Posted: 01/03/2010


Return to Cranford

by Del Harvey

Premiering January 10 & 17, 2010 on PBS. Check local listings for showtimes.

Film Monthly Home
Wayne Case
Steve Anderson
The Rant
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
The Indies
Film Noir
Coming Soon
Now Playing
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
Interviews TV

Cranford is a village on the far western reaches of what is now London’s city limits. For decades this immaculate jewel of a community remained unchanged. But now change is racing towards the close-knit village of Cranford like a steam train, quite literally. For the railroad continues to encroach upon the edge of town, and as some citizens of Cranford strive to accept new realities, others stand resolute that change must not come to their little world. But come it will, from surprising romances to unexpected losses and even, thanks to a surprising benefactor, dancing.

Matty Jenkyns (Judi Dench), Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton), Mrs. Forrester (Julia McKenzie) and Mrs. Jamieson (Barbara Flynn) are reunited in this amusing and gentle sequel along with the other distinguished residents of Cranford, including one well-outfitted and mischievous cow.

Miss Matty’s house is full of life and bustle. Her dream of having a child in the house has been realized in the birth of Tilly, daughter of her maid Martha and carpenter Jem. The shadow of the railway still looms but, to the relief of Matty and the Amazons, the line has been halted five miles outside of Cranford because of Lady Ludlow’s refusal to sell her land.

Elsewhere in Cranford Miss Matty’s friend Mr. Buxton (Jonathan Pryce) returns to town with his son, William, and his niece, Erminia. Miss Matty decides to introduce them to Peggy Bell, a young woman who lives in an isolated cottage with her mother and domineering brother, Edward, in the hope of building friendships. But when tragedy strikes, Miss Matty comes to believe that she has opened Pandora’s box and fears Cranford will never recover.

When a shocking event seemingly derails Cranford from its innocence, it may take a bit of magic and faith in enduring friendships to save the day.

Based on the stories of Victorian-era writer Elizabeth Gaskell, Return to Cranford also features Tom Hiddleston (Wallander) and Tim Curry.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

Got a problem? E-mail us at