Monday, 18 February 2013

More costume dramas

I like to play a DVD while I do the ironing. And that then gives me a good excuse to sit and do something enjoyable when the final shirt is hanging in the wardrobe. A coffee. A little hand sewing. Time wasting.

I borrowed a series called Cranford from the library. Great cast. The stories centre on a small town in rural England in the 1840s. The lead characters are two sisters, and their friend who has come to stay with them. They have friends and their lives are comfortable rather than impoverished. Romantic love makes an occasional appearance. Death knocks and takes. Some people are generous and kind, others less so. The lifestyle in the village or town called Cranford is governed by a strict social code.

The series is a British production and so is restrained, less wordy, and less physical than a Bollywood or Hollywood film. Quite often the point is made by not saying and by using subtle body language. Colours reflect the social conditions. I felt that this series brought history to life for me. I am now better able to make connections between life in my country and life in Britain during the mid nineteenth century.

I found the mores and customs of the time and place to be challenging at times, but I believe they are quite accurate. People had so little access to good medical support. Employment conditions were harsh. Social position was based on both marital status and money. Arrogance was both common and accepted as the norm. Deference was the order of the day. At one point a woman's sister dies and no other family member is around at the time of the death. In Cranford women do not attend funerals at all. When one of the central characters defies this unwritten rule and attends the funeral with her bereaved friend the entire town is shocked. Some of the customs and practices were familiar to me, mainly due to my own European heritage. Others I have learned about.

If you get an opportunity to watch this series on TV or on DVD then try it. I do not think anyone would have to watch endless hours of Cranford to get the general picture. I enjoyed what I saw.


  1. Oh they had that on TV a while back and we really enjoyed it. I enjoy all those types of shows and the more recent "Downton Abbey" Upstairs Downstairs" etc.

  2. Oooh, I don't recognize the rest of those actors, but Dame Judi's presence alone will compel me to search this out. I'm a big BBC drama fan but I hadn't heard of this series. I agree with your assessment: enjoying Brit drama is a subtle art, especially after one has had one's senses assaulted by the over-dramatization (read over-the-top "acting") in typical American productions.

    Love anything set in this time period. The wonderful costumes are icing on the cake. Thanks for the heads-up, Louise!


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