Lark Rise to Candleford – no more

Lark Rise to Candleford has been a real treasure from the trove that is BBC Television.

Each episode was a pleasure in and of itself whilst enriched by watching as a series as the characters and plot developed – it lasted four series and forty episodes.

There will be no fifth series as the BBC have decided not to re-commission one.  This has caused a popular outcry and I can understand why.  I have not read the Flora Thompson trilogy of books on which the series is based and if the series ended in step with the trilogy then I can understand its ending – but this does not appear to be the case and the BBC explanation for its demise I find vague and very puzzling.

I enjoyed so much about this program – from its opening theme composed by Julian Nott, its narration by Sarah Lancashire (as the adult Laura Timmins and sounding uncannily like Olivia Hallinan the actor who plays her on screen), the acting of all the Lark Rise and Candleford residents and the observational and subtle writing.

There were some impressive male performances most notably for me Brendan Coyle as Robert Timmins before he disappeared in Series 4 – for employment as Lord Grantham’s valet at Downton Abbey it seems!

Julia Sawalha as Dorcas Lane

The women though I thought made the show. Dorcas Lane played with consummate skill by Julia Salwalha was the centre-piece of the program – not just its post-mistress but the moral anchor of Candleford as Emma Timmins (outstandingly performed by Claudie Blakley) the moral anchor of Lark Rise.

Olivia Hallinan was another formidable performance as Emma’s daughter Laura.  I have been enjoying her as Kim in the re-airing of Sugar Rush on 4 Music where again she also serves has that program’s narrator and beating heart.

Matilda Ziegler and Victoria Hamilton were memorable too as the Pratt Sisters – owners, designers and dress-makers of their own women’s clothing store. The fashions of the period were another pleasure for me of this series – though I think I enjoyed the fashion of Dorcas more than that of Ruby and Pearl!

I found the writing sharp, funny and moving and a fascinating social history of English rural life at the end of the 19th Century.

I will miss Lark Rise to Candleford very much.

And another set of books to add to my never-ending reading list!

Sugar Rush – Sugar Fix

I am pleased to see this Shine Limited production 2005 series of Sugar Rush, based on the Julie Burchill novel, originally aired on Channel 4 being reprised on 4 Music.

A chance to see again Olivia Hallinan playing a smart and determined character in Kim Daniels – before her more familiar recent role doing the same for Laura Timmins in Lark Rise To Candleford – with her sugar crush on Maria Sweet played by Lenora Crichlow.

A brave, upfront and funny show exploring young gay love and heart-break amongst a backdrop of troubled family life …if not entirely brave by Channel 4 showing it often in the deep hours of the night.

I wonder also the basis for the repeat on 4 Music and not on Channel 4 itself or E4 – apart from One Way or Another a song from the Blondie Parallel Lines album on the opening credit and other music forming some of the soundtrack to each episode this is hardly a music show.  If it were on that basis almost any show on Channel 4 it seems could end up re-aired on 4 Music.

Nevertheless I am  happy to relive their Brighton exploits so am not too concerned the basis for its 4 Music Airing!

I am though girding myself for its sudden ending – a series that was barely in its stride before the schedulers brought it to a grinding halt. A great shame.