Cranford is a BBC period drama, which aired in 2007. The series takes place in the 1840s in a small town, which is unsurprisingly called Cranford. The series stars Judi Dench as Miss Matty Jenkyns, Julia McKenzie as Mrs Forrester, Imelda Staunton as Miss Pole and Lisa Dillon as Mary Smith. During the premiere episode, the women of Cranford are thrown into a tailspin, due to the arrival of a new doctor, Dr. Harrison (Simon Woods, Rome). Harrison arrives and immediately meets with the man he will soon replace, Dr. Morgan (John Bowe).
While the women quickly work to learn more about the doctor, Harrison is quickly thrown to the wolves. Local carpenter, Jem Hearne (Andrew Buchan, Broadchurch), winds up breaking his arm. He is rushed to the doctor. All the while, the bone remains protruding from his arm. Dr. Morgan and Harrison argue over the appropriate treatment for the wound. Despite Morgan’s desire to amputate, Harrison believes he can fulfill Hearne’s desire and help him save his arm. The maneuver is risky and the local townswomen get all the wrong ideas. One moment, they believe Hearne’s arm will be removed. The next, they’re convinced the doctor has failed and Hearne is dead.
Thankfully, Harrison manages to pull it off, with a little bit of assistance from the local women. Meanwhile, Harrison is introduced to Sophy Hutton (Kimberley Nixon). Harrison is quickly thrown head over hills for the woman. This becomes a recurring theme of the series, as Harrison consistently works to win Sophy’s heart and convince her father that he is good for her. Also, the youthful Harry Gregson (Alex Etel) is an integral aspect of the show. Harry is from a poor family and is forced to steal, in order to feed his siblings. Unfortunately, his father is caught redhanded. This puts Harry in direct contact with Mr Carter (Philip Glenister). Carter is surprisingly a caring man, who quickly takes Harry under his wing. The boy is already wise beyond his years and Carter begins providing his with instructions and teaching him to read.
There are plenty of interesting characters in Cranford and they come together to incite an array of emotions. Sure, the series delivers a lot of laughs and a few uplifting moments, but it is mainly bleak and depressing. The acting is wonderful and each of the actors and actresses deliver an excellent performance and help to make Cranford an enjoyable experience, despite the overall bleakness of the show. It could be said that Cranford borderlines on morbid and this will undoubtedly turn off a lot of viewers.
However, it delivers in the finale and finally offers a little happiness for some of the characters. All in all, Cranford is a good watch, although it takes a little while to get going. Stick with the series and it’ll begin to hook you in by the middle of the first episode. And of course, the finale is great, so the series is well worth the adventure. A 7.5 out of 10 is deserved.