In Little Dorrit the clownish support characters swarm in stealing many scenes, sometimes they're a little too interesting for their own good. Here are my favourites:
I love the snorting rent collector Mr Pancks. Doesn't he look like the lovechild of Jiminy Cricket and Porky Pig?
He's always speed walking those stumpy legs as he chases the tenants growling "Rent day! Rent day! ... *Snort*". Eddie Marsan the actor totally owns the role. If you've subjected yourself to 'Ultimate Force' for Richard Reasons then you may recognise him from the pilot.
Pancks moves like a character from a Charlie Chaplin movie, quick jerky expressive movements especially in the 'Tipsy Leap Frog' scene. Every character in Little Dorrit is imprisoned somehow, and Pancks is trapped in a dead-end job that scares everyone away as he wrings out every rent cent. He wishes for acceptance and friendship but receives avoidance and blame instead. When he knows his fortunes are changing, his first indulgence is buying quality food and drink for the harangued tenants. See he's not so bad.
I wished there was someone very short, bossy and wheezy for him as a romantic interest, this guy deserves a bit of snorty lovin'. Someone to enslave his desperate little heart and sand down the rough edges until it's as smooth as his bald head; give him a few mischievous Pancks juniors and take his mind off amateur sleuthing for a while.
Little Dorrit's tight little tapestry of interwoven characters and their close community really grow on you. I'm pairing off the single people in this show because in Dorrit town all the happy people are part of loving families or communities. Pancks is a pseudo-guardian of the community. The next step for him is the wife and kids! Speaking of matrimony, the other favourite character is the adorable flappy-eared John Chivery.
I challenge anyone to watch Little Dorrit and not be moved by his tearful proposal and hissy fits. Oh, he got me feeling all motherly! Poor John. "There, there young man. Nice guys don't finish last. No need to cry, in your job you'll meet plenty of other young women. Maybe prison isn't the most romantic place, but word will spread about your cute ears and boyish tears. Soon you'll be shutting yourself in the Marshalsea to get away from all the head patting cheek pinchers."
This guy's gut-wrenching earnestness is enough to restore any cynic's faith in humankind. His whole body is an open bleeding emotional wound. Imagine the intensity of Mr Thorton's proposal in North and South but minus the sexual tension, anger and self-consciousness. Replace it with pure adoration and chivalrous rejection. If only all prison officers were such diehard romantics with actor Russell Tovey's baby face.
Finally a special mention to Captain Slingo the shifty-eyed horse dealer. He only has one scene but he milks it for all it's worth. You'll be transfixed by his tongue!