“.. the period drama of the year, and probably the series of the year.” --The Sunday Express
The hugely successful BBC classic drama adapted from Elizabeth Gaskell’s three novels of small town gossip, secrets and romance.
1842. Cranford, a market town in the North West of England, is a place governed by etiquette, custom and above all, an intricate network of ladies. It seems that life has always been conducted according to their social rules, but Cranford is on the cusp of change…
For spinsters Deborah Jenkyns, the arbiter of correctness in Cranford, and Matty, her demurring sister, the town is a hub of intrigue - a handsome new doctor Frank Harrison from London has arrived; a retired Army Captain and his daughters have moved in to a house opposite and the preparations for Lady Ludlow’s garden party are underway. Everyone - from charming rogue Dr Marshland to mean Mrs Jamieson and her lap dog – talks, and is talked about, behind closed doors.
The town also has its secrets which it slowly reveals: Matty’s encounter with an old flame at the garden party; Lady Ludlow’s land agent Mr Carter teaching a gypsy lad to read and write; the wild expectations of the May Day celebrations and - news that shakes the town when it is revealed - a railway line from Manchester is coming to Cranford.
Based on a trio of novels by Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford
is the latest in a long line of sumptuous costume dramas from the BBC. And its a fine addition to the BBCs heritage too, pulling together a stellar cast for an involving, highly enjoyable series thats well worth picking up on DVD.
The key asset Cranford has in its corner is that aforementioned cast. Its lead by the marvellous Dame Judi Dench, and shes in fine company alongside Dame Eileen Atkins, Francesca Annis, Michael Gambon, Julia Sawalha and Imelda Staunton. Theyre just some of the residents of Cranford in the 1840s, a town in the north of England on the verge of potentially dramatic changes.
In the midst of the general feeling of unrest comes a new Doctor, Frank Harrison (played by Simon Woods). His presence further unsettles matters, thanks to his appeal to the towns female contingent, and also his differing methods. From here, Cranford goes on to deliver an engrossing cocktail of humour, emotion and raw drama thats quite brilliantly put together.
Cranford is, ultimately, the kind of lavish production that weve come to know and admire from the BBC. Its a very good drama, spread across five episodes, that simply leaves you thirsting for the next time the corporation unlocks the costume cupboard. That time cant come soon enough. --Jon Foster
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