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Dickens on Screen by Gemma Starkey
Introduction The Magic Lantern The Silent Era Postwar Boom Solving the Mystery Acting Dickens
Solving the Mystery
"The pitch for The Mystery of Edwin Drood was the simplest one I ever made, and happily one of the more successful. It just went like this: The Mystery of Edwin Drood - part one by Charles Dickens, part two by me. And that was it. Made everybody laugh, and was the easiest commission I ever had up until that point."
  - Gwyneth Hughes, screenwriter

How difficult is it to complete an unfinished novel by one of English literature's greatest writers? Where do you begin and where do you end? And how can you turn it into a successful television screenplay?

The Mystery of Edwin Drood focuses on the character of John Jasper, an intriguing combination of choirmaster and opium addict, and his obsessive love for the young Rosa Bud, one of his pupils. Rosa, meanwhile, is engaged to Jasper's nephew, Edwin Drood, and when Drood disappears in mysterious circumstances suspicion inevitably falls on the story's anti-hero, Jasper. And there the trail goes cold...

Scheduled for publication in 12 instalments, The Mystery of Edwin Drood was only half completed at the time of Charles Dickens' death in 1870. With Dickens' leaving very little in the way of notes or plans as to how he intended the story to unfold, his whodunit has continued to baffle and tantalise generations of readers and writers ever since.

In this short film, screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes tells us about the experience of finding her own solution to Dickens' final mystery for the BBC's 2012 adaptation.

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We are grateful to the BBC for their permission to feature extracts from The Mystery of Edwin Drood in this film.