Merry Wives Star Judi Dench to Head BBC Show "Cranford Chronicles"

News   Merry Wives Star Judi Dench to Head BBC Show "Cranford Chronicles"
Current Academy Award nominee Judi Dench — who also now headlines the Royal Shakespeare Company's Merry Wives - The Musical — will star in "Cranford Chronicles," an upcoming BBC series.
Dame Judi Dench
Dame Judi Dench Photo by Aubrey Reuben

A five-part BBC One serial, "Cranford Chronicles" was created by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin based on the three novels by Elizabeth Gaskell. BBC Drama Production and WGBH will produce in association with Chestermead Ltd. "Cranford Chronicles" will begin filming this April in the Cotswolds and London.

Set in 1842 in "a small rural Cheshire town on the cusp of great changes," the drama "captures the small absurdities and major tragedies in the lives of the people of Cranford, as they are besieged by forces they cannot hope to withstand," reads a BBC release. "Some people find romance and opportunities, while others fear the breakdown of social order. Who will embrace the changes on offer by becoming modern?"

Dame Dench will play the role of Miss Matty Jenkyns, "whose hopes and lively spirit were crushed when she was forced as a young woman to give up the man she loved and to live afterwards in the shadow of her elder sister, Deborah, the arbiter of correctness in Cranford." Further casting is yet to be announced.

"I am so excited to be doing 'Cranford Chronicles.' A summer of fun to look forward to!," said Dench in the announcement.

The actress currently appears opposite Simon Callow at the RSC through Feb. 10. She was just nominated for an Oscar for her turn in the film "Notes on a Scandal." The actress — seen previously at the RSC in All's Well That Ends Well and known for her film turns as M in the James Bond films — earned an Oscar in 1998 for her turn in "Shakespeare in Love."

"The logistics of mounting such a production have inevitably taken a while to pull together," said BBC Fiction controller Jane Tranter, "but the best things are well worth waiting for, and we are all very excited at the prospect of such a piece, and of welcoming Judi Dench back to the BBC."

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