IT is all go once again in Cranford.
The first Monday morning of British Summer Time brought some good news…about Christmas 2009.
That’s when we’ll see a new two-part BBC1 Cranford Christmas special.
Sadly, there can be no return for Philip Glenister, Sir Michael Gambon or Dame Eileen Atkins.
Their characters all died in the original award-winning serial, screened last year.
But Dame Judi Dench will reprise her role as spinster Miss Matty Jenkyns in the serial based on three novels by Knutsford-raised Elizabeth Gaskell.
She will be joined by Imelda Staunton, Jim Carter, Francesca Annis and Julia McKenzie for the special.
Mrs Gaskell, who later lived in Longsight, based Cranford on Knutsford and told the story against the backdrop of the Manchester railway on its way to Cheshire.
The new films will again be made in Wiltshire and London as Knutsford had changed too much to be used as a period location.
They will return to the story in September 1844, a year after the town celebrated the wedding of Dr Harrison (Simon Woods) and Sophy (Kimberley Nixon).
The drama has already won awards and is nominated for four more at next month’s BAFTA TV Awards, including Best Actress for both Dame Judi and Dame Eileen Atkins, who played her screen sister.
Produced and championed by Cheshire-born Sue Birtwistle, Cranford featured 22 leading actors.
BBC head of series and serials Kate Harwood said: “Cranford captured the hearts of the nation last year as every week nearly eight million viewers tuned in to catch up with Miss Matty and her fellow villagers.
“I am delighted that we are able to bring these much loved characters back to life for a Christmas special in 2009, and once again unite an unprecedented pool of talent to thrill and entertain our audiences.”