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Masterpiece Classic: Cranford - Part 1

Airs Sunday, December 27, 2009 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Shown (l-r): Lisa Dillon as Miss Mary Smith, Eileen Atkins as Miss Deborah Jenkyns, Dame Judi Dench as Miss Matty Jenkyns and Imelda Staunton as Miss Pole. A sleepy 1840s English village comes to life with gossip, parties, romances, sudden death, bankruptcy, and the drama of an encroaching railway, on this series based on the beloved Victorian-era writings of Elizabeth Gaskell.

A sleepy 1840s English village comes to life with gossip, parties, romances, sudden death, bankruptcy and the drama of an encroaching railway in the three-part “Cranford,” based on the beloved Victorian-era writings of Elizabeth Gaskell, who combines the romantic flair of Jane Austen with the class-consciousness of Charles Dickens. The all-star cast includes Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon, Francesca Annis, Imelda Staunton and enough other top actors to populate a picturesque hamlet.

In part one, Mary Smith flees a crisis at home in Manchester to stay with two spinster sisters, Deborah and Matty Jenkyns, in the small, rural town of Cranford. Deborah is the dominant force in Cranford society, and the kind-hearted and eccentric Matty believes her to be the best judge in all matters. A handsome, new young doctor, Frank Harrison, is brought to Cranford, and his bachelor status is the talk of the town.

Watch a series preview plus behind-the-scenes video.

The full program "Cranford" will be available for online viewing December 21, 2009 - January 10, 2010.

Episode two will follow this broadcast at 11 p.m. Get information about episode three.

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