Communism is a rising threat in Europe, measles epidemics are still common and deadly, the world is humming to news sent by telegraph, and harvests are still brought in by men with scythes. Set in rural Oxfordshire somewhere near the turn of the last century this four season show follows the life of the inhabitants of two villages, Lark Rise and Candleford. These villages might be best described as, ‘the middle of nowhere’ and ‘just left of the middle of nowhere’. Candleford is however a bustling market town with a telegraph in the post office and just a hint of the fashion of Paris in the ‘Stores’ across the street. When young Laura is sent to apprentice at the Post Office by her mother she is put in a prime position to watch, and journal about, how life changes for the people around her.
It is hard to overstate the charm of this show based on the semi-autobiographical books by Flora Thompson. It is the finest of BBC craftsmanship. It shows the wonder of discovery, the horror of pestilence, the terrifying and thrilling changes of the 20th century, all without traveling more than eight miles in any direction. That is in fact a very significant point in the show. Eight miles or less. Watching this show is like expecting a PBJ and finding a fully loaded BLT on artesian bread.
Go, fall in love with the characters, enjoy the English countryside, and do try not to notice too much when the show forgets to edit out the modern rain gutters on that one house in the background.