Charles Dickens's novel, Our Mutual Friend - illustration showing Lizzie and her father rowing along the Thames by J. Mahoney. Picture Credit: Culture Club/Getty Images
Critical Mash

A real pea souper

Rivers of filth bear our merry band to the grotesque wonders of Dickensian London

A river running with raw sewage, a parliament of self-serving rats and weasels, rapacious capitalism run amok…welcome to 1860s London!

This episode of Critical Mash dons its Hazmat suit to plunge into the Thames with the new National Theatre play London Tide, adapted by Ben Power from Dickens’s last novel Our Mutual Friend, with songs by Ben and PJ Harvey.

Join us as we gasp through the filthy waters of Victorian London, investigating the rubbish trade and the money trade, accompanying the painter James McNeill Whistler as he slums it with the body-fishers of Limehouse, and generally mucking about in boats on the River of Death.

Our guests are Ben Power, described as “the National Theatre’s secret weapon”, writer of the award-winning adaptation of The Lehman Trilogy and writer of the 2021 Netflix film Munich: The Edge of War; and Lee Jackson, curator of the website The dictionary of Victorian London – – and academic adviser to the Dickens Museum.

Returning to host are Robert Thicknesse and co-host Lucy Lethbridge, former Literary Editor of The Tablet, author of Tourists and Servants, who now writes about TV for The Tablet.

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