Thirteen-year-old Nell Trent lives with her ailing grandfather (Sebastian Shaw) in a run down London antiques shop. Unknown to her and her faithful friend Kit (Chris Fairbank), her grandfather has a ruinous gambling addiction which has left them all but penniless.
To feed his addiction, Nell’s grandfather has been borrowing money under false pretences from Daniel Quilp (Trevor Peacock), a deformed and vicious local businessman with dishonourable intentions towards the little girl.
Now Quilp has discovered where his money has gone, he wants it back – and Nell with it. Desperate and penniless, Little Nell and her grandfather take flight, wandering the countryside in a frantic bid to stay one step ahead of Quilp. It is a journey that will ultimately end in tragedy for everyone involved.
Adapted by William Trevor, The Old Curiosity Shop is BBC costume drama at its very best, with a distinguished supporting cast including Colin Jeavons, Patsy Byrne and Granville Saxton.