The new six-part series which starts this Sunday on BBC One offers a chilling twist on the tale.
Written and executive produced by Mr Knight with Tom Hardy, Ridley Scott, Dean Baker, David W Zucker, Kate Crowe and Tommy Bulfin for the BBC, the hour-long episodes will transport viewers to a darker Dickensian world.
Speaking about the version, Mr Knight said: “You couldn’t write about certain things in Dickens’ time: certain elements of sexuality, crime, disobedience against the crown and state.
“What I tried to do was imagine if Dickens was writing the story now and had the freedom to go to those darker places, what would he do?
“If he had been liberated to write the things that were going on that he wasn’t allowed to write about.”
But there will be a few bright stars to light the way.
Who is in the cast for the new Great Expectations?
Olivia Colman leads as the bitter Miss Havisham, jilted at the altar and now bent on revenge.
“There’s a couple of things we changed once we knew she would be in the role – a couple of what you’d call saucy lines where you know she’s going to pull it off in a way that it’s going to be just right,” said Knight.
While Ms Colman said the first time she read the script she thought it was “much darker than what I had remembered from school.” But it also offered some light-relief with “quite a few bottom slapping moments, which I did not recall from the original Dickens!”
Fionn Whitehead plays the Pip, a young man desperate to make his way in the world under the tutelage of Miss Havisham.
And Shalom Brune-Franklin takes on Estella, Miss Havisham’s adopted daughter and puppet.
“Estella is like Miss Havisham’s doll in an incredibly toxic environment,” said Ms Brune-Franklin, “She’s raised to be a cruel and cold heartbreaker and that’s the beginning of the journey that we see in the show.”
The full cast list includes:
Ashley Thomas – Mr Jaggers
Johnny Harris – Magwitch
Hayley Squires – Mrs Sara Gargery
Owen McDonnell – Mr Joe Gargery
Laurie Ogden – Biddy
Matt Berry – Mr Pumblechook
Tom Sweet – Young Pip
Trystan Gravelle – Compeyson
Rudi Dharmalingam – Wemmick
Chloe Lea – Young Estella
Bronte Carmichael – Young Biddy
The first episode airs this Sunday at 9pm with the five remaining instalments shown on successive weeks. It will also be available on BBC iPlayer.