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Posts Tagged ‘Heidi Thomas’

I’ve now watched Return to Cranford (that’s the title on the DVD, though on TV it was just billed as the Cranford Christmas special) twice. When I first watched it, over the Christmas holidays, I found myself slightly bewildered, as I didn’t remember who all the characters were or how they tied in with one another. However, after re-watching the original series I did get a lot more out of this sequel, as I’d hoped. I’m going to discuss the whole plot in this review, so, if you haven’t watched it yet, you might want to come back to my review after you have!

Rereading Cranford, I was surprised to find that the major storyline about the railway arriving and causing upheaval to the old-fashioned small town, which is at the centre of this two-part drama, carrying on from the end of the first series, isn’t in the book at all. As I mentioned in my review of the first series, it contained quite a lot that isn’t in Gaskell’s text, including some of the most moving incidents – but there is even more new material in this two-part series. In fact, just about the only sections which are taken from Gaskell’s Cranford stories are the story about Mrs Jameson’s cousin, Lady Glenmire (Celia Imrie) coming to stay and dismaying her snobbish relation with her down-to-earth attitude… plus the hilarious sequence about Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton) ordering a “cage” from Paris for her pet cockatoo (this is the plot of the short story The Cage at Cranford)  and another comic section, near the end, about a magician, Signor Brunoni (Tim Curry) putting on a show in the town.

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Dame Judi Dench, Lisa Dillon and Dame Eileen Atkins as Miss Matty, Mary Smith and Miss Jenkyns.

First of all, sorry to have been silent – I’ve been busy again, but have been watching costume dramas even though I haven’t been writing about them! Elizabeth Gaskell is one of my favourite 19th-century authors and I’m now planning to have a season on my blog about adaptations of her work, starting with Cranford and its sequel and then going on to North and South and Wives and Daughters.

There were also 1970s adaptations of all these books, which I would love to compare with the more recent versions, as well as a 1964 Mary Barton and a 1982 version of her novella Cousin Phillis – but sadly none of these are ever repeated or available on video/DVD, so it seems unlikely I’ll get the chance to see them unless the BBC starts delving into its archives.

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I was intrigued today to see an article in the Daily Telegraph about a new follow-up series to 1970s hit Upstairs, Downstairs being made, with Jean Marsh returning as Rose, now a housekeeper, and Dame Eileen Atkins also expected to star.

The original series was made by ITV but this will now be made by the BBC – Heidi Thomas, who did the screenplay for Cranford, is writing the script. ITV has a drama on a similar theme in production, Downton Abbey. It seems as if you wait ages for a series about the family and servants in a great house, then two come along at once!;)

 I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the original series of Upstairs Downstairs, so will have to try to catch up with some of it before the new one starts! Anyway, good to see the BBC making another costume drama – this one will begin around 1930.

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