The Village is an epic drama series for BBC One starring Maxine Peake and John Simm, charting the life and turbulent times of one English village across the whole of the 20th century, written by Bafta-winning writer Peter Moffat. The Village charts the life and turbulent times on one English village throughout the twentieth century with the life and memories of one man, Bert Middleton, providing the backbone to the story as he lives across the entire hundred years. From boyhood to extreme old age Bert witnesses births and deaths, love and betrayal and the great political events and social upheaval that shaped and made Britain and his village what it is today.
Thoroughly enjoyed both seasons of The Village. Season one really sets the scene and begins developing the characters which bodes well for season two. Yes, it is gloomy and portrays hardship and struggles but it is well scripted and acted. Oh, if only there was a series three. That's the only gripe I have.
Don't get me wrong - I'm a huge fan of Downton. But not so blinded by its periodic dollops of saccharine dosed wish-fulfillment that I'm convinced this is what life must have been like for the average person in the early years of the Twentieth Century. For anyone who is, BBC's The Village will definitely provide the necessary antidote!
And it makes for suitably grim viewing as we witness the everyday domestic dramas of both high and low lived out against the backdrop of the Great War; the high personified by local gentry, the Allinghams, embodying all of the entitlement of the upper classes; the low personified by the Middletons, a (subsistence) farming family presided over by John (John Simm) and Grace (Maxine Peake) whose eldest son, Joe, goes off to fight.
The period detail, as might be expected from the BBC, is excellent, and the Peak District setting, at times, quite spectacular. Like all period dramas, it has its stock characters; its heroes and villains at which we are encouraged to either cheer or boo at appropriate moments in the story.
Nevertheless, this is a brilliant slice of fictionalized social history. It comes at an apposite time, commemorating, as we are, the centenary of the start of the `war to end all wars'- and all delivered by a top-notch cast.
Between it being a BBC production and it starring John Simm and Maxine Peak, this is must see TV. Spanning the long life (over 100 years) of a boy and his village, Season One starts prior to and the outbreak of WWI. The writing, acting, costumes, cinematography and mood of this show is amazing. I highly recommend it. Amazing.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Village. The acting was top notch, the period setting well researched and executed, storylines authentic, the production values slick. The idea, I believe, is to chart the history of an unnamed village through the whole of the twentieth century through the eyes of one of its inhabitants - an epic undertaking which, I hope, runs its course.
The first series is set during the period 1913 - 1920, the same time period as Downton Abbey. Be warned though, for those of you expecting another pretty, well made, soap opera love fest between the classes in a period setting, The Village is as far removed from that as possible. This series is about harsh reality and imperfect people. And boy, is it harsh.
The Village is unrelentingly grim and heart-wrenching. I challenge even the most hard-hearted to not tear up at least once. No one in this village seems to smile. Everyone lives under a cloud of misery and drudgery - physical, emotional or both, regardless of whether they are the lords of the manor, the middle class villagers or the dirt poor farmers.
And that, really, is the one criticism I have of this show. I am well aware that life in those times was very difficult and it was often a struggle to stay alive and have enough to eat, but surely people found some happiness some time. Surely they still smiled and laughed on occasion; had some joy in their lives, however small.
It is for this reason that I have given this show 4 instead of 5 stars. If the idea is to show life the way it really was at the start of the last century, then the makers should show all facets of life, not just the grimness and misery. Everyone has problems, but we manage to find something to be happy about.
My verdict - I would definitely recommend it, but would also recommend to the makers that the second series lightens up a bit.