This holiday television view season for me was bookended by the Return to Cranford series showing on the BBC. I will admit to some trepidation as Cranford itself was a wonderful run up to the 2007 Holiday season. If you have not seen Cranford with its star studded and award winning cast, do. It is fantastic. So I was very excited and slightly worried when I saw the trailer for Return to Cranford. Could the production team do it again?
Before I watched the programme, I thought that it was not going to be as good. It couldn't be. Then after the opening credits, I was hooked and knew it was just as good , if not better. The production has woven two more of Gaskell stories into the plot. As ever it is the little details which make the series.
Return to Cranford starts in August 1844, and change is coming. The railway has reached Hanbury Halt but can proceed not further. However, that Return to Cranford does not shy away from heartache but it is also warmfully heart warming.The Ladies of Cranford still hold sway with Miss Mattie (Dame Judi Dench) and Miss Poole (Imelda Staunton) providing memorable turns. Miss Poole , the parrot and the cage is priceless. Nobody minds in Sir Robert Peel is used to cover various chairs to prevent lime droppings, but droppings must not go on a newspaper article about a princess.
The focus is on several new families -- namely the Buxton and the Bells. They provide the major source of romance and you can not help but cheer as the characters grow. I will admit to thinking William Buxton (Tom Hiddleston) did not have much about him at first and boy was I wrong! He proved to be a wonderful romantic hero with plenty of determination and integrity.
The chemistry grows between him and Peggy and there are certain sigh worthy moment. It goes to show how little details, like the brushing of a skirt can provide a tremendous amount of sexual tension.
With his daughter off in India with her new husband, Captain Brown finds comfort in an unexpected quarter which causes ructions amongst the ladies.
Lady Ludlow waits too long for her dastardly son (wonderfully played by Rory Kinnear) and thus change must come to Hanbury. Harry, the young boy whom Mr Carter left his fortune to has a part to play and there was one point where my daughter and I kept going -- But, but they can't kill Harry, can they? So we watched with our hearts in our mouths. I did reach for my hankie.
By the time the series ends, it is a three hankie affair and you feel all is right with the world. And you want to see more. Luckily, the BBC issued the dvd on 28 December and so I can watch it again!
It is truly Bonnets at the ready and fantastic feel good viewing. As the BBC did the production with WGBH Boston, it will be on Masterpiece Theatre. It is one to look out for. You can read more about the production and everything behind it at the Cranford Chronicles.