Episode one aired of the Masterpiece Classic presentation of Cranford last Sunday, and even though the main characters are all women, the supporting male cast is quite commendable. My favorite male performers were Simon Wood (Dr. Harrison) and Alistair Petrie (Major Gordon). I guess that you can assume that I am easily swayed by smart men who save lives and fight for England. Like Lydia Bennet, I am always partial to a handsome man in uniform!
Both of these fine British actors have Jane Austen connections in their background having played supporting roles in Austen adaptations in the past; Simon Woods as Charles Bingley in Pride and Prejudice (2005), and Alistair Petrie as Robert Martin in Emma (1996).
I did not make the connections immediately, but soon my memory dawned and I remember Simon because of his smile, which I should never have been forgotten because we all know that Charles Bingley smiled great deal at Jane Bennet. I think that I was thrown by his hair! It looked so normal and flattering, as opposed to the 'There's Something About Mary' hairdo that he was given in Pride and Prejudice.
Alistair Petrie was a slower connection. I did not remember him immediately as Robert Martin from Emma, mostly because he had a smaller role, and it has been 13 years since the Kate Beckinsale version of Emma aired and he is now a mature man. Maybe I was just watching the brass buttons on that tall uniform, or was lulled by his beautiful Scottish accent. La!
Honorable mention goes to the young Alex Etel, the bright but impoverished Harry Gregson who tugged at my sympathies but was not maudlin. For one so young, he is either naturally talented or exceptionally directed to play his scenes so smoothly and unaffected.
I understand that this is his third acting engagement, and next after playing Angus MacMorrow in the big screen fable, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep in 2007. What a fine David Copperfield or Oliver Twist we would have made. It is unfortunate that both novels have been filmed by the BBC recently in 1999 and 2005 respectively. Boys grow so fast a this age, that I fear that he has already lost that window.
I hope that you all enjoyed the first episode of Cranford and will continue on with the next installment next Sunday, May 11th at 9:00 pm on PBS. You can read the synopsis of episode two here. I highly recommend it, and as we all know, the second act of any play, movie or opera is always the best. (Case in point, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, but that is another genre, and I must not digress!)
Posted by Laurel Ann, Austenprose