Great Expectations’ Pip star on ‘exhausting’ scenes with Estella

Sara whips a man on BBC Great Expectations

Great Expectations follows young Pip (played by Fionn Whitehead) as he tries to transform from a blacksmith’s boy to a gentleman in order to become rich and win the affections of Estella (Shalom Brune-Franklin). Fans last saw the pair separated as Pip was told his lessons with Miss Havisham (Olivia Colman) had come to an end and he would not see Estella again. Opening up on filming the scenes of Pip and Estella together, actor Fionn explained it was often “exhausting”.

In episode two of the BBC drama, Pip was given lessons in etiquette and dancing, which marked the moment he truly fell head over heels for Estella.

Speaking about their romance, Fionn explained: “Pip is kind of obsessed with Shalom’s character even though she is quite intimidating, harsh and cold with him.

“This couldn’t be further from the truth in real life. Shalom is a brilliant actor and so kind; we get on really well and have a real laugh in between takes.”

He went on to add: “It’s been great to be able to switch in and out of that because it would be exhausting to be really cold with each other the whole time, but we’ve been able to have a really good time.”

Fionn also opened up on working with Olivia, who stars as the “pretty scary” Miss Havisham.

“She’s an intimidating figure to him. He wants to learn from her and recognises that she is his only way into a world that he otherwise wouldn’t have access to,” the actor noted.

“So, he bears her so that he can get as much information out of her, but is also really wary of her.

“When you see Olivia done up as Miss Havisham she is such an intimidating character, completely opposite to Olivia in real life, who is unbelievably lovely, kind and hilarious.”

Fionn shared he had “such an amazing time working with” Olivia.

In the next episode, Pip will learn more about Mr Jaggers (Ashley Thomas) and the work he is required to do for him.

He quickly learns he must do everything Mr Jaggers asks of him in order to win the heart of Miss Estella and stay alive.

Fionn explained: “The dynamic between Pip and Jaggers is like an abusive relationship.

“Pip does everything Jaggers says and commits all kinds of terrible acts for and with Jaggers because he thinks that this is what he should do to become a gentleman.

“But, as it goes on, he starts to draw out the humanity in Jaggers and see that he’s not as clear cut as he first appears.

“He’s not just evil and, actually, some of the things he does he does for reasons that he tries not to let onto anyone, and I think that Pip breaks through some of that.”

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The synopsis for episode three reads: “Devastated at being denied entrance to Satis House, Pip is found in a sorry state by Mr Jaggers, who tells him he has been sent by Miss Havisham and Miss Estella.

“In fact, Estella doesn’t want Pip to go with Mr Jaggers, but Pip knows nothing of this and is instead wowed by the worldly presence of Jaggers and the offer he provides: a cheque for £5,000, an apartment in London and a position in his legal chambers.”

It further adds: “Back in Gravesend, those who Pip left behind are thrilled to receive letters telling of his new life.

“However, Estella knows nothing of her upcoming nuptials until she reads of them in Pip’s letter. Jaggers introduces Pip to the repellent Mr Drummle, the man who is soon to be married to Estella.

“If Pip will help Jaggers to ruin Drummle’s business, then Estella may be freed from her engagement.”

Great Expectations airs Sunday on BBC One at 9pm.

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