Cranford: Imelda Staunton

Imelda Staunton as Miss Pole

HARRY Potter star Imelda Staunton is back in the delicious return of Cranford this Christmas.

Making a valid point about the cast of veteran actresses when we met last month.

“I don’t think we’d have got the parts if we had been Botoxed,” she said.

“It’s interesting that these are women who have just got history in their faces and you can’t do that if you’re an actress who messes around with your ‘mush’”

Those who follow me on Twitter will know that the ladies of Cranford baked cakes for the press at a small gathering on November 11.

Then taking part in a series of round table interviews after we had been the first people, outside the production team, to see the first of two new 90-minute films.

Fans of the original award-winning Cranford serial, screened from November 2007, need not worry.

Watching the return of Miss Matty (Dame Judi Dench) and co was equivalent to lying in a bath of warm chocolate while drinking a glass of chilled vintage champagne, having just won the Lottery.

TV heaven.

I’ve since transcribed thousands and thousands of words from that afternoon of interviews.

Dame Judi told the story about her visit to the dentist, dressed as Miss Matty, which you are no doubt familiair with by now.

And how she stepped in to help out when sounds from a parrot had to be “re-voiced” in a recording studio after filming had finished.

“I knew what it said because I did the scene with it over and over and over again,” she explained.

Director Simon Curtis also put forward his theory as to one of the reasons why we love this TV version of Cranford so much.

Woven together from the novels and other works of Cheshire-raised author Elizabeth Gaskell and present day screenwriter Heidi Thomas.

“People think about Desperate Housewives being aspirational,” he said.

“But I think Cranford is aspirational.

“I think people feel ignored and lonely in the modern world and they love the fact that there was this community they could aspire to.

“Where people know each other’s business and there are rules that they can follow or not follow.

“I think that actually touched a lot of people.”

*Cranford is on BBC1 at 9pm on Sunday December 20 and at the same time on Sunday December 27.

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