nell clings to whatever friendship she can find in her desperation to cure grandfather of his gambling addiction. But his need to win at cards is too strong, and the pair are eventually forced into begging for survival.

Meanwhile, Kit Nubbles – grandfather’s servant boy and Nell’s adoring friend – is contacted by a mysterious gentleman named Jacob, who is also looking for news of the missing duo. He moves into a room above Brass & Brass and begins to gather information. His search takes him to Mrs Jarley and Mr Liggers but there he encounters Quilp, who will stop at nothing to intercept Nell and grandfather. Quilp forms a grudge against Kit and uses the Brasses as pawns in a plot to have him framed for theft. The scheme is discovered by the Brass’s unassuming tiny servant girl The Marchioness who, having befriended the capricious Dick, decides to tell him what she knows about the cruel sibling lawyers.

When things take a turn for the worse and desperation sets in, a kindly Reverend takes pity on Nell and grandfather and leads the beggars to the safety of his children’s orphanage. But such hardship has come at a considerable cost to Nell’s health.

Dick, keen to stick the knife into his Machiavellian employers, sets about proving Kit’s innocence. The Brasses are quick to frame their controlling client and Quilp is hunted down. He flees to the cover of a dark East London wharf and Betsy watches with horror as her husband meets his fate in the icy water.

Jacob and Kit journey to find Nell and grandfather, but Nell’s condition has become serious. Jacob’s true identity is finally revealed but it appears he may be too late for the reunion he had longed for

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