- 2 Seasons
Directed by Simon Curtis and Steve Hudson, Cranford is a portrait of the inhabitants of a fictional English village during the mid-19th century, and it stars Eileen Atkins and Judi Dench. The village of Cranford, located in the county of Cheshire, is presided over by a legion of strong, upstanding, traditional English matrons. At the center of this group are Deborah (Atkins) and Matty (Dench). Deborah and Matty live alone, employing a single housemaid. They are both kindly spinsters living somewhat in the shadow of their long-lost brother, Peter, whose disappearance after a scandal long ago smashed both sisters' marriage prospects. Deborah is deeply religious, while Matty is quietly authoritative, though deferential to her older sister. Deborah and Matty's most frequent callers include Mrs. Pole (Imelda Staunton); a house guest, Mary Smith (Lisa Dillon); Augusta and Caroline Tomkinson (Deborah Findlay and Selina Griffiths respectively); Mrs. Forrester (Julia McKenzie); and the Honourable Mrs. Jamieson (Barbara Flynn). A local doctor, a vicar, and new residents Captain Brown and his daughters, and a young doctor, Dr. Harrison, comprise Cranford's other inhabitants. The series opens in 1840, upon the very eve of the Industrial Revolution. Captain Brown moves into Cranford and, after initially offending Deborah with his transparency and commonness, is soon welcomed into the community. While away, Captain Brown's youngest daughter perishes, and his elder daughter, Jessie, must abandon tradition and walk behind the coffin. Deborah and Matty accompany her. Meanwhile, Dr. Harrison also arrives in Cranford. Dashing and handsome, he sets the hearts of the Cranford women aflame. The doctor soon develops eyes for the vicar's daughter, who cares for her younger siblings in their dead mother's absence. Captain Brown oversees the coming of a railway to Cranford, and the news rather overwhelms Deborah. Elsewhere, Lady Ludlow ponders whether to safeguard her son's inheritance, or cede land to the railway. Ever hopeful, the Cranford women cling proudly to the past, but must contend with modernity.