Apart from the costumes, rural scenery, gifted acting and wonderful music, what is it that gave Cranford such appeal? Set in 1842, the small town society is far from perfect. There is nosiness, gossip and Gaskell’s gentle humour at the polite idiosyncrasies and petty hypocrisies of keeping up appearances. Still living under the shadow of what happened across the Channel 50 years before, the upper and middle classes rationalise their prejudices against the poor and resistance to change by fears of a French-style revolution in England.
A different country?
For five weeks running up to Christmas, the BBC treated the nation to the excellent series Cranford, based on the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell, and originally published in Charles Dickens’ magazine Household Words.
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