A crime wave hits Cranford in this Sunday’s near perfect episode of BBC1’s costume drama hit.
“We shall have to put shutters on the shop, like you see in Manchester,” declares store co-owner Mrs Johnson.
Some 7.9m viewers watched last weekend’s visit to the Cheshire village, with 3.2m for the teatime repeat of the first episode.
That Cranford debut had already attracted 8m viewers for its original screening.
Episode three is simply not to be missed.
It begins in November 1842 and takes in Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Shrove Tuesday.
The relationship between Miss Matty (Dame Judi Dench) and Mr Thomas Holbrook (Michael Gambon) moves centre stage.
There’s much more to savour, including scenes between Mr Carter (Philip Glenister) and young Harry Gregson, played by the talented Alex Etel.
Mr Carter is also involved when Lady Ludlow (Francesca Annis) has urgent Christmas Eve business in Cranford.
Lisa Dillon again impresses as forward-thinking orange-sucker Mary Smith.
And Imelda Staunton continues to portray the comedy genius of Miss Pole.
“Men. They’re all the same,” announces Miss Pole, in fear of thieves and vagabonds.
“They know everything about everything, save when it is to happen and how it can be stopped.
“My father was a man. I think I understand the sex.”
Heartbeat fans will be interested in the arrival of Joe McFadden.
He plays Dr Jack Marshland, a friend of Dr Harrison from London, now working at Manchester Infirmary.
It’s a beautifully written episode, something to cherish on a cold winter’s night.
There’s also a spot of piano playing by Jessie Brown (Julia Sawalha), dutiful daughter to Captain Brown (Jim Carter).
Cranford was Julia’s first job in three years after she gave up acting, intending never to return.
The Absolutely Fabulous and Pride and Prejudice star explains all in Friday’s MEN.
Update: The online version of that TV feature is here.
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