Disney Takes on Charles Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist’ in “Irreverent” New Show

disney artful dodger
Credit: Disney

Had renowned author Charles Dickens been alive, he would have lived to see some of his characters come alive in an all-new way with Disney’s upcoming show.

The Walt Disney Company has a long history of finding inspiration for their movies and television shows in popular literature and stories from around the world. Aladdin was based on a story from the Middle-Eastern One Thousand and One Arabian NightsFrozen was based on Danish author Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, and these are just a few examples of a larger trend.

Genie in Aladdin

The Genie (Robin Williams) in Aladdin / Credit: Disney

Disney Shares First Look of Show Inspired by ‘Oliver Twist’

Now, Disney shared the first photos from its upcoming Australian show, The Artful Dodger—inspired by the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist—starring Thomas Brodie-Sangster, David Thewlis, and Maia Mitchell.

The show picks up after the events of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist and focuses on the iconic character, the Artful Dodger, or Jack Dawkins. In the show, Dawkins is all grown-up and is reformed, using his nimble fingers for surgery instead of pickpocketing. His past comes back to haunt him with the arrival of Fagin (David Thewlis), who attempts to lure him back to the world of crime, while matters of the heart scare him in the form of the governor’s daughter (Maia Mitchell), who is determined to be the first female surgeon.

A still from Disney's upcoming show 'The Artful Dodger'

A still from Disney’s upcoming show ‘The Artful Dodger’ / Credit: Disney

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Is the Artful Dodger a villain?

While not strictly speaking a “villain” in the true definition of a Disney villain, the Dodger is a pickpocket, named for his skill and cunning in that occupation, and is the leader of a gang of child criminals on the streets of London. The elderly Fagin trains the gang.

David Thewlis as Fagin in Disney's 'The Artful Dodger'

David Thewlis as Fagin in Disney’s ‘The Artful Dodger’ / Credit: Disney

What happened to the Artful Dodger?

In the novels, it’s implied that the Artful Dodger is caught with a silver snuff box (the irony of a masterful pickpocket being caught for something so simple is certainly acknowledged) and the Dodger being sent off to the penal colony in Australia is also alluded to.

It stands to reason then that Disney’s upcoming television show would pick up in Australia with the Dodger as a reformed adult.

Disney Plus

Disney+ includes Disney movies, Pixar movies, Marvel movies, and Star Wars content (as well as some National Geographic content) / Credit: Disney

Disney’s The Artful Dodger will premiere on November 29, as reported by Deadline.

The series was created by James McNamara, David Maher, and David Taylor; it is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television’s Curio Pictures (Jo Porter is an executive producer) and produced by Beach Road Pictures (David Maher and David Taylor are executive producers).

The show is written by James McNamara, Andrew Knight, Vivienne Walshe and Dan Knight, with Miranda Tapsell serving as a story consultant.

About Priyanka Kumar

Priyanka is a writer, artist, avid reader, and travel enthusiast based in Chicago. In her free time, she is probably walking by the lake, catching up on the latest releases on TV, or spending inordinate amounts of time rewatching Moana, Encanto, and her Disney Channel life-long favorites Zack and Cody wreak havoc on the Tipton.

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