Pickwick (1969 film)

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Pickwick is a British TV musical made by the BBC in 1969 and based on the stage musical Pickwick, which in turn was based on The Pickwick Papers written by Charles Dickens. It starred Harry Secombe as Samuel Pickwick and Roy Castle as Sam Weller.[1][2]

The film was based on the stage musical Pickwick which had been a great commercial success. It was adapted for the screen by James Gilbert and Jimmy Grafton.[3] The musical had been produced by Bernard Delfont and had premiered in the West End in 1963, again with Harry Secombe in the lead role and choreography by Gillian Lynne.

Running at 90 minutes and filmed in colour, the TV musical again had lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and a score by Cyril Ornadel. The book was by Wolf Mankowitz and it was directed by Terry Hughes.[4] The film was first transmitted on 11 June 1969 and again on 26 December 1969.[3][5] One of the better known songs from the score is "If I Ruled the World".

The cast of the film differed somewhat from that of the stage musical.


Set in England in 1828, the story centres on wealthy Samuel Pickwick and his valet Sam Weller, who are in a debtors' prison where they recall the misadventures that led to their imprisonment.

On the previous Christmas Eve, Pickwick introduced his friend Wardle, Wardle's daughters, Emily and Isabella, and their Aunt Rachael to Nathaniel Winkle, Augustus Snodgrass, and Tracy Tupman, three members of the Pickwick Club. They were soon joined by Alfred Jingle, who tricked Tupman into paying for his ticket to a ball that evening. Upon learning Rachael is an heiress, Jingle set out to win her hand and eventually succeeded.

Pickwick engages Sam Weller as his valet and, through a series of misunderstandings, he inadvertently leads his landlady, Mrs. Bardell, to believe he has proposed marriage to her. Pickwick is charged with breach of promise and hauled into court, where he is found guilty as charged and sentenced to prison when he stubbornly refuses to pay her compensation.

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