Our fearless Admin was kind enough to share an excellent article on “The Pickwick Papers” (both novel and 1985 television series) by Stuart Mitchner on the “Town Topics” site, titled “Before the Beatles There Was Sam Weller: Concluding The Year of Dickens and England“, which includes some well-deserved praise for Patrick Malahide as our favourite con man, Alfred Jingle:
The Joys of Jingle
My reaction to the BBC Pickwick followed a pattern similar to what happened in England when the first serial installments were released in booklet form in the spring of 1836. The first episode almost lost me (it did lose my wife), with its clubby 18th-century atmosphere. Who among this group of antic, quaintly convivial twits called Pickwickians could possibly be worth sticking around for? The reason I kept watching was a fast-talking charlatan whose rushed, manic, non-stop speechifying creates an effective cover for his scheming. Bearing the fine Dickensian name, Alfred Jingle (and played to a T by Patrick Malahide), he stole the show the first time I read The Pickwick Papers.
Jingle’s the reason many of us kept watching. 😉 Stuart Mitchner really captures Jingle’s appeal and the nature of his role, describing his far-fetched stories as “[Dickens’] fancy loose in its purest state, unfettered, exposed in the quick of creation”.
The rest of the article contains interesting examinations of Sam Weller as a Victorian pop culture phenomenon, and the way Dickens’ works presaged other forms of British comedy. Well worth a read.