‘Great Expectations’ recap: What happened in Episode 1?

The new adaptation of Great Expectations launched tonight!

Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight has adapted Charles Dickens’ classic novel in this six-part series for the BBC and FX.

Olivia Colman (The Crown) stars as the iconic Miss Havisham, alongside Dunkirk actor Fionn Whitehead as Pip.

They’re joined by Ashley Thomas (The Ipcress File), Johnny Harris (Medici), Shalom Brune-Franklin (The Tourist), Hayley Squires (Call the Midwife), and Matt Berry (What We Do in the Shadows).

Watch a clip from Episode 1 here:

Here’s a plot recap for the first episode, which premiered at 9pm on Sunday 26th March 2023 on BBC One in the UK and on Hulu in the US:

The cleverest boy in school, orphan Pip has yearned for a greater lot in life for as long as he can remember. With his parents and younger siblings long dead, he lives with kindly blacksmith Joe, who is married to Pip’s eldest sister, Sara, a tough and unforgiving woman.

Together they live in Gravesend, surrounded by the dark and foggy marshes whose tributaries lead to the great River Thames.

Whenever Pip is not at the forge with Joe, he eagerly watches the Thames traffic go by – great ships of the British Empire heading out past his bedroom window to a life he can only dream of.

Sneaking out to visit his parents’ grave on Christmas Eve, Pip is accosted by an escaped convict, Magwitch. Bound for Australia, Magwitch has escaped the prison ship Redemption after his arch enemy, Compeyson, started a fire on board.

With both men still trapped in leg irons on the freezing marshes, neither have much hope of getting far. Now only one thing occupies Magwitch’s mind – revenge, in the form of murdering Compeyson – and he forces Pip to come to his aid.

During Christmas lunch at Joe’s, one of the guests, Mr Pumblechook, has news concerning Pip. He has learned that the eccentric and vastly wealthy Miss Havisham is looking for a companion for her adopted daughter, Estella.

As Estella is the same age as Pip, it has been suggested that Pip, as the cleverest boy in the school, could be a suitable candidate.

Joe says he won’t let Miss Havisham take Pip away – he will need him in the forge soon enough.

But Joe doesn’t see that Pip is desperate for the opportunity to become something more resembling a gentleman than a blacksmith.

Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations is available on Amazon.