Lark Rise To Candleford
Julia Sawalha plays Dorcas Lane
Dorcas runs Candleford's Post Office and owns the town's forge. Her father was a journeyman, the son of a master-smith. His travels came to an end when he stopped off to work at the Candleford forge and met the blacksmith's daughter. He settled down, married and Dorcas Lane was born soon afterwards.
While Dorcas was still a young woman, her father was taken ill and during this time she ran the Post Office and forge. After her father died she took on the Post Office and forge permanently, much to the surprise of many, but since then even the most traditional of Candleford residents have got used to the idea.
"Dorcas is a single, independent, passionate, exotic type of character," says Julia Sawalha, "and quite passionate really. She turned down a marriage proposal from Sir Timothy when they were much younger and childhood friends.
"She felt she wasn't of his social class and thought it would never work. But that has left her with a deep longing for him and because she can't have him she involves herself in everybody else's affairs.
"People do come to her for advice and I think she gives good advice. She likes the Lark Risers as well and moves between both villages.
"She's really well-loved and a respected member of the community. Her shrewdness as a businesswoman and the high standards she expects from her staff are leavened by her warm heartedness, generosity, sense of humour, mischief, and her indulgent nature.
Dorcas's has been friends since childhood with the local squire, Sir Timothy Midwinter.
"My character keeps the community together," adds Julia. "People come to her for advice but she does meddle quite a bit in people's affairs but with the best will in the world. She has lots of weaknesses, cake, baths, a feather pillow...
"I think her biggest luxury has to be her fine dresses! She has a lot of clothes and she really goes to town with her clothes. But she's generous and shares everything that she has. Maybe the most extravagant thing she does is nearly running off with Delafield!
"I think it's great. Because she doesn't have a love interest she fills her life with other luxuries. She's quite ahead of her time.
"Her relationship with Laura is gorgeous. It's not a mother/daughter relationship, it's not sisters, it's more mentoring. In the later episodes she starts to see that Laura has a good head on her and could actually take a leaf out of Laura's book. She helps Laura and is training her up.
"I suppose it's because she doesn't have children and she never will have children, she's taken Laura under her wing a bit. Dorcas is also a cousin of Laura's mum so she needs to look after her and make sure that she's safe, warm and clothed, which was very much what you did in those communities in the late 1890s.
"I've enjoyed filming so much, all the scenes actually, but in particular my scenes with Laura. One of the perks of this job is the continuous stream of highly gifted actors. Not only the permanent cast but also the guest appearances that make you continually raise your game.
"I loved working with Stephen Campbell Moore who played my love interest ... he was a dish! His character was a dish! The character he plays is this strong, radical, intelligent, passionate, loyal man. It was fantastic. I have three love interests including Sir Timothy in the series. But it just shows you, no matter how often they come along, she can't let herself fall in love.
"My relationship with Sir Timothy and Lady Adelaide is one of respect. Sir Tim has had to marry out of duty and I accepted it and I want their marriage to be a success, explains Julia, However, I am a woman at the end of the day and there are times when jealousy rears its ugly head and I can't fight my feelings for Sir Timothy.
"Adelaide is very insecure about it all because she is continually seeing us going off riding together and we have a bond together that she'll never have. I try to convince myself that I should love and respect her because she is the lady of the manor. I try and convince everybody else, including Laura that they should love and respect her too.
"I hope audiences get a sense of contentment from the series. It's easy on the ear and on the eye," says Julia.
"They can sit down with a box of chocolates and a cup of tea and be utterly entertained and contented afterwards. I think it's one of those things you'll look forward to the next week. The sense of community is very important and I love the manners, that's what I really love about doing costume dramas."