Friday, September 30, 2011

Lark Rise to Candleford a Lovely English Little House on the Prairie

Brendan Coyle and Claudie Blakely. Fabulous actors who play Robert and Emma Timmins so invitingly -- the kind of married couple that makes marriage look attractive :)

Lark Rise to Candleford, is a tv series based on the book trilogy penned about her growing up years by Flora Thompson. (A word about the title: 'Lark Rise' is the name of the small hamlet our narrator is from and 'Candleford' the larger and more refined market town up the road to which she moves to take on work at the post office).

Always one to see parallels -- I can't help it -- I am reminded of the American tv show based loosely on Laura Ingalls Wilder's coming of age. The differences in setting are of course profound; comparing the American prairie frontier with the Oxfordshire countryside is not something I mean to do, though the time period, as the world shifts into a new age and our characters are a bit subject to it and a bit insulated from it, are quite similar.

The fresh optimistic approach and the strong compelling solid central families (the Ingalls and Timmins) are another parallel. As is the past remembered through the eyes of a smart, good and driven daughter. Lark Rise to Candleford is more subtle and nuanced than LHOTP and written to a more grown up audience, but both have similar pattern of story development each episode. There are challenges and sometimes sensitive topics, but things are almost always gently resolved by the end of the show. Often with strong moral themes prevailing and good carrying the day.

I was taken with Coyle and Blakely in episode 5 of season 1 when I saw it recently. Robert is a good pillar of the community hard working man with deep skill and passionate ability to work on better things. In this episode Timmins, while doing a routine masonry job for pay, gets distracted by the blank keystone above the door and begins to spend all his spare time carving it.

His wife is in turmoil over lack of money, not knowing what he's been spending his time on but knowing it is not bringing in wages. She is stressed about feeding their large family and she spreads her torment to him.

"Why did you marry me? Why does a woman choose a man for what he is!? His passions and strengths?  - and then one by one take these things away from him." Coyle's performance here is beautiful.

By he's not an ordinary man and she's not an ordinary woman ... because he can verbalize this frustration and manage to do it with love as well as distress and she can hear him, understand and relent. Claudie and Brendan give so much sympathy to their characters you feel their pain and love and see both their positions. Wonderful. And because this is Lark Rise, good things happen for them :) The hard work and attention to artistic quality pay off financially as well as intrinsically when the lord of the manor house sees his talent and gives Timmins work repairing sculptures. Our couple endures and rejoices together and the moral of "following your bliss" is a strong happy message.


  1. "Why did you marry me? Why does a woman choose a man for what he is!? His passions and strengths? - and then one by one take these things away from him."
    This scene springs to mind everytime I hear a woman in a relationship being totally unreasonable.

  2. I’m so glad I’m not the only one to see this!