All five episodes, plus the two-part 2009 Christmas special, of the BBC's lavish costume drama based on three novels by Elizabeth Gaskell. The series tells the story of the small absurdities and major tragedies in the lives of the people of Cranford, as they are besieged by forces that they can't withstand. Cranford in the 1840s is a small northern English town on the cusp of change. Things are on the move. The railway is pushing its way relentlessly towards the town from Manchester, bringing fears of migrant workers and the breakdown of law and order, and the arrival of handsome new doctor, Frank Harrison (Simon Woods), from London causes a stir; not only because of his revolutionary medical methods, but also because of the effect he has on many of the ladies' hearts in the town. Judi Dench plays Miss Matty Jenkyns, whose hopes and rebellious spirit were crushed when, as a young woman, she was forced to give up Mr Holbrook (Michael Gambon), the man she loved.