In this star-studded adaptation of a literary classic, acclaimed writer Andrew Davies turns his talents to one of Charles Dickens' most brilliant novels — arguably the greatest-ever depiction of Victorian London. Fresh and imaginative, yet faithful to the original, this thrilling fast-paced adaptation is shot with a contemporary edge. At its heart is the story of the icily beautiful Lady Dedlock, who nurses a dark secret, and the merciless lawyer Tulkinghorn, who seeks to uncover it. The generous John Jarndyce, struggling with his own past, and his two young wards Richard and Ada, are all caught up, like Lady Dedlock, in the infamous case of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce, which will make one of them rich beyond imagination if it can ever be brought to a conclusion. As Tulkinghorn digs deeper into Lady Dedlock's past, he unearths a secret that will change their lives forever, and which is almost as astounding as the final outcome of the Jarndyce case.
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Young orphan Esther Summerson is brought to the High Court of Chancery, where she is thrown together with two wards of the court, Richard Carstone and Ada Clare. Both are caught up in the infamous suit of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which brings nothing but ruin and despair to all it touches. Esther, Richard and Ada are sent to live at Bleak House, where they receive a friendly welcome from their rich guardian John Jarndyce.
Despite his grim discovery, Tulkinghorn remains undeterred from his ruthless inquiry into Lady Dedlock's past. A young crossing sweeper, Jo, may hold a key to the mystery. Krook discovers evidence in Nemo's room which could provide a crucial clue. Richard and Ada plan their engagement, but receive an unexpected setback. And as Richard begins a career in medicine, Esther meets an attractive young doctor called Allan Woodcourt.
As Tulkinghorn edges closer to the truth, Lady Dedlock puts her reputation at risk when she pays an undercover visit to Nemo's former haunts. John Jarndyce finds himself increasingly attracted to Esther, but Richard makes an announcement which causes him dismay. And Woodcourt has news that comes as a terrible blow to Esther.
A chance encounter in the country raises intriguing questions for Esther and Lady Dedlock. Legal clerk Guppy, still besotted with Esther, discovers surprising new information about her past and decides to dig deeper still. And Lady Dedlock's secret is far from safe, as Tulkinghorn stumbles across a lead which could destroy her reputation forever.
Richard's inability to settle causes a rift with John Jarndyce, much to Ada's dismay. Tulkinghorn finally unearths the possible identity of the mysterious Nemo. Nemo's old friend Sergeant George has the evidence he needs to prove it and Tulkinghorn will stop at nothing to force George to hand it over. But George has even more problems when Gridley turns up on his doorstep, on the run from the law and infected with the fever.
George's future is put at risk as Tulkinghorn uses the evil moneylender Smallweed to pile on the pressure. Guppy makes a discovery about Esther which shocks Lady Dedlock to the core. Esther and Jarndyce take in Jo the crossing sweeper, who is seriously ill and on the run from Tulkinghorn's men. But their kindness produces an unexpected result.
George has to make an impossible decision when Tulkinghorn and Smallweed turn up the heat on his debts. Guppy's quest for information takes him back to Krook's shop, with explosive results. Jarndyce is beside himself when tragedy strikes Bleak House.
Tulkinghorn is now close to piecing together Lady Dedlock's secret. Esther struggles to come to terms with the terrible blow she has been dealt. Jarndyce agonises over whether to keep his own feelings for Esther concealed. Lady Dedlock tells Esther something that will change her life for ever.
Esther is shattered by Lady Dedlock's revelation. Richard's obsession with the Jarndyce case has grown to worrying proportions. Guppy puts himself at risk when he gets in the way of Tulkinghorn's enquiries. And Tulkinghorn at last has cast iron proof of Lady Dedlock's guilt, and issues her with a terrible ultimatum.
Tulkinghorn believes Lady Dedlock is in his power, but she continues to defy him. George's anger knows no bounds when Tulkinghorn breaks his promise and leaves him in financial ruin. And a marriage proposal surprises Esther - but is it from the right man?
Richard is in dire straits but Ada and Esther may be too late to help him. An unexpected meeting with Woodcourt raises uncomfortable questions for Esther. Jo the crossing sweeper is critically ill, and despite Woodcourt's best attempts it is a matter of life and death. Tulkinghorn discovers Lady Dedlock's defiance with disastrous consequences.
Esther's feelings for Woodcourt grow stronger despite her best intentions. Inspector Bucket begins his murder investigation with no shortage of suspects. An early arrest appears to wrap the case up quickly, but a spate of poison pen letters suggests that all is not as it seems.
Richard and Ada's news causes great concern for Esther and Jarndyce. Inspector Bucket's investigation gathers steam when he tracks down the mysterious letter writer. As evidence mounts against Lady Dedlock, Bucket sets a trap for the killer - with astonishing results.
As Bucket wraps up his investigation, there's yet more trouble for Lady Dedlock in the shape of the evil moneylender Smallweed, who has evidence of her secret past and intends to use it. Cornered and desperate, Lady Dedlock makes a terrible decision.
Richard's obsession with Chancery has left him desperately ill. Ada is pregnant but worries Richard will not live to see the child. When Woodcourt proposes marriage, Esther is torn between her love for him and her commitment to Jarndyce. The impossible finally happens - a result in Chancery - but it's one that will astound everybody.
Months have passed since the dramas surrounding Tulkinghorn's death in the final instalment of the Charles Dickens adaptation. Ada worries that a desperately ill Richard will not live to see the child they are expecting. Esther is forced to turn down the heartfelt advances of Woodcourt, and Smallweed makes a discovery that leads to the sudden conclusion of the long-running Jarndyce case - but the result shocks everyone concerned