Kimberley Nixon plays Miss Sophy Hutton
Kimberley Nixon says she learned a lot from working with Dame Judi Dench on Cranford, including how to wile away the time when bad weather delays filming on location.
"We'd have to sit under a little tent waiting for it to stop raining, and Judi has so many games in her bag of tricks," says the 20-year-old, who trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
"She taught us one where you take a piece of newspaper and you're given a shape, such as a car, and rip away to make that shape. Eileen Atkins is really bad at it – if we said to make a car she would make a boat!"
Kimberley says: "A lot of my background is in theatre, so when you're on location and the wind is really blowing, it's raining and you've got mud all over you, it really keeps you on your toes."
Actress and character are the same age, but Sophy's adolescence was cruelly curtailed by the death of her mother six years earlier.
"She's basically brought up her three younger siblings and is more or less the mistress of the house," explains Kimberley.
"Sophy is intelligent and bright, and I think people like her because she is very genuine. She doesn't entirely wear her heart on her sleeve, but she's a very honest person with a lot of responsibility on her shoulders.
"When Dr Harrison arrives, he is someone she can talk to about things other than housework, children or dresses. From their first meeting, she feels an affinity with him, but their relationship is very up and down.
"Just when you think it is going in a certain direction, something comes along and swings it off on another course. It's very exciting for the audience, but at times I don't think poor Sophy can take much more."
Perhaps it's just as well that Kimberley's next project – the movie Wild Child, starring among others Natasha Richardson and Aidan Quinn, and due for release in 2008 – is a slightly more light-hearted affair.
"I'm playing a schoolgirl, and it's all girly mischief, which is really fun," she says. "To flip between the two things is really great for me."