While we were busy having fun with The Archers and Kevin Spacey yesterday, there wasn’t time to give Auntie Beeb a big thumbs up over the news that the rather excellent Cranford will return for two new episodes over Christmas 2009.
There are so few stories we get to comment on here at TV Today towers that have anything positive about them - we’re frequently being sniffy or shouty about one thing or another. Well, I am at any rate, but the news of this recommission is just plain nice and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.
Without doubt, Cranford was my TV highlight of 2007 - studded like a tiara with star talent, funny, witty and poignant, the series embodied everything that is great about British television drama.
Before I go on, the next paragraph contains spoilers for the first run, so read on at your peril…
The one down side of the return of Cranford (you see, I can usually find something to complain about) is that the two specials will not be able to take advantage of the singular talents of Dame Eileen Atkins and Philip Glenister. With the sage Miss Deborah Jenkyns and the stoic Mr Carter meeting their ends throughout the run, unless by some divine means, we will be denied further adventures for these great characters.
However, it is expected that the new episodes will see the return of Dame Judi Dench as Miss Matty, Francesca Annis as Lady Ludlow and Imelda Staunton as Miss Pole, amongst other familiar faces. It would be unthinkable for Cranford to return without Julia McKenzie as Miss Forrester, but with McKenzie’s new duties as Miss Marple over on ITV, who knows if the schedule will work out. (A hint for the producers - make sure it does, or else there will be trouble)
But 2009?! That’s an awfully long time to wait. But I guess when you’re dealing with this much top-notch talent on your books, it’s no doubt an economy of necessity to make sure you get the people you want. It’s also an example of the new model BBC when it comes to commissioning - play the long game and invest in more prestige drama to get the results you want on screen. We might have to wait that bit longer, but it will, I’m sure, be more than worth it.
And let’s just remember, this is no time for sport, there is lace at stake!