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4.6 out of 5 stars182
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 2 June 2015
Very disappointing. It is obviously very well made with a fabulous cast , well staged etc etc.
But...its really a Victorian soap opera. The action , such as it is , consists of very little more than a group of small town , small-minded middle aged gossips who spend their time doing very little,but feel compelled to chat about it. Endlessly.
I love classic literature and BBC adaptions are always well done , but this is so boring with no dramatic impetus at all.
It depends what you want.Its certainly undemanding entertainment , but about half way through I had got so fed up with the characters I did something I almost never do...I gave up on it!.
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on 1 January 2016
Really great series
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"Cranford," a typically lush British Broadcasting Company comic costume drama, is based on the classic works of Mrs.Elizabeth Gaskell, a celebrated British Victorian-era novelist. The Emmy-nominated production, in five episodes, uses Gaskell's "Cranford," with added material from two of her short stories, one about Lady Ludlow, and one about young Dr. Harrison. It is set in 1842-3 in a small rural Cheshire town, based by the author on the real town of Knutsford. The gorgeous location filming was done in Hertfordshire; with Ashridge Park, Little Godesden, modeling for Lady Ludlow's estate, Hanbury. It boasts a large cast of top-rank British actors, and more stars than there are in Heaven, as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer used to like to boast. Americans saw the series on the Public Broadcasting System's "Masterpiece Theater."

The story, clearly aimed at the demographic of an older female audience, who love the filmed work of Merchant/Ivory -- just like me, of course, as charged --centers on the women of Cranford, most of them no longer young, robbed of any chance at marriage by the Napoleonic wars. They face unprecedented change, as outsiders start moving into their lovely village, and the railroad fast approaches. They are also forced to live lives limited by their finances and their social positions in the patriarchal society of the time. Most prominent among them are the acclaimed stage actress Eileen Atkins( Cold Mountain [DVD] [2003]), as Deborah Jenkyns, local social arbiter, and the Oscar-winning Dame Judi Dench ( "M" in the latest James Bond movies; -As Time Goes By - Series 1 [DVD] [1992]) as her younger warmer sister, Miss Matty. Imelda Staunton, (Vera Drake [DVD] [2004]) as Miss Pole; Julia MacKenzie (Agatha Christie - Marple - Series 4 [DVD] [2009]), as Mrs. Forrester; and Barbara Flynn (Cracker Complete Collection [DVD] [1993]), as Miss Jamieson, do strong, funny work as their satellites. Francesca Annis, (Lillie - The Complete Series [1978] [DVD]) still beautiful, gives us an admirable Lady Ludlow. We also get distinguished performances from several more women: Lisa Dillon as Mary Smith; Rosy Byrne as Lizzie Hutton; Kimberley Nixon as Sophy Hutton; Julia Sawalha (Absolutely Fabulous - Absolutely Everything); as Jessie Brown, and Emma Fielding, as Miss Galindo, who seems to utter a lot of thoughts, on the subject of women's difficult lives, that may well have been the author's. As the Tomkinson sisters, Selina Griffiths and Deborah Findlay provide sweet comic relief.

There are also men in Cranford of course, and some very heavy-weight male actors playing them, though their parts are generally lighter than the women's. Chief among them must be the acclaimed Michael Gambon (The Singing Detective [DVD] [1986]), as Mr. Holbrook, a former suitor of Miss Matty's. Martin Shaw (P.D. James - Death In Holy Orders / The Murder Room [DVD]), shows up briefly as Peter Jenkyns, long-lost brother to the Jenkyns women. Jim Carter is a sturdy Captain Brown. Simon Woods is handsome, and light of touch, as young Dr. Harrison, who comes to town bearing new medical techniques, and somehow gets himself into trouble with the local womenfolk. Philip Glenister as Mr. Carter appears in every episode and may have the strongest, most dramatic individual scenes in the production. And playing right with him, to the hilt, as young Harry Gregson, a poacher's son is young Alex Etel, who shone so brightly as the little boy in Neil Jordan's film "Millions."

The photography of the 19th century rural countryside bursts with the Beeb's usual muted color; and with the Beeb, we can generally be sure that all costumes, interiors, modes of transport, landscapes, are as accurate as they can be. Unhappily for some viewers, the Cheshire locals will have their own strong country accent, with which Americans will not be comfortable. And, while looking elsewhere on the Internet, I found a comment about this production: "If you don't know what they're saying, turn on the subtitles." If only we could. It is fiddly work indeed trying to turn on those subtitles, and we failed at it in this house. Surely the BBC can do better for this all-star blue-ribbon production? Still, a viewer can follow the plot in its outlines, while, unfortunately, missing some of the dialog. But it's a fine portrait of a generation of intelligent, affectionate women forced to live straitened lives by forces well beyond their control.
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on 26 April 2009
I saw this five part drama on BBC every Sunday at nine, entering a world filled with gossip and heart-warming characters. I bought soon after it came out on DVD and finished it off last night non-stop for a soild five hours of brilliant television. Cranford is the place to be and live in total harmony apart from the spreading gossip and a wide poplaurtion of women owning the town. But when a new doctor arrives and the threat of a railway to destory this quiet place, everyone's lives will change either for the better or worse. There are some brilliant well-known actor and actress in this, each giving rave pefomances and characters you instanly warm to. Judi Dench is a great actress, I admire her since Mrs Brown and she still does a excellent job as Miss Matty, having a elder sister who's a strict spinster, falling for her former flame and going through some major tragdeys. Philip Glenister is great, a far different from Life On Mars, he plays Mr Carter with heart teaching a gypsy child and being Mrs Ludlow's agent. He's also a excellent actor that I admire, not drop dead handsome but there's something about him that takes a woman's fancy. Though it has many funny moments and romance in it, there is some distressing scenes with many characters deaths that are either tragic or shocking. Elizabeth Gaskell wrote North And South which I read that is also depressing and so is this, I was flooding with tears at the final epsodie which I will not spoil for anyone. But this is a brilliant BBC series for a long time, it's highly recommended to anyone who loves costume dramas with a difference.
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on 4 June 2009
This is an utterly joyful and poinient observation on rural life across the interwoven classes of eighteenth century northern england. It is both highly comical and seriously entertaining. Progress and new ways are threatening to affect all of the characters lives and we see how this impacts on them.
A must see.
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on 22 August 2011
I was pleasently surprised by my enjoyment of this particular series. I've always been a little sceptical of this drama and have avoided it like a plague; thinking that perhaps I'd get bored easily. The casting for this is extrordinary. This is delightful adaptation. Now I want to go on and read the books.
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on 3 August 2015
The best!!!
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on 4 January 2011
I thought I was going to find this a bit boring when I started to watch it, but after a while through the first episode I really got into it. It's very easy watching. If you enjoy period dramas you will love this series. You really get to like the characters and their foibles.
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on 1 April 2014
Set in a period of dramatic change in GB's tranquil past with villagers confronted by the industrial revolution in nearby Manchester. Good direction/acting, tranquil scenery and a gentle story. Ideal for feminine viewers over 40 who like period-dramas - and softies like me!
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on 18 July 2009
Cranford was a great watch. A little slow in starting but as soon as you got the gist of things was very pleasant watching. Very life like with joys and sadnesses al mixed together. Outstanding acting from Dame Judy. If you enjoy period dramas then you will enjoy this.
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