For a costume designer, Lark Rise To Candleford is an interesting project to work on. The research beforehand means I get to spend hours looking at photographs and paintings of the period. It's a part of the job I particularly enjoy.

For this fourth series of Lark Rise To Candleford I spent four weeks designing and preparing the costumes and three months filming.

This spanned from July to October in 2009 and thankfully the majority of this happens in the Bath and Bristol area, which is handy as I live in Bath and the commute is a doddle.

I have designed programmes set in the 1890s before - one called Uncle Silas comes to mind as it had a similar rural subject matter.

The difference with Lark Rise To Candleford is that now it is in its fourth series the characters are well defined. The Pratt sisters, for instance, have very much evolved into the kind of WAGs of their day.

They pore over fashion plates from Paris (the fashion magazines of the time) and copy them but don't get them quite right - the fabrics are a bit too loud and their outfits verge on the tasteless.

This becomes more apparent when they stand alongside Dorcas, who tends to dress more elegantly and wears shapes that suit her, rather than what's the latest fashion.

For example, she has small proportions and the big leg of mutton sleeves that are fashionable would overwhelm her. The Pratts, on the other hand, don't give a damn - it's fashion, they will wear it.

Corsets are, of course, very much part of the female silhouette in this period and I love the way that the female actors shapes can radically change when they are in costume.

Julia Sawalha, who plays Dorcas, has a particularly malleable waist and I find it amazing how small a waist we managed to achieve with her.

Julia loved to wear her corset. Most of the cast found them uncomfortable and wanted to take them off at lunch time to have more freedom.

The only problem was that they then had to put them back on again and wear them for another five hours which they found even harder to take.

As much as I like designing around corsets, I also like to design more contemporary programmes.

I recently finished working on a 1940s project called The Night Watch for BBC Two, which involves doing as much research as for the 1890s and throws up different challenges such as the accuracy of Second World War uniforms.

This programme is based on a book by Sarah Waters and starts off post-war in 1947 and then moves backwards in time to 1944 and then 1941.

It is about the lives of four women and how they cope with the end of the war when suddenly they aren't needed in the work force anymore, and how their paths cross.

It was exciting to do, as there were blitz scenes and it was a nice change from Lark Rise To Candleford.

Luckily this was also shot in Bath and happened directly after Lark Rise To Candleford so it was relatively easy for my team and I to roll on to it (apart from being very tired).

My own style is pretty simple - I don't want to think about what I wear too much (I do enough of that for the actors).

The most important factor is comfort and, seeing as I spend 12 hours a day on my feet and am often dashing about picking up costumes that have been overlooked or added at the last minute, comfortable footwear is particularly important.

Also, much time is spent outside on exterior locations so warmth is an issue in winter especially. The Night Watch involved many night shoots in sub zero temperatures. I wear lots of layers and big padded jackets - oh, the glamour of it all!

Pam Downe is the costume designer for Lark Rise To Candleford.

Watch a clip of Pam and make up and hair designer, Lesley Faulkner talking about how they created Gabriel's look.

Series four of Lark Rise To Candleford begins on BBC One and BBC One HD at 8pm on Sunday, 9 January. Episode one is repeated on the BBC HD channel at 8pm on Monday, 10 January.

For further programme times, please see the upcoming episodes page.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

Tagged with:

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments.

  • Comment number 34. Posted by Nishka

    on 8 Aug 2011 21:44

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 33. Posted by JoAnn

    on 22 Jul 2011 22:02

    Hi Pam, I am not sure if you can help me, but I belong to a fan group for Lark Rise on the knitting forum Ravelry. We are interested in the shawl that "Mrs. Patterson" (the policeman's wife) is wearing in Season 2 Episode 10. She is in the garden after rising from her sick bed. We are interested in the pattern or where the shawl came from so that we may attempt a re-creation of the shawl. Thanks for your help.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 33: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 33: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 32. Posted by Michelle

    on 24 Feb 2011 22:21

    Please tell me about the knitted shawl that Emman Timmins and Queenie Turrel sometimes wear. Is is buttoned in the back or just tucked into their waistbands? Where can I get a pattern for that shawl? Thank you very much for bringing us a wonderful, intelligent show of life in 19th century rural England.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 32: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 32: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 31. Posted by helen935

    on 13 Feb 2011 22:15

    Congratulations to writer and producer. A joy to watch; both entertaining and educational as it reminds one of the true values of life. Well cast and beautifully acted.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 31: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 31: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 30. Posted by susiewrenlover

    on 13 Feb 2011 21:45

    Thankyou BBC for Larkrise to Candleford I have loved every series and It's a great shame it has to end. Really missed Robert Timmins pearls of wisdom this series and we will never know if Laura married Daniel and I feel the last episode was abit rushed to fit everything in but I will miss Thomas most of all. Brilliant Sunday evening light drama

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 30: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 30: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 29. Posted by AskME

    on 12 Feb 2011 22:30

    This series is frustrating ( so is the BBC not having a just 'general' blog for series and individual productions ) it had its very good points and has NOW built up a good sized regular viewership, who 'know' all the characters, like the best soap opera's try so hard to achieve. But it lets itself down, with drifting from fact and the wonderful Flora Thompson books. The scrubbed up cheery village 'peasants' going from stage right to stage left, are more redolent of pantomime. Than our real traditional 19thc country life. Also the terrible person drifting loudly into every scene with the 'mood music' piano playing, suddenly smaltzifying the acting...thats when I have to turn off

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 29: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 29: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 28. Posted by mikepc1935

    on 8 Feb 2011 22:25

    Turing Miss Margaret into a man was truely side splitting ( not to mention corset snapping!) Those Ms Pratts seem to get more and more naughty as as the series continues! What will they do next? Please, more transvestism in the countryside!

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 28: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 28: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 27. Posted by Maggpie99

    on 7 Feb 2011 11:51

    I enjoy Larkrise, and the costumes. My query is about the jewellery worn with the beautiful dresses. Who designs the gorgeous earrings worn by the Misses Pratt and Dorcas? Also, the exquisite necklaces which appeared on Morgana in the Merlin series. Please, could you do a piece on this subject?
    Oh, and Teksonic, Minnie had borrowed the Bicycle!

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 27: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 27: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 26. Posted by Duncan

    on 31 Jan 2011 08:13

    I have loved Lark Rise from the very first series, but scenes from last nights show are inconsistent with previous shows. We know from the very first series that Lark Rise is exactly 8 miles from Candleford Post Office, because it was chain measured by the blacksmith. Now, walking at 3 miles per hour it is going to take 2hrs 40mins there and the same back. So Minnie can't be at Lark Rise in the early morning and then say she has to get back to make breakfast, and other residents of Candleford cannot just turn up in Lark Rise or vice versa. A journey of 5 1/2 hours has to be planned. Come on BBC, this is sloppy.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 26: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 26: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 25. Posted by Muscateer

    on 24 Jan 2011 15:21

    Why are there no horses or other draught animals to be seen in the backgound! Surely they would have been ever present in towns and villages of those days. Horses were the lifeline on which everything depended.
    Anyway it is now quite dull and has run its course.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 25: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 25: 0
    Loading…
More comments

More Posts

Previous