'Appy Birfday, Mister Dikkins!

What to write? He said it all, literally. As we celebrate Dickens's 200th birthday, this is definitely the year to go back and remember why Charles really does deserve his hype.

Sure, watch the adaptations, but be selective. Lean is mandatory. Andrew Davies' exemplary 2005 Bleak House for the BBC beautifully balances the epic and the intimate, the poignant and the rambunctious. But Sarah Phelps' humourless Great Expectations screened this Christmas was an emo Burberry ad of a flop. Good thing Mike Newell's 2012 film would appear very difficult to fuck up, despite his controversial ending-change - with Helena Bonham Carter as Havisham , Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch and Robbie Coltrane as Jaggers, you'd have to do some pretty bad directing not to enter 'instant classic' territory.

Absolutely, dip into one of the biographies: Claire Tomalin and Simon Callow are deservedly hot right now, but Peter Ackyroyd's 1990 tome is still a classic.

And if you get a chance to watch Callow do him, go.

But above all, read the damn books. When dug out from under the layers of expectation and assumption, which begins with the curse of the curriculum; continues through ubiquitous and vague application of 'Dickensian' to anything fat, cockney and frock-coated; and peaks with Gillian Anderson going full retard, it is always surprising how funny, sophisticated and ambiguous they truly are.

Go on then: which one's your favourite and why?