In this BBC Radio adaptation of Peter Ackroyd's spectacular one-man show, Simon Callow portrays both Charles Dickens and many of his best-loved characters, from Mr Micawber and Bill Sikes to Oliver Twist and Nancy. Readings from his novels interweave with the author's own words and an incisive, compassionate narrative. Dickens' idyllic childhood in Chatham was swapped for his family's penurious existence in London. With his father imprisoned for debt, young Charles was deprived of an education and forced to work in a blacking factory. Such experiences moulded him into the fiercely industrious, ambitious writer who would later claim that his characters talked to and touched him. Full of fascinating insight, the play illustrates how Dickens never quite managed to escape the dark shadows cast by his earlier life. Featuring material not included in the radio broadcast, this production is prefaced with an introduction by Callow himself.