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Masterpiece Classic: The Old Curiosity Shop

Airs Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: This adaptation of the famous Charles Dickens novel follows the virtuous Little Nell Trent, played by Sophie Vavasseur (left), and her shop-owner grandfather, legendary actor Sir Derek Jacobi (right), as they endure tragic misfortunes that lead to the loss of their beloved curiosity shop.

This classic Dickens novel is brought to life with an all-star cast that includes Derek Jacobi (“I, Claudius”) as Grandfather, Sophie Vavasseur (“Northanger Abbey”) as Nell, Zoe Wanamaker ("Gormenghast") as Mrs. Jarley, and Toby Jones ("Frost/Nixon") as Quilp. The Dickensian cast also includes Gina McKee (“The Forsyte Saga”) as the brains behind Quilp’s shady law firm.

Toby Jones as Quilp in MASTERPIECE CLASSIC "The Old Curiosity Shop."
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Above: Toby Jones as Quilp in MASTERPIECE CLASSIC "The Old Curiosity Shop."

Gina McKee as Sally Brass in MASTERPIECE CLASSIC "The Old Curiosity Shop."
Enlarge this image

Above: Gina McKee as Sally Brass in MASTERPIECE CLASSIC "The Old Curiosity Shop."

A Scholar's Perspective

Dickens scholar Tatiana Holway on Dickens's real-life inspiration for Nell and more. Watch the interview

Grandfather adores young and innocent Nell and is determined to provide her with a secure future — but at what cost?

As Grandfather routinely dispatches her from the Old Curiosity Shop to secure funds, he meanwhile is gambling away the money under the cover of night. Desperation forces Grandfather into a reckless deal with the menacing moneylender Quilp.

When their money and luck run out, Nell summons her courage and encourages Grandfather that they should both flee too. Pursued by a variety of shadowy characters including a quiet man with mysterious intentions, Nell and Grandfather are forced to beg in order to survive.

Will they be rescued before Grandfather's gambling habit ruins them or Quilp catches up? "The Old Curiosity Shop" is one of Charles Dickens's most heartrending tales.

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