The Artful Dodger and Fagin from Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist are two of our best-loved fictional villains and an eight-part series on Hulu and Disney Plus is bringing them back to life, with a twist of its own.
The Queen’s Gambit and Love Actually star Thomas Brodie-Sangster plays The Artful Dodger, aka Jack Dawkins, as an adult. He’s now a surgeon but he can’t quite get rid of his taste for crime, so he lurches from life-saving surgery to high-stakes heists. Landscapers star David Thewlis plays Fagin in the series, which is set in 1850s Australia and features Aussie comedian, actor and writer Tim Minchin. This series has been described as ‘a rock n' roll tale with an Aussie connection’.
Here's everything you need to know about The Artful Dodger series on Hulu and Disney Plus…
The Artful Dodger release date
The Artful Dodger is an eight-part series becomes available on Disney Plus in the UK and Ireland from Wednesday January 17, 2024. The drama was previously available to stream on Hulu in the US on Wednesday November 29 2023. The
Is there a trailer for The Artful Dodger?
Yes a teaser trailer and official trailer for The Artful Dodger released now by Disney Plus and Hulu, which shows him cavorting around in High Society as Dr Dawkins, but desperate to cover up his childhood criminal past. Take a look at both below...
The Artful Dodger plot
Set in Australia in 1850s, we catch up with The Artful Dodger, aka Jack Dawkins (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), in the lively (fictional) colony of Port Victory. He was transported there as a young pickpocket but is now a successful surgeon who is known in high society as Dr Dawkins.
He receives a shocking blast from the past, however, when he is reunited with his crafty former mentor Fagin (David Thewlis), who has evaded the gallows and been sent Down Under as a convict. But as Dodger’s medical career comes under threat due to a gambling debt, Fagin tries to help him out and they are both quickly drawn back into their bad old ways…
From then on Dodger can’t quite shake off his criminal roots and still has a predilection for crime. That means he juggles his day job with high-octane robberies. A greater threat – to Dodger’s heart – is Lady Belle (Maia Mitchell), the Governor’s daughter, determined to become the colony’s first female surgeon. Her dreams of becoming a surgeon are hampered due to her gender and she soon notices Dodger’s talent for medicine and criminality.
The Artful Dodger cast — Thomas Brodie-Sangster interview on playing The Artful Dodger, aka Jack Dawkins
Now playing a grown-up version of the notorious pickpocket Jack Dawkins, aka The Artful Dodger, here Thomas Brodie-Sangster reveals more about this series...
How would you describe the show The Artful Dodger?
Thomas Brodie-Sangster says: "It has everything a British period drama does, but it is set amid the blazing hot skies of Australia, which is a cool dynamic to play with. There’s a Romeo and Juliet romantic story as well, but it’s also a fun heist drama!"
Tell us about Dodger’s life as a surgeon…
Thomas says: "This is a period of medicine on the cusp of big changes like anaesthetics. But until that point, it was closer to butchery. Dodger has learnt that quick fingers have a use other than pickpocketing, and that there’s merit in doing something worthwhile for other people. He has made a name for himself, he's good at what he does, and is climbing the ladder, because no one knows of his background. He’s trying to be a good boy, until Fagin turns up…"
What is his reaction after Fagin resurfaces?
Thomas says: "The only love he's ever experienced is from Fagin, which is questionable. But Fagin is also a terrifying ghost, who harks back to a time Dodger is trying to swim away from. Fagin brings Dodger back down to reality because he knows everything about him. He has control over him and could get a noose around his neck or get him thrown back in jail, so Dodger has to take Fagin in."
Fagin’s criminal tendencies soon emerge as he tries to help Dodger pay off a gambling debt that could otherwise end his medical career. How does Dodger feel about that?
Thomas says: "It pulls Dodger back into his dark ways. But Dodger also loves the thrill of crime, it’s that life and death thing that you get in surgery too. There's something electric and exciting about that. It’s in his blood, and he struggles to say no to Fagin."
Have you enjoyed working with David Thewlis?
Thomas says: "David's lovely. I've always admired his work, he's wonderfully natural. We clicked straight away and bounced off one another nicely. Our characters butt heads, but are also from the same world, so playing all of that with David is great."
Dodger also forges a tantalising bond with spirited aspiring doctor Lady Belle Fox (Maia Mitchell), the daughter of the local governor. What is their relationship like?
Thomas says: "They are both stubborn and proud, so they can be spiky but they have respect for one another. Dodger is dyslexic – I am too and I struggle with scripts and he struggles with doctors’ notes – so he’s just instinctive and goes with what he feels is right. Belle does the opposite. She's gifted, a studier, and has everything at her disposal, but as a woman, she's not allowed to be a surgeon. They help and hinder each other.
Is love on the cards for them?
Thomas says: "It becomes gut-wrenchingly, beautifully romantic. Belle and Dodger are from different backgrounds, so you’re dealing with class. If you come from a place like Dodger does, where you don't have the right blood, you can't really climb up. But love is his saving grace. He's torn between what he knows he is good at [surgery] and this dark world where he likes to gamble and feel that risk. Belle pulls him back."
Finally, what has it been like filming on the hospital set?
Thomas says: "That’s one of the best sets I have been on, it’s world-class. The level of detail means it feels like it's lived in. When we walk around and we're in costume, and it's lit, it looks stunning. But it is very hot!"
* Thomas Brodie-Sangster first won our hearts as Sam in the Christmas classic Love Actually. He’s since starred in The Maze Runner movies as well as the hugely popular Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit. He played Malcolm McLaren in Pistol, the series about The Sex Pistols, and Rafe Sadler in the BBC period drama Wolf Hall.
David Thewlis interview on playing Fagin
David Thewlis is playing Fagin, a London criminal who turns homeless boys into pickpockets and arrives in Australia where he catches up with Dodger and encourages him to engage in criminality once more. Here, David reveals much more his role in The Artful Dodger...
How do you see this world?
David Thewlis says: "It’s far from London and a brutal place where the existence is dire, the law is draconian and survival is exhausting. And into this, we drop these Dickensian characters and surround them with a new, wonderfully exotic collection of people that Dodger and Fagin come across."
Tell us about your version of Fagin…
David says: "In Oliver Twist, he's not alive by the end [he is hanged] – but this is a reinvention. Fagin has been transported to Australia and is carrying on his perfidy and scraping by through his usual tactics. He has plans, so he needs Dodger and there's a strange father-son relationship."
What appealed to you about playing Fagin?
David says: "It’s an iconic role. I grew up watching the film musical [1968’s Oliver!] and I used to be friends with Lionel Bart, who wrote that, so it was dear to me, and where I live in London is the heart of Dickens country, so I felt fate was involved. He’s such a memorable, fascinating character too. I’ve played lots of psychopaths in grim, realistic stuff, but I adored playing the comedy in this."
Have you enjoyed working in Australia too?
David says: "It has been a dream. I shot there years ago for a film I did not enjoy – [1996’s] The Island of Dr Moreau – I had a terrible time! I came back to correct that. Now I'm in love with Australia and Australian people!"
* David Thewlis best known for his role as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter movies. He also stars in Enola Holmes 2, The Sandman, Landscapers and Justice League.
Who else is starring in The Artful Dodger?
Australian singer/song writer Maia Mitchell, who also starred in the Teen Beach movies, is playing Lady Belle Fox, who also wants to be a surgeon.
Upright’s Tim Minchin, Damon Herriman (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Miranda Tapsell (Top End Wedding), Susie Porter, Kym Gyngell, Damien Garvey, Jessica De Gouw, Andrea Demetriades, Luke Carroll and Huw Higginson are also starring.
Also in the cast are rising talents Nicholas Burton, Lucy-Rose Leonard, Vivienne Awosoga and Albert Latailakepa.
The Arful Dodger episode guide
Here's what to expect from the eight episodes of The Artful Dodger...
EPISODE 1 – The Yankee Dodge
With a huge gambling debt, coinciding with the return of Fagin, Dodger agrees to a final sting.
EPISODE 2 – Blessings of St. Coccyx
Trying to steal 500 sovereigns, Dodger and Fagin witness Darius in a compromising position.
EPISODE 3 – Dead Men's Secrets
With Gaines planning their demise, the pressure is on Dodger and Fagin to find the missing money.
EPISODE 4 – The Stitch Up
Fagin serves up Gaines’ wife and Darius. Sneed attacks Dodger at the Governor’s dinner.
EPISODE 5 - The Duel
Fagin plots to swap a valuable barrel with a fake. Sneed and Dodger's rivalry culminates in a duel.
EPISODE 6 - Bully in the Alley
Gaines plans to rid the colony of crime. Red is captured and must undergo emergency surgery.
EPISODE 7 - Wet Lettuce
Fagin and Dodger attempt a risky heist in pursuit of gold. Belle reveals her secret to Jack.
EPISODE 8 - Untapped Potential
Jack attempts to save Belle but is betrayed and arrested by Gaines.
Who else has played The Artful Dodger on screen?
Probably the most famous portrayal of The Artful Dodger was by the late Jack Wild in the hit 1968 movie Oliver! Chirpy cockney Jack shone while singing songs such as Consider Yourself, Be Back Soon and I'd Do Anything! The role won 16-year-old Jack an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He later arrived in Hollywood to star in the US kids' series HR Pufnstuf.
In the classic 1948 David Lean movie adaptation Oliver Twist, The Artful Dodger was played by Anthony Newley, and in the 2007 BBC1 drama (with Tom Hardy as Bill Sikes) Dodger was played by Adam Arnold.
Behind the scenes and more on The Artful Dodger
The Artful Dodger is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television’s Curio Pictures and produced by Beach Road Pictures. The series is created by James McNamara, David Maher & David Taylor. Jo Porter represents Curio Pictures as Executive Producer and David Maher & David Taylor represent Beach Road Pictures as Executive Producers. James McNamara (Co-Creator, Co-Executive Producer and Writer), Andrew Knight (Co-Executive Producer and Writer), Jeffrey Walker (Co-Executive Producer and Director) and Ross Allsop (Producer) complete the producing team.
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.