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24 September 2014
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Lark Rise To Candleford 
Lark Rise To Candleford: Sir Timothy Midwinter (Ben Miles)

Lark Rise To Candleford

Ben Miles plays Sir Timothy Midwinter

Sir Timothy is the squire, the principal landowner in the area and justice of the peace.


Sir Timothy and Dorcas were childhood friends and have remained close ever since.


He is well loved by all who encounter him because, although firm, he is fair in his dealings with his tenants, and those brought before him in his role as justice of the peace.


He also has a great sense of fun and loves to tease. Dorcas brings out this side of his character more than anyone.


"My character is the squire of the manor," explains Ben. "His family have been there for hundreds of years and they own a lot of land. The village of Lark Rise and the town of Candleford have to pay him rent because he's their landlord.


"He's very typical of his class and of his time, a man who has a lot of duty to his title and family. He enjoys being a squire but does find some elements uncomfortable, for example, the way people are treated. He greatly admires the local people, especially the people in the village of Lark Rise, and has their best interests at heart.


"As the local magistrate, Sir Timothy sees his fair share of issues and difficulties that people had to face in these communities. There is one episode that's all about debt and another that's about domestic abuse. In many ways it's all still relevant today even though it was written in the 19th Century."


Ben describes his character as "essentially good but he's flawed in other ways."


"His first love was Dorcas, the post mistress, but that was doomed from the start because of their different social status. I think he lost his heart to her when he was young, as did she, a lot of the story is about how they now relate to each other.


"Their characters get on very well but occasionally their emotions flair up and it gets difficult for them. There is never one big heart-to-heart because that's not really the kind of people they are. He is also married now and he's under pressure to produce an heir.


"There are times of crisis when Sir Timothy will call on Dorcas to help out and there are times when they get close but they can never act on it."


Ben describes working with Julia Sawalha who plays post mistress Dorcas: "It was great, wonderful. She handles it all so well and she was in all the time! For me it's like a part-time job, only three days a week. She's fantastic to work with. I hadn't read the books before taking on the role, but me and Julia would talk about our characters' histories a lot and that helped."


Sir Timothy is married to the very beautiful Lady Adelaide, who is regarded as a much more suitable match to somebody of Sir Timothy's standing.


"He's very fond of her and I think he loves her but they are completely different people. He loves the country whereas she loves the town; he cares about his tenants, his people, whereas she doesn't really relate to them. She's never been around people like this in her life before. It's hard for her but she does come good and learns to care about people."


Lady Adelaide is desperate to have a child which causes a strain and tension in their relationship. They gradually get to know each other as the show evolves.


In terms of preparing for the role: "I had to stay on a horse which was quite fun! I don't really ride at all but my wife, who does, told me you just have to sit up straight. I love the horses in the show."


Likewise getting dressed in costume everyday: "It was the same costume designer as The Forsyte Saga actually. I had to wear high collars, hats, riding boots ... loads of looks, my character is quite dapper! But I'm only just getting to grips with the riding boots."


Viewers will be able to see Ben take hold of events in episode one, in his first big storyline.


"It's a classic example of my character getting involved and his role in the two communities," says Ben. "There's a dispute about the distance between Lark Rise and Candleford, as a result of a terrible scenario where one of the Lark Rise residents doesn't hear about her brother's death because she can't afford to pay to receive the telegram.


"Sir Timothy steps in and says: 'Let's measure it and see exactly how far it is.' So we spent one entire Sunday walking from the town to the village and it turns out to be just under so the residents of Lark Rise don't have to pay for telegrams in the future. Sir Timothy saved the day!"


In terms of what audiences will get from Lark Rise To Candleford, Ben adds:


"It will be lovely to immerse yourself in another time. It's about values, humanity and community. Whenever I read the episodes I think it's great how people can look after each other; if only that could happen more now.


"It's a great antidote to many elements of our society today – crimes, guns, death. It represents a very positive era in terms of community and also shows how much we've changed since then, which isn't very long ago – only about 120 years and yet the world was completely different. It runs a lot deeper than some cynics might think."



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