Stars Tom Weston-Jones and Joseph Quinn on the ambitious, bizarre, dark world of Dickensian (VIDEO)

Two of the stars of BBC1's Dickensian, the new 20-part mash-up of Charles Dickens' novels, have paid tribute to the ambitious undertaking that is simultaneously dark, bizarre and a great celebration of the literary icon's tales.

Tom Weston-Jones plays Meriwether Compeyson (who famously jilted Miss Havisham in Great Expectations), while Joseph Quinn is his friend – and her brother – Arthur Havisham.

Tom said Arthur and Meriwether 'interact a lot... The majority of the first few episodes for us is together. We do a lot of colluding, a lot of planning and plotting and mainly getting drunk together, actually, which is quite a lot of fun. Without giving away too much, the relationship sours at a certain point so that's been a lot of fun to negotiate."

Series creator Tony Jordan has gathered together Dickens' minor characters and utilised the back stories of more significant characters to create a whole new world and Tom told What's on TV that he loved just how bizarre some of the stories are.

He said many people had a false sentimentality about Charles Dickens, but he was very dark and wrote about some really unusual people, while Joseph said his character, Arthur, was a 'very cool part to play. He's a baddie, but he has many layers to him and [they've been] really fun to find out'.

Tom continued: "When I first heard about the series I was very curious abut how they'd pull it off, because it's a huge undertaking. There's something like 30... main characters, which is massive, I've never been in anything like that!"

Joseph added: "I think it is very ambitious and I think it's very much a celebration of Dickens' work, putting all of these characters that he's come up with in one place is a very interesting way to kind of celebrate the genius of a very, very clever writer."

Dickensian begins on BBC1 on Boxing Day. Watch the interview with Tom Weston-Jones and Joseph Quinn (which is slightly interrupted by their co-stars!) above. "]

WATCH Caroline Quentin talk about her horrible Dickensian character, Mrs Bumble.

WATCH Sophie Rundle and Tuppence Middleton talk about their characters in Dickensian.

Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.