Lark Rise To Candleford
Olivia Hallinan plays Laura Timmins
Laura works for Dorcas Lane at the Post Office in Candleford. She is 16 years old, the eldest child of Robert and Emma Timmins and has four siblings: Edmund, Ethel, Frank and baby Annie. Laura is her father's favourite and has inherited his yearning to learn more, see more, his impulsiveness and his outspokenness.
"Laura grew up in Lark Rise, but her mother always knew she didn't really belong there, she can read and loves books and her mother sees there's something more she can do with her life. So she arranges a position for Laura with her cousin Dorcas at the Post Office," says Olivia Hallinan, who plays Laura.
"When she's sent off to Candleford to work with Dorcas, it's quite a struggle for her to begin with," adds Laura. "But she really looks up to and admires Dorcas and thinks, I can do this and really make something of myself.
"My character is very determined but at the same time very loyal to her family and in that way acts as a link between the two communities of Lark Rise and Candleford. She's stuck in the middle for a while. It's hard for her to adapt to this completely new life as she has never experienced anything like it before.
"I think people had to grow up so much quicker back then; you had to support your family and that was that! It was either go into service or in Laura's case this amazing opportunity comes up which a lot of girls in Lark Rise wouldn't have got.
"I hadn't read the books before, but as soon as I was offered the part I did and thought they were magical, so vivid and detailed. which was great to have for background and it was so useful to get that insight into growing up in a small hamlet and all of her struggles.
"Laura is definitely overwhelmed at the opportunity to work in the Post Office. In episode one you'll see, it's very scary. She says, 'I've never even stepped inside the Post Office'. She's only been to Candleford once with her family.
"It was very rare for her to visit the town so everything's new to her: the shops, the people, the house, the food, everything! As the series progresses you really see her grow in confidence and settle in. It's quite a gradual process but that was nice for me to play around with.
"When Laura first starts work, she's in awe of Dorcas, because she's the post mistress. She looks at her and thinks that she's managed to play a major part in Candleford; she's running the Post Office which was very rare for a woman in that period, she's an independent woman and Laura really looks up to her and watches her and picks up on everything she says and absorbs a lot of information.
"In her move to Candleford Laura has to build new friendships and a surrogate family around her. People instinctively warm to her and trust her with their confidences. She in turn has a sharp pairs of eyes and ears for what's going on around her – not much escapes Laura."
Olivia adds: "I spend a lot of time with Thomas and Matthew and along with Dorcas they become my new family. Zillah isn't very nice to Laura at first and it takes her a while to realise that she doesn't mean it and is like that with everyone. That relationship develops and I loved working with Liz Smith, I've admired her for so long and she constantly has me in fits of laughter.
"Then, of course, there is the love interest, Philip; the dashing man who captures her heart. Sir Tim and Lady Adelaide are at the other end of the spectrum to Laura and she's terrified of them to begin with. She's always thought of people like that but never met anyone of that status so it's interesting to see how that develops.
"What I liked most about Laura is her independence and her loyalty towards her family. She's young and quite naïve but I like the fact she stands up for herself and that she has the Timmins streak of defiance. She's not rude with it but she won't stand for any ... if someone's rude to her she'll politely answer back, she's quite cheeky. I like her determination.
"I really enjoyed filming the scenes with my Lark Rise family, the little kids, my mum and dad and I like the scenes with Dorcas, I think that relationship is really interesting in the way it changes and develops. I think towards the end of the filming I've begun to enjoy it even more because we've grown with the characters. It's great to be out in the countryside.
"There are a few concerts in the programme and there are a few moments when Lark Rise and Candleford meet, which brings the whole cast together, which must be a nightmare for the costume ladies but great for us!
"I hope viewers come away seeing how different life was and yet quite similar. There's the same kind of problems, conflicts and personalities. All the characters have such different personalities and they deal with things together and bond and deal with issues.
"It's a different world. The sets are amazing and I think viewers, hopefully will get absorbed into this world. When you read the books you think, this is a community in a time that's been forgotten about. I hope the show will bring it back to life."