There’s only a few mentions of Christmas in the two series of Cranford (2007-2010), but something about the cozy biddiness of the whole thing makes me think of the winter holidays. The stories are utterly charming without being saccharine or stupid, and the acting is top notch thanks to Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton, Jim Carter, Francesca Annis, Julia Sawalha, Greg Wise, et. al. And, most of all, the ridiculous 1840s costumes are rendered perfectly by the expert stylings of Jenny Beavan.
Fire it up on DVD or your favorite streaming service, pour a cup of tea, and settle in for a couple hours of the finest the BBC can serve up!
Bonnets and caps and biddies, oh my!
But if we’re going to have bonnets, let’s go TO TOWN with the bonnets.
If you don’t love Judi Dench, we can’t be friends.
And plaid too. I give a side-eye at those who don’t like plaid.
1840s fashions are a weirdly wonderful transition between the excess of both the 1830s & the 1850s.
Much as I love these adaptations, the one thing about “The Cage at Cranford” is that cage crinolines weren’t actually invented until the mid 1850s, so although it’s a marvellous story and very, very funny and well told, fashion historians do have to turn a blind eye to this inconsistency! The short story stands separately from the Cranford novels as a “revisitation” so they fudged it into the source material. It helps that it’s done with so much charm and conviction and overall quality, but yes, it’s a pretty stonking anachronism. Nicely done, though!
My thoughts exactly. Especially when the dateline given for that particular episode was 1844! You’re right though, it was beautifully done.
I watched parts of this while recovering from surgery. I dozed off through parts of it, waking up when the music got louder or some shouting happened.
It’s a delightful set of characters for older actresses–which are a sadly underused resource.
Another one of those things to watch when you need to be made cheerful. Old women rock the world.
I should try to catch this show when it airs on WETAUK again [my local PBS station dedicated to British shows] if only to answer the question of why that cow was in a custom made sweater. And for a young Tom Hiddleston.
The cow had some skin infection, acquired I think, and was basically bare. Julia MacKenzie’s character owned the cow and was mortified that it would be naked until the skin recovered, so she made it a nice set of overalls!
Well that was very thoughtful. Probably helped the poor cow recover better too.
The character’s poor arms. I’ve gotten repetitive strain injuries from knitting and crocheting. I faint to think of what pain making a sweater that size entails.
The gate was left open and the cow escaped and got caught in a pool of lye, which burned off her fur so her skin was exposed
I love Cranford! I haven’t seen the second series yet, sounds perfect to watch over Christmas!
Loved both series of Cranford; but the second series is my favorite: it has a delightfully mop-topped and earnest young Tom Hiddleston.
Loved both too. I am a HUGE Francesca Annis fan and thought she was perfect as the Marchioness with a son who might have been Gay (think Sheridan Bouquet) and his MMA was totally like clueless.
But my favourite character was Dame Judi whom I wish to be when and if I grow up.
Another nice touch was the lady getting a better education thanks to Greg Wise and the marchioness.
The actress in the plaid (I’m part Scots and plaid is definitely in my wheelhouse) looked like Mary in Middlemarsh.
That’s Annette Crosbie’s daughter.
Thanks shellieeyre for the info.
In the first series of “Cranford” Judi Dench and Michael Gambon are so very very touching … and give a virtual Master’s class in acting.
Plus – if you are in Manchester, do go and visit the Gaskell House.
I’ve seen bits of Cranford and got a kick of who wore up to date things, outdated dress and expletive-that’s-Regency clothes. I also liked how old outfits were a minor plot point for at least one character.
I rented the first series of Cranford from the local public library, when I first moved to the small central Kentucky town where I still live, and was struck by the similarity between Cranford’s characters, and people I had met here—the show really captured the quirky essence of rural life, no matter the time. I’ll need to rent not only the first series again as a refresher, but the subsequent ones as well—the cow in the sweater sounds hilarious!
Being of Scottish descent, plaid is (almost) always high couture.
Judy Dench is a Goddess!
One of the loveliest costume details was Imelda Staunton’s sticky-up feather in her bonnet–everyone else had softly-curling plumes (or nothing, depending on their financial means), and her height-adding exclamation point of a feather said it all about her character.
Beautifully toned costumes–the colors all harmonize without looking match-matchy. Can you find a photo of the absolutely wonderful Dame Judi in her turban?
Give me the side-eye if you must. I wasn’t a huge fan of plaid before I attended Catholic school, but I loathed it by the time I was done. On others, of course, my opinion varies by contextual appropriateness,
Sorry, I just don’t like that dress.