Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cranford Episode Four

After Mr Holbrooks death his inheritor has no desire to live in such a provincial area and his house and possessions are being sold at auction, and while Miss Pole is extremely disgusted with the thought the her dear cousins belongings will be pawed through by all and sundry, this does not prevent her from having a good nose around for bargains, ably assisted by Mrs Forrester. While poking around she finds a silhouette of a young Mr Holbrook and instead of bartering down from 1 and 6p, she imperiously hands him a shilling and and stalks off with the silhouette, leaving the poor assistant auctioneer faced with the prospect of letting her get away with it, or wrestling her to the ground prising the silhouette out of her hand. Sensibly he allows her to walk away quietly, perhaps realising that an altercation with Miss Pole would no doubt leave him the worse off.
Meanwhile Reverend Hutton is bidding on a rather lovely mirror, pleading the fact that a house needs as many mirrors as it has daughters. He probably has to make do with a tiny shaving mirror just to prevent arguments. In my experience, boys spend far longer in front of mirrors arranging their hair, but then I have many brothers each with a serious hair gel fixation.
Dr Morgan and Dr Harrison are also at the sale as Dr Harrison still owns no furniture and is entirely dependent on Mrs. Rose for this commodity. Dr Harrison attempts to assert himself by bidding on a small decorated table against Mrs Johnson of the General Stores and her amazing triangular face. He wins much to the amusement of the auctioneer who inquires if Dr Harrison has a lady in mind of the table, to which he hurriedly answers yes, causing Miss Pole to raise her eyebrows.
Miss Pole has generously given the silhouette of Mr Holbrook to someone who will genuinely cherish it, Miss Matty is wearing her widows cap and says that the silhouette is very like Mr Holbrook. This little scene also portrays a hitherto unknown facet of Miss Pole's character, her deep regard for Miss Matty and her good heartedness in gifting the one thing that Miss Matty would find so comforting.Dr Harrison brings home his table and is dismayed to find that it is a ladies sewing table from Mrs Rose. A slightly disconcerted Dr Harrison entreats Mrs Rose to use it if she likes to cover his embarrassment at his ignorance of ladies accoutrements. Mrs Rose is taken slightly aback but smiles nonetheless.
The railway is slowly encroaching further toward Cranford and Mr Carter along with his newly apprenticed clerk Harry Gregson have come to ask about the progress of the works and Mr Carter gives a letter for Lady Ludlow to Harry to take back to the house.
Unfortunately while reading it, a stray gust of wind rips it from his hand and it is blown away. Harry is faced with the full force of Lady Ludlows icy displeasure when he bravely confesses the loss of the note. However he loses any points he may have gained by then confessing that he has read it and lets her know the contents.
Lady Ludlow takes Mr Carter to task for allowing Harry Gregson to become his clerk and avers that Harry ought to be working in the fields, to which Mr Carter retorts that Harry ought to be in school and that Lady Ludlow has to change with the times.

In a softly candlelit room Miss Matty gently talks about first her father and his habit of getting his children to keep a journal, then Deborah's hopes of marrying an Archdeacon and then she asks Mary if she has ever felt a yearning to have a child of her own when seeing a mother with her child. Mary being only about twenty and having five younger siblings barely out of nappies has no desire yet for children. Matty without stating her own deep yearning, and disappointment, describes a dream she has of a her own child, a girl, who comes to her and her sense of sadness is palpable.
Lady Ludlow has brought a help meet for Mr Carter, Miss Galindo. Mr Carter is disconcerted at the introduction of a lady into his office, but Lady Ludlow merely purrs that Mr Carter ought to move with the times.
Dr Harrison has put on his best flouncy blue flowery cravat and has bravely gone to ask Reverend Hutton for his permission to court Sophy. It took me a short while to realise what was bugging me about this scene, until I realised it was the absence of bonnets and any Cranfordian females!
In an admirable effort and perhaps mindful of the fact that he gets three lines on average an episode, Alex Jennings takes the advantage he's been given and runs away with the scene by managing to run the gamut of emotions from forbidding, stern, conciliatory, wary, grief stricken (and tearful with it) and ending on a menacing note. Simon Woods isn't given much to do but react, wrinkle his brow and look slightly frightened at the end.
With Dr Harrison suitably terrified into behaving honourably, Reverend Hutton goes to find Sophy, who is arranging the worlds most droopy tulips in a vase and smirks at what a lovely couple they both make and shoos them out into the garden.

Sophy and Dr Harrison do make a lovely couple, and in Simon Woods' defence, if he had been a saturnine and romantic hero, he wouldn't have been a suitable match for Kimberly Nixon's Sophy, whose delicate beauty would have been swamped. This pair match!
Despite Reverend Hutton's tentative blessing on Sophy and Dr Harrison's pairing, Sophy says that her father is no doubt watching and Dr Harrison has to settle for a chaste curtsy from his sweetheart instead of a kiss when he takes his leave.
On the way home, Dr Harrison is accosted by Miss Tompkinson and dragged into have a cup of tea and is talked at incessantly, and the prospect of a £4ooo dowry when he marries Caroline Tompkinson is dangled in front of him. Dr Harrison politely sits and listens, slightly bewildered as to why he is being confided in.
Mr Carter is now over endowed with clerks having both Harry and Miss Galindo scribbling away for him. Miss Galindo is so industrious that she has to send Harry out of the room to fetch some more ink, which gives Mr Carter and Miss Galindo to snark good humouredly at each other.
Miss Galindo finally gets to show the sparkiness and sly wit that she embodies in the book and Emma Fielding gets more than one line instead of standing blank faced behind Lady Ludlow. Miss Galindo is quite enjoying her work and discomfiting poor Mr Carter who is finding it difficult working with a woman. She does say she has tried to fit in by perhaps inserting the word "zounds" at frequent intervals and sticking her pen behind her ear, but hasn't had the opportunity.

Mr Carter and Miss Galindo have a certain type of understated chemistry. Mr Carter's bluff facade is slightly softened by his proximity to her. Both are quiet and intelligent (and single) characters and is it easy to see that they are a good match.
Dr Marshland makes a visit to Cranford to inspect Mary's eyes and ascertains that she would benefit from glasses, little round wire rimmed ones!
Meanwhile Dr Harrison has turned up in his pony and trap to pick up Sophy from some May Day dance rehearsals and is disheartened that she is accompanied by her two younger giggling sisters, who have probably been told to stick to Sophy's side by their Dad and efficiently prevent Dr Harrison and Sophy's first kiss. They go for a walk in the most picturesque wood in the world liberally sprinkled with wild bluebells. Unwittingly they interrupt Martha and Jem's tryst at the base of a gnarly tree.
While Dr Harrison and Sophy are content to chastely stroll arm in arm through the wood, Martha has taken the permission to court Jem with both hands and they aren't doing much strolling! Jem bluffly states that this is an awful quiet part of the wood, perhaps a little falsely as the Hutton girls very nearly discovered them and are probably still in earshot, but Martha decides to make the most of it, besides there is still time before she has to get Miss Matty's tea on and Jem gladly makes the most of it.
Lady Ludlow has finally managed to place Harry in a position that she feels is more fitting: cleaning out the stables. As Mr Carter now has Miss Galindo, there is no longer a vacancy for Harry in that role and Lady Ludlow impressed upon Harry the luxury (for him at least) of a regular wage and Harry will be guaranteed a job for as long as he wishes if he takes up the more menial job over the impermanentclerkship with Mr Carter.

Harry mindful of his family's poverty and sense of duty to his Mother and younger siblings, glumly acquiesces and is deaf to Mr Carter's apologies.
The Town and Country bank has gone bankrupt and taken all of Miss Matty's investment with it, she is now penniless but for a small amount of savings. This means that she has to give Martha notice, which Martha resists tearfully. Miss Matty is deeply upset at her newly acquiredpoverty and when Martha states that she will work for free, Mary has to intercede and takes Martha to the kitchen to tell her that Miss Matty will not even be able to afford Martha's food, so bleak are her prospects.

Mrs Rose has been convinced by an excitable Miss Pole and Mrs Forrester that the cumulative gift giving that Dr Harrison has been engaged in: a chimney brush, a pair of purple, ladies gloves and the sewing table, is because Dr Harrison has romantic feelings for her. They then entice Mrs Rose into dying her hair, which transpires to be a dark and unsuitable black.
May Day arrives and Cranford has had its steps sanded into patterns and Jem Herne is released into the community in a large, energetic, leaf covered pot shaped thing as the Green Man (quite apt in the circumstances) and the festivities are full swing, Helen Hutton has been crowned the May Queen by Lady Ludlow and there is dancing and general merriment all round. But not for long.

Mrs Rose turns up in a purple frock to match her gloves and is flanked by a smirking pair of Miss Pole and Mrs Forrester, she is entreated to sit down next to Dr Morgan, displacing Dr Harrison, who takes this higher vantage point to stare at Sophy opposite.

Miss Matty and Mary have their tea disturbed by a Martha and Jem, who is still artfully covered in a few leaves and sprigs from his Green Man costume. Martha has decided that when she and Jem get married, they'll lodge with Miss Matty. This means that Martha can stay and look after Miss Matty and that Miss Matty can stay in her house. All this is news to Jem, who hadn't envisaged getting married quite so soon and is less than happy about this proposal, much to Martha's disgust, who flounces away unhappily, leaving Miss Matty and Mary a little discombobulated to their tea.
Caroline Tompkinson has noticed Dr Harrison's interest in Sophy and is perceptibly disappointed, so much so that she is seated on a bench and her sister goes to fetch a spare parasol and meets Reverend Hutton, to whom she confesses that her generously dowried sister is soon to expect a proposal from Dr Harrison. Reverend Hutton stalks away (perhaps to find a large stick) and Miss Tomkinson flutters back to Caroline.

Dr Harrison sees Sophy and just as they meet a furious Reverend Hutton intercedes and berates Dr Harrison for his mercenary behaviour.

A passing Miss Matty and Mary mindful of a "scene" beginning stop to listen.
Both the Misses Tompkinson aver that Dr Harrison had made romantic overtures to Caroline, citing the Valentines Day card as evidence that could be produced in a court of law. Dr Harrison refutes these claims, stating that he has a understanding with another. At which point Mrs Rose enters the fray.
Mrs Rose is entreated to speak up for her fiance, a relationship to which Dr Harrison find himself unaware. The rejection causes instant upset and she is led away sobbing by Miss Pole and Mrs Forrester, while Dr Morgan tells Dr Harrison to come and see him first thing in the morning.
Reverend Hutton reproaches Dr Harrison for failing his trust and breaking Sophy's heart and firmly leads a reluctant Sophy away.
The Tomkinson sisters float away and Miss Matty and Mary leave quietly leaving Dr Harrison alone. He sits humiliated, shocked, lovelorn, devastated and not a little confused in a marquee while he comes to terms with his now disgraced reputation and his by now Sophy-less future.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cranford Episode Three

There is mischief afoot in Cranford: Dr Harrison and Mrs Rose hear a noise and leave their (separate) beds to investigate. Dr Harrison is clad only in a nightshirt, (which gives Miss Caroline Tomkinson a heady burst of delight when imagining it later on in the episode) and has nothing to fend burglars off with except quite a miserly stub of a candle. A window is open and Mrs Rose breathily exclaims that someone has stolen the mutton! Yes, they're the worst type of thief, those that go around at night stealing meat.

It seems that Cranford is in the midst of a crime wave, while extinguishing the gas lights outside his shop, Mr Johnson is attacked by a stranger. Meanwhile, to make ends meet and feed his large, quite grubby, although extremely photogenic brood of children, Job Gregson (a heavily bearded Dean Lennox Kelly) takes his son Harry out to poach pheasants from the Hanbury Estate. Harry is reticent, but does as his father asks.
Miss Pole is entreated to buy clothes pegs from her door by a decrepit gypsy lady, who offends her by assuming she's the servant and asking to see the lady of the house. This unsettles Miss Pole who, convinced she'll be murdered in her bed, gathers all her silver plate and other valuables and bundles them up and seeks refuge first with Mrs Jamieson, whose butler takes pot shots out of his window at them and then with Miss Matty, whom she chastises for opening the door to her, claiming that she might have been anybody, adding for good measure, "with a cutlass!" Miss Poles lone gypsy has now become a band of evil men, one of whom "has a hump!". As ever Imelda Staunton is fabulous, her exclamations could be histrionic and over the top, but she judges them exactly right and gives Miss Pole the correct amount of hysterical exuberance without tipping over into pantomime.

Miss Matty generously allows Miss Pole to stay the night in Mary's bed, while Mary will share hers that night. This gives Mary the opportunity to observe Miss Matty's night time routine, which consists of rolling a small ball under her bed to ensure that there are no rogue men hiding under there. Mr Johnson mistakenly fingers Job Gregson for the attack on him and Job is arrested and placed in the town prison, which is a single cell marooned in the middle of the town green with the warder sitting outside balancing his cudgel on his knee. Harry visits his Dad to give him his meal and beseeches his father to tell the truth. If convicted of the attack on Mr. Johnson, Job is facing the prison ship and exile to Australia. But Job, in an admirable effort to keep his son from jail refuses to tell the truth for fear of Harry being convicted of poaching.

Harry in desperation confesses all to Mr. Carter, who is icily angry and sends Harry home. Nevertheless, Mr Carter asks for Lady Ludlow's influence in getting Job released as he is not guilty for anything other than poaching. Lady Ludlow refuses and seems determined not to get involved when learning that the Gregson family are not her tenants and therefore not her responsibility.Dr Jack Marshland (Joseph McFadden) comes to visit his friend Dr Harrison for Christmas. Jack is a charismatic and mischievous fellow and is delighted that he'll get a chance to spend Christmas Eve in the company of ladies. What he doesn't know is that Cranford ladies are a breed apart and would eat him for breakfast given half a chance.

Once at the party and sandwiched between the Tomkinson sisters he realised that his earlier exuberance was unwarranted and realises why Dr Harrison was less than over enthusiastic about attending.
Despite the dismal prospect of spending a long winters evening playing Whist, Jack perks up when he catches sight of Mary and entertains her with scurrilous stories about his and Frank Harrison's student days, somebody put a dog in the others bed. Mary thankfully thinks it is hilarious and there is a genuine spark between her and Jack, something that was missing between her and Dr Harrison.Lady Ludlow has been to see the abject poverty that the Gregsons lived in and has had a change of heart. She summons Lord Maulver (a criminally underused Greg Wise) to inform him that the charge of attacking Mr Johnson be dropped and that herself will pay the fine for the lesser charge of poaching. Lord Maulver isn't happy, but acquiesces and Job returns home free.
It is now February, and Jack Marshland is with Dr Harrison when they meet the Hutton sisters leaving the store. He sees that Frank is taken with Sophy and is enchanted by the younger sister too, so Jack decides to send a Valentine to each of the younger girls. Also in a fit of mischief and devilry, he also sends one to Caroline Tomkinson, almost definitely expecting her to believe it's from Dr Harrison. And it seems that doctor's handwriting has always been awful, at least nowadays we don't have to put up with blotches and spatters of ink as well.

Martha has received a Valentines Day card too, from Jem and she props it up next to the bowl of dirt she got at Christmas, which has bloomed into a fine crop of crocuses. Miss Matty sees it and is shocked that Martha has gotten a "follower". Such a thing horrifies Miss Matty and a tearful Martha resolves to tell Jem that she can't go against her mistresses orders and that she can't see him again.
The postman has been to the Hutton household and Lizzie and Helen are delighted to have received a card each from a mystery admirer, Sophy is handed a box inside which is a posy of snowdrops from Dr Harrison. She looks very pleased and her father asks if she'd like to invite him around to which she happily agrees.
Dr Harrison arrives to eat pancakes and to the admiration of younger Hutton girls manages eight. Pancakes obviously taste better when the object of your affection is cooking them.

Alas when he gets home Dr Harrison, so stuffed already with pancakes, is presented with another pile made by the fair hands of Mrs Rose. He looks slightly sick, but the well bred boy that he is, politely thanks Mrs Rose and sits down to his ordeal.
Matty, Mary and Miss Pole are invited to Mr Holbrooks house for dinner for their own culinary ordeal. They are given a two pronged fork each and a pile of peas. Miss Matty spikes them on a prong and eats them one by one, Miss Pole ignores them with disdain and Mr Holbrook balances a teetering pile on his knife and gulps them down. To prevent any embarrassment Mary does the same. Then Mr Holbrook spends the rest of the evening spouting poetry at full volume at the ladies, despite this Miss Matty is delighted to be there, while Miss Pole complains of sitting in a draught.
Mr Holbrook comes to call on Miss Matty and brings, as was his wont when they were both younger, a small bunch of primroses. Mr Holbrook says that he is going to Paris and that by the time he returns that he hopes that Miss Matty will have made her mind up about their relationship. He mentions that they are not in the habit of making speedy decisions and at their time of life why should they break the habit of a lifetime.
Miss Matty is pressing the primroses (and we catch sight of her first bunch from Mr Holbrook kept all these years) and using the heavy family bible to do so, when Mary catches sight of another name in the family bible beneath Deborah and Matty's and asks: who is Peter.

Miss Matty tells Mary that Peter was a young rogue and after a practical joke in which he had dressed as Deborah and pretended to have had a baby out of wedlock, he had run away. The last that they had heard from him was from India when he had promised to send some Indian muslin for a dress for Matty. The muslin never arrived and Peter is presumed long since dead.Mr Holbrook returns from France, but he is mortally ill. Miss Pole fetches Miss Matty and they both go to visit Mr Holbrook. Miss Pole shows her sensitive side and allows Miss Matty to sit with Mr Holbrook and say goodbye. The programme doesn't flinch from the deaths of its characters and does so particularly un-melodramatically, Mr Holbrook is allowed to expire in a dignified and compassionate way and his death is all the more affecting for it.

Miss Matty has been deeply affected by Mr Holbrook's death, coming as it does so soon on the heels of Deborah's. She comes to a decision, calling Martha, she kindly and carefully states that she "does not want to grieve any young hearts" and allows Martha to take a follower. Martha jubilantly runs to find Jem to tell him the good news. Jem is quite pleased, but doesn't feel that their celebration is quite appropriate right now seeing as he's currently ferrying around Mr. Holbrooks coffin.
Miss Matty goes to Miss Galindo's to get a new cap made, she asks for one like Mrs Forresters, Miss Galindo states that Mrs Forrester wears a widows cap and Miss Matty gently says yes.Another fantastic episode, Cranford is turning out to be a jewel in the BBC's crown. I don't think anyone can deny the fantastic performances all round, from Judi Dench, from whom a solid turn is expected, to the wonderful Lisa Dillon, who gives Mary Smith a quietly sparky personality, imbuing Mary with generosity, good humour and vivacity without being too showy. I'll look out for her in future.

I expected more from Michael Gambon, but was disappointed in the brevity of his part, although it did bring into sharp relief the depth of emotion that Matty felt for him.

One criticism is that the show has no overarching storyline, so without all the sterling performances, it would be in danger of falling a bit flat. Nevertheless it is incredibly enjoyable and one of the best shows I've seen all year, I'm going to miss it when it over!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cranford Episode Two

Dr Harrison wakes late for Church and hurries there, only to find the service in full swing and a rousing hymn being sung. Dr. Harrison is trying to make a good impression, especially on Sophy and her father and is extremely put out when he finds that he's late.

Neither the congregation nor the rector himself are best pleased with the late arrival. For his tardiness, Dr. Harrison gets the collection plate shoved in his face and a disapproving look from Miss Pole. But every cloud has a silver lining and Sophy smiles at him and little Walter gives a friendly wave.

On the way home from church the Jenkyns and Mary are invited to dinner at Captain Brown's house as they have a guest, a softly spoken Scot, Major Gordon (Alistair Petrie). It transpires that he had asked Jessie to marry him when they were both younger, but she had declined due to her sisters poor health. Nevertheless, Major Gordon and Jessie sing, a little tunelessly, but at least they both finish at the same time. It is apparent to all the ladies that Major Gordon still has huge affection and love for Jessie, unfortunately Captain Brown bumbles along not noticing any attraction at all between his daughter and guest.

Miss Caroline Tompkinson was overcome in the store, suffering giddiness and palpitations, which necessitates a visit from Dr Harrison who listens to Caroline's fast beating heart (but only when he's near) and doesn't notice that she fancies him rotten.

He doesn't diagnose anything that a short rest wouldn't solve and she and her sister are now under the delusion that he'd be a good match for her.

Miss Matty has bought a new carpet, but to prevent the colours bleaching away in the sun, she and Mary spend time sewing sheets of newspaper together to lay over the patches of carpet that are directly exposed. Jessie arrives clutching a posy of Anemones. Mary consults that book of secret love flower codes (or something like it) and it appears that Anemones signify "love ever steadfast". This delights Jessie and the ladies, because the normally slightly ragged around the edges looking Jessie has suddenly blossomed with happiness and looks transformed.

Harry's Father Job is nowhere to be found and his Mother is sick after having had her baby, and the rest of the children need to be fed. Harry bribes his younger brother (who "doesn't like touching udders") with the promise of a bun of his very own on Friday if he'll milk Mrs. Forrester's beloved cow and take the milk back to his Mother and the baby while he goes to find food on the Hanbury estate.

Harry's nameless brother completes his task, but in his haste to get the milk back home, while taking a few surreptitious gulps himself, he forgets to fasten the gate behind him.

The following morning, Mrs Forrester arrives to milk the cow and to her shock and horror, finds it missing. She jogs into town at quite a fair lick for a lady of her age and rallies help.
Major Gordon and Captain Brown search the fields looking for Bessie the cow and are informed that shouting "Bessie Dearest" is more likely to find the cow than simply Bessie. Swallowing their pride and their dignity, both men screech the offending phrase lustily.

Eventually the poor bovine creature is found, to Mrs. Forrester's dismay, wallowing in a pit of lime and mooing plaintively.

Major Gordon and Jessie return to the village for help in pulling Bessie from her limey pit of doom. Miss Matty remarks that Major Gordon has his arm around Jessie, to which Miss Deborah replies, "that is exactly where it ought to be"!

En route Jessie and Major Gordon stop in a leafy glade and Major Gordon proposes to the delighted Jessie, but due to the fact that he is shortly to leave to go to India, he wants to be married sooner rather than later. As Jessie is still in mourning for her sister and is dismayed that she would have to leave her father, she mournfully declines and both she and Major Gordon are quietly devastated.

As Mrs. Forrester's cow sustained a large amount of hair loss and no doubt chemical burns from the lime, Captain Brown suggests that the best course of action would be to put the cow down. This causes great consternation to Mrs. Forrester, so the second best solution is to dress the cow in flannel pyjamas, to much comedic effect and to the delight of Cranford's children, who wonder how the cow is milked. Answer: it has a flap at the bottom!

The day of Lady Ludlow's garden party arrives and all the ladies assemble in their finery, on the common, to attend. Mary is forced to travel with her quite young, very tiresome and permanently pregnant step-mother (Finty Williams) and is entreated to hold the baby, as she will look so much better with a baby's face next to hers. Mary looks royally pissed off and that being jammed in next to Miss Pole would be far more preferable.
The Hutton sisters are also waiting to on the common to attend, but Sophy is fretting that Walter is a bit hoarse and is on the brink of staying at home to look after him, when she catches sight of Dr Harrison and decides that Walter isn't quite so ill after all.

When Dr Harrison rides up to say hello, he also offers Walter a ride on his horse to the Garden Party, which Sophy allows and Walter clambers up next to Dr Harrison eagerly.The Garden party is in full swing, with Ladies eating Ice Cream, children racing around and Egg and Spoon races to be organised. Miss Matty, after having dispensed some eggs and set the children off on the Egg and Spoon race (which Walter wins!), she is distracted by a distinguished gentleman (a subdued Michael Gambon), who gently shakes her by the hand and then departs, leaving Miss Matty shaken and in a strangely quiet mood that Miss Deborah comments on. Miss Matty doesn't mention the interlude between her and Mr. Holbrook and instead blames her quietness on the "superfluity of dainties" to which she is not accustomed.

Mrs Forrester and Miss Pole have news, they fly across the grass, causing people to look up in fright at the scary sight of two middle aged ladies sprinting across the lawn. Unfortunately while Miss Pole is getting her breath, the slower Mrs Forrester arrives and blurts out the juicy gossip they have just overheard: the railway is coming to Cranford! Miss Pole is annoyed, she'd been building up to that!
A delegation of Amazons search out Captain Brown trying to have a quiet cup of tea and demand to know the truth of the matter. Captain Brown proudly affirms that the railway is to come and that he is to be the manager for the project. The ladies are aghast at the news and his betrayal. It's a wonder that the man doesn't instantly expire with the looks of horror, scorn and disgust being scowled his way.

Gently, Jessie berates Captain Brown about not telling her and when he states that his new job will take him away from town and she will be alone. Jessie realises that this means that her rejection of Major Gordon was a mistake and when she hesitantly claims that she could have been married, the self absorbed Captain Brown dismisses the idea and settles back down to his tea.

Miss Matty and Miss Deborah reach home and Deborah is fuming at the news, claiming that it will bring all manner of undesirables, rather nastily singling out "the Irish" for her particular ire. The anger that she feels has brought on a headache and she goes upstairs, getting a little giddy towards the top and goes into her room.
Mary, Martha and Miss Matty hear a loud thud from Deborah's room and Mary and Martha race up the stairs and find that Miss Deborah has collapsed. Mary keeps calm and tells Miss Matty to fetch the doctor.

Dr Harrison has been called to Reverend Huttons house as Walter is ill. His earlier hoarseness has developed into very nasty bout of Croup. Reverend Hutton is silently devastated and Sophy is distraught at the thought that she could have prevented Walter's illness by staying home instead of going to the Garden Party.

Meanwhile at the Jenkyns household, Dr. Morgan gently tells Miss Matty that Miss Deborah is dead. Miss Matty is utterly shocked and saddened. Judi Dench communicates the utter devastation she feels in a simple silent scene and the audience is also completely saddened by the loss of Miss Deborah. The series will be poorer for Eileen Atkins departure.There is no better news at Reverend Huttons, despite Sophy's, Dr. Harrison's and Dr Morgan's ministrations, as well as Reverend Huttons most fervent prayers, little adorable Walter dies. The doctors leave as the family say good bye to him. Kimberly Nixon was coming across as a bit of a shallow actress, with nothing to do but fuss over Walter and simper at Dr Harrison until now, but her desolation and sorrow at Walters death convinces otherwise.
Miss Matty sits in the parlour gazing at the seat her sister used to rule the Cranford court from as if, were she to gaze long enough, that Miss Deborah would resume her throne and continue to reign once more.

Miss Matty tells Mary that Deborah disapproved of people called her Matty and much rather preferred Matilda and she laments that no one will call her Matilda again.
Mary leaves Miss Matilda to her thoughts and Miss Matty, remains in her chair overwhelmed by grief.

Another fine episode, with the early comedy being leavened by tragedy. Miss Deborah was a formidable character given real depth and affection by Eileen Atkins and will be sorely missed.