Lark Rise To Candleford – a ten-part adaptation starts Sunday 13 January 2008, 7.40pm, BBC One
Julia Sawalha, Olivia Hallinan, Dawn French, Brendan Coyle, Olivia Grant, Mark Heap, Ben Miles and Liz Smith star in a ten-part adaptation of Flora Thompson's magical memoir of her Oxfordshire childhood for BBC One, Lark Rise To Candleford, a love letter to a vanished corner of rural England and a heart-warming drama series teeming with wit, wisdom and romance.
Set in the small hamlet of Lark Rise and the wealthier neighbouring market town, Candleford, at the end of the 19th Century, the series chronicles the daily lives of farm workers, craftsmen and gentry, observing characters in loving, boisterous and competing communities of families, rivals, friends and neighbours.
This world is seen through the eyes of a teenage girl, Laura Timmins (Olivia Hallinan – Sugar Rush, Torchwood), as she leaves Lark Rise to start a new life under the wing of her cousin, the independent and effervescent Dorcas Lane (Julia Sawalha – Hornblower, Pride And Prejudice), who is Post Mistress at the local Post Office in Candleford.
Through them, viewers experience the force of friendship as they see each other through the best and worst of times. Lark Rise To Candleford is warm, funny, poignant, occasionally tragic but overall a celebration of the spirit of community.
Jane Tranter, Controller of BBC Fiction, says: "Bill Gallagher has created a strong, funny and heart-warming drama series from Flora Thompson's novel.
"His drama naturally displays the enduring beauty of the English countryside but, more than that, it displays the enduring power of human landscape: the comedy, the whimsy, the moments of pain and heartbreak, and the collective and courageous force of family, friends and neighbours that see our characters through the best and worst of times.
"The talent and strength of the assembled cast and production team pay tribute to the excellence of Bill's vision and scripts."
Kate Harwood, Head of Series and Serials, adds: "Lark Rise To Candleford, Flora Thompson's touching and personal memoir of her North Oxfordshire youth, was originally developed by BBC Drama Production as a conventional drama serial. Eventually, the idea came to find a different take on the book and to develop it as a longer running pre-watershed, returnable drama series.
"Happily the material responded wonderfully to this; as writer Bill Gallagher says, the books are crammed so full of stories that you can just shake the pages and another one falls out. But Flora Thompson's stories are very particular; they are anecdotal and personal and therefore need a dramatist's imagination and narrative skills to take them from a beautifully evoked idea and to turn them into a fully fledged, hour-long drama.
"For example, the opening story of the series, which tells of a dispute between the two communities that has to be resolved using some delicate and clever thinking, is one that is contained in no more than a few sentences in the book. Bill has taken that idea and turned it into a richly and touching narrative through which we launch Laura on her journey to Candleford and into her adult life."
Lark Rise To Candleford is produced by BBC Drama Production and written by Bill Gallagher (Conviction, Out Of The Blue, Wokenwell).
The producer is Grainne Marmion (The State Within) and the executive producers are Sue Hogg and Bill Gallagher.
Lark Rise To Candleford was written by Flora Thompson and first published in 1945.
Flora was born in 1876 at Juniper Hill in Oxfordshire, and lived in a small hamlet until she took up work in a nearby town, assisting at the Post Office, at the age of 14.