This special two-part feature takes up the story a year after the small Cheshire town celebrated the marriage of Dr Harrison to Sophy Hutton. It's August 1844 and Miss Matty's house is full of life and bustle now she has her brother, Peter, home from India and Marthas baby, Tilly, to keep her busy. The amazons of Cranford - Miss Pole, Mrs Forrester and Miss Tomkinson - still set the tone in all matters for the town and anticipate with great excitement the arrival of aristocratic Lady Glenmire. Lady Ludlow awaits the return of her long-absent son Septimus and young Harry Gregson prepares to start his education at Shrewsbury. Wealthy widower Mr Buxton has returned to Cranford, bringing with him his charming ward, Erminia and his handsome Eton-educated son, William. And, at nearby Thorn Cottage, Peggy Bell is trying to make the best of things caring for her mother and brother Edward. Despite the best efforts of Captain Brown to bring the modern age right into the heart of King Street the railway has stopped five miles outside Cranford. However, life never stands still for long and Cranford is about to change in some unexpected ways.
Excellent period costume drama - superbly well done
- Return to Cranford review by RP
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'Return to Cranford' is a 2-part 'Christmas special' broadcast in 2009 as a follow-up to the original 5-part series broadcast in late 2007.
It's a BBC period costume drama. That means it's about the best there is, with excellent performances, excellent production values and locations, sets and costumes as near perfect as they can be. No cheap shortcuts here!
The acting is excellent, with big name Brit actresses Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton, Julia McKenzie, Eileen Atkins, Celia Imrie and so many more - you'll recognise their faces from every period drama you've seen. That is perhaps the only weak point - faces that have become familiar from more recent series such as 'Downton Abbey' are here, but of course in different roles.
Cranford is a fictional village in Cheshire, the location shots are from the beautiful National Trust owned village of Lacock in Wiltshire, and the railway that features in the storyline was shot at the Foxfield light railway in Staffordshire. Every location is superbly chosen and the studio interiors are also really well done.
The tale is told with great humour (including the 'bird cage' incident) and includes a superbly over-the-top cameo by Tim Curry as magician Signor Brunoni. The closing scene is of a waltz, a highly risqué dance for a northern village such as Cranford!
I mentioned ITV's 'Downton Abbey' earlier. While that is popular it's a little too 'modern' for me - 'Cranford' is based on Mrs Gaskell's novels of the period while 'Downton' is wholly modern fiction. 'Cranford' is the real thing, if you know what I mean...