Monday, September 5, 2011

Bright Lights, Big City

Lark Rise to Candleford ran for four hugely popular series from 2008 to 2011 but am I the only one that could never bring himself to fully embrace Bill Gallagher's adaptation of Flora Thompson's late-nineteenth century memoir? More Heartbeat than Cranford, it soon became apparent when it first appeared on our screens that this was period drama at its least innovative and most nostalgic. So it proved as the worst thing to befall the residents of Lark Rise and Candleford on any given episode was that the postman's bicycle would sometimes suffer a puncture before he finished his rounds. Someone usually found a pump and order was restored. The still above was typical of the Lark Rise philosophy that was touched on most weeks: well, we are poor lass but at least we've got each other! The truth is that the production values were so lavish that nobody ever looked all that poor. Still, Lark Rise seemed to tick many people's boxes when it came to Sunday-evening, comfort-food television.

Gallagher has moved on to pastures new and is currently adapting the Emile Zola novel Au Bonheur des Dames as The Ladies' Paradise for television. It tells the story of Denise, a girl from the sticks who, made homeless by the death of her father and with nothing to live on but her wits, moves to a bustling northern city and finds herself a job working in the city's glittering new department store. Denise is excited by her glamorous new life as society is waking up to the joys and temptations of shopping. Behind the dazzling facade of the store, however, she finds a world of intrigues, affairs and shopfloor power struggles. Although set during the same period as Lark Rise and following the same multi-character structure, the BBC announced the series, filming next summer for transmission in early 2013, as being "sexy" and "post-watershed." This seems to be somewhat of a departure for Gallagher but what would Miss Lane say?

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