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Picture-perfect guest appearances by Dawn French (The Vicar of Dibley), Claudia Blakley (State of Play) and Brendan Coyle (Prime Suspect) complement the acclaimed performances of young star Olivia Hallinan (Torchwood) and Julia Sawalha (Cranford) in the second season of this rich, funny and heartwarming series. Someone's upsetting the residents of charming 188s Oxfordshire: a dashing-and overbearing-Londoner, James Dowland (Jason Merrells, A Touch of Frost), who wishes to bring prosperity to Candleford..
Following critical acclaim, the residents of Lark Rise and Candleford return to the screen in this warm-hearted adaptation of Flora Thompson's novels. This series sees the arrival of a dashing and elegant stranger in Candleford. Rich, enterprising, worldly and without a wife, James Dowling is a successful businessman with a string of London hotels, and has come to transform Candleford and bring it new prosperity. But not everyone welcomes his entrepreneurial qualities and it isn't long before he is sparring with the spirited, yet suddenly unusually flustered, Dorcas and aggravating the pride of the male Lark Risers with his superior business acumen and somewhat overbearing manner..
The series opens with a wonderfully captivating seasonal tale that unites the past and the present. When Dorcas and Emma each want to give Laura the same gift for Christmas, an old family wound is opened up and Laura finds herself torn between two mothers. As the inhabitants of Lark Rise and Candleford prepare for the festivities, loyalties are tested and, amid the gift-giving and carol singing, tensions are building. However, the arrival of a ragged, bare-footed young woman, who goes by the name of Cinderella Doe (Sheridan Smith Two Pints Of Lager, Love Soup, Jonathan Creek: The Grinning Man), introduces a note of Christmas mystery.
A handsome stranger rides into Candleford with a look of determination about him. Along his way, he chances upon young Edmund Timmins and presents him with a silver threepence before heading on his way. His name is James Dowland. Dowland arrives in Candleford and catches the eye of several of the residents. However, he only has eyes for Dorcas Lane. For the Pratt sisters, he is their new hero who will put Candleford on the map with the opening of a new hotel. Not everyone is so keen on the arrival of James Dowland. Robert Timmins is suspicious of his motives and is less-than-accepting of his financial help when he offers to take the Lark Rise tenants under his wing. Emma Timmins and the other Lark Rise tenants are, however, more-than- happy to welcome James into their homes. The cantankerous landlad,y Mrs Herring (Maggie Steed Jam & Jerusalem, Pie in the Sky, Born and Bred), continues to add to the strains of the Lark Rise residents with her refusal to upkeep their homes. Dorcas and James take it upon themselves to help, and come up with a plan to show Mrs Herring the error of her ways. Meanwhile, Dorcass patience is tried with the arrival of a new maid, Minnie, who can do no right. She means well, but with her troubled past struggles to contain her excitement, testing Dorcas and those around her to the end.
Battling with her emotions for new arrival James Dowland, Dorcas sets out to defeat the dashing property developer in the parish council elections. In her quest to win, she finds herself caught up in a battle to prove there is a place for a woman in politics. Meanwhile, over in Lark Rise, the daily grind of making ends meet proves too much for Robert and Emma Timmins, as they become torn between the past and the future. As Candleford continues to embrace the growth and prosperity that James Dowland pledges, Roberts reluctance to change grows stronger. Lily Spicer (Lorraine Ashbourne True Dare Kiss, Jane Eyre) also has her own issues with change. Used to living her life on the road, the idea of a little home comfort is overwhelming. Longing to settle down, but hesitant to compromise her true self, Lily must decide what it is that makes her a real woman. Young romance continues to puzzle Alf Arless, as he again questions his feelings for Laura. With the help of Twister, they set out to win her over. But the introduction of Alfs new love interest is not quite what it seems.
The residents of Lark Rise and Candleford are experiencing more and more changes, and the old ways are receding faster than some like. When an accident happens on the path joining Lark Rise with Candleford, Dorcas Lane and James Dowland clash once again. The death of the Reverend Ellison unites the communities of Lark Rise and Candleford, but amongst the sadness Miss Ellison finds herself confronted with her brother George and a past she would really rather forget. Divided between her Christian values and her obligations to her late father, she struggles to know whether to follow her heart or her head. The road is falling apart and needs to be repaired. George (Oliver Dimsdale Nostradamus, He Knew He Was Right, Harley Street) soon becomes the talk of the town when he steps in to help the residents of Lark Rise. James Dowland, again wanting to utilise his business, is aggravated by Georges determination to finish the job without his help. Meanwhile, overwhelmed with grief, Miss Ellison is oblivious to Thomas Browns affection for her and his desire for her hand in marriage. Dorcas and Emma do all they can to bring them together, but Miss Ellison must first learn how to forgive if she is to learn how to love.
Time rests heavy on the residents of Lark Rise and Candleford as baby Annie stirs up emotions of days gone by and loves yet to be found. With Emma Timmins feeling the strain of feeding and clothing her family, Dorcas Lane offers to lend a helping hand unaware of the consequences that her generosity will bring. The feelings baby Annie inflames for both Dorcas and Ruby Pratt become too much to bear. But, with the Timmins house empty, Robert and Emma embrace their new-found freedom. Whilst the post office welcomes baby Annie, Thomas struggles to cope with the feelings which her presence brings. He must learn to accept his past and move on, if he and Miss Ellison are to have the future they so desperately long for. James Dowland, meanwhile, is keen to continue the progress of modernising Candleford and hires the help of the young and self-assured Fisher Bloom (Matthew McNulty Honest, Control, The Mark of Cain). Laura is quickly taken with his arrival, but feels uncomfortable and unable to let her true emotions show. James and Dorcas also do their best to avoid the feelings that they so obviously share for one other. Theres another dinner invitation, but this time things are different business is not on the menu.
When Dorcas is suddenly taken ill, Laura finds herself with more than one problem to solve. Afraid to admit that even she has limitations, Laura decides that she will not fail Dorcas. However, she soon realises that she must accept her own weaknesses if she is to succeed. With both Lark Rise and Candleford rallying around to show their support for Lauras new role in the Post Office, she soon feels the pressure mounting and is troubled when anonymous letters begin to arrive. When Minnie sees the delivery of one of the packages, her past catches up with her once again, and she is left fearful of her haunting memories. When James Dowland hears of Dorcass illness, he is deeply troubled and makes it his business to see that she is cared for properly. The relationship between the two of them continues to flourish as they finally begin to feel at ease with one another. Meanwhile, Lauras feelings for Fisher Bloom (Matthew McNulty) continue to flourish. Dorcas feels the need to protect Laura, and the hostility between Fisher and Dorcas begins to cloud the air. True love never runs smoothly and Laura and Fisher must decide whether to let fate determine their future.
Theres joy for Robert and Emma Timmins as Robert completes his work on the stone panels for the town clock (funded by James Dowland), and pay day brings its rewards for him and his family. But sadness comes hot on the heals of joy as Robert discovers that he has lost his precious tools and, by the same token, the means to feeding his family. On hearing of Roberts plight, Dorcas Lane organises a collection amongst the kindly folk of Candleford. Money is raised and a new set of tools is purchased, but will Roberts pride allow him to accept them? Meanwhile, there is double trouble for Laura Timmins. Not only is she worried about her family, there is a possibility that Fisher Bloom may be going away. While Laura is racking her brains to find a way to stop the love of her life leaving Candleford, Dorcas continues to find stability in her relationship with James Dowland.
Relationships are tested in Lark Rise and Candleford when relatives and friends arrive and, in some cases, all are not what they appear to be. Some have their hearts broken and others have theirs mended. But it is the true bond of the community that holds everyone together. The hot summer brings a surprise visitor to Candleford in the form of Celestia Brice Coulson (Samantha Bond Miss Moneypenny in the Pierce Brosnan James Bond films). Mrs Brice Coulson begins her stay at The Golden Lion Hotel and soon becomes acquainted with Dorcas Lane. However, Dorcas has other things on her mind when she begins walking out with James Dowland, causing heads to turn and tongues in the town to wag. Thomas Brown is working hard to hold two jobs, postman and hotel clerk. He is anxious that his betrothed, Miss Ellison, does not find out, in case she thinks he is financially insecure. Over in Lark Rise, Emmas father, Old Edmund (Paul Freeman Monarch of the Glen, Raiders of the Lost Ark), arrives and the Timmins family begins celebrations for his birthday. Problems arise when Emma asks her father to live with them permanently. Robert is not entirely keen on the idea and neither is Twister, as he thinks that Queenie may still harbour some affection for Old Edmund.
An attractive local milk maid, Nan (Rebecca Night Fanny Hill, Wuthering Heights), takes a fancy to Alf. But this budding young love looks like it might be thwarted by an animosity between Lark Rise and Fordlow that has been simmering for three generations. Things are made worse when Queenies bees are stolen and Twister is convinced it is Nans family and neighbours who committed such an unforgivable crime. In Candleford, James Dowland is making every effort to mend his relationship with Dorcas. Can he win back her affections, or does she know too much of his past to ever let him get close to her? His problems with Dorcas results in him taking his eye off the ball and the hotel runs less smoothly. It could mean that Thomas Brown will lose his job at the hotel, which in turn could put a cloud on his relationship with Miss Ellison. Will the date be set for their wedding, or will there be more disappointment for her?
As the Harvest Show comes around, Constable Patterson (Jason Watkins Little Dorrit, Funland, Conviction) is used to his wife (Michelle Fairley The Others, Best, Births Marriages and Deaths) taking to her bed with a mysterious illness. But this year is different: she gives him permission to seek a new wife. The Constable has no intention of doing any such thing until a Pratt Sister in distress sets his heart soaring. Will this new-found love come between the sisters who run Candlefords clothing store? And for the first time in years, Cabbage Patterson has a rival from Lark Rise taking him on in the harvest show.
A sudden storm reveals a secret romance, but also makes the address on a letter indecipherable. When Dorcas pursues the identity of the recipient of the letter, she reveals another secret. A child secret even from his own father. At the same time Dorcas hears a ghostly cry around the Post Office and she is determined to find out why it is haunting her. Laura is tormented with the knowledge of a betrayal but when she decides to meddle in the love life of her dear friend Alf, she makes things worse than ever. When Emma discovers she is once again pregnant, she finds it impossible to tell her husband. Miss Ellison, meanwhile, asks Robert to give her away at her wedding which brings objection, not just from Thomas Brown, but from others in the hamlet.
James Dowland is confined to his hospital bed when his son arrives in Candleford. Dorcas welcomes the child into the Post Office, encouraging her staff to do everything they can to make the boy feel at home in Candleford. But this turns out to cause a great deal of turmoil when James is at last released from hospital to be reunited with his son. Thomas Brown is preparing for his imminent wedding when a few words from the Common Book of Prayer cause him to spin in a torrent of uncertainty and anxiety. Meanwhile, Miss Ellison develops a strange disease of the skin which seems to be the result of her own anxieties. Will she go up the aisle with a face full of boils, or will she be healed in time?. Starring: Olivia Hallinan (Sugar Rush) , Julia Sawalha (Pride, Prejudice, Absolutely Fabulous) , Jason Merrells (Cutting It, Waterloo Road) , Dawn French (The Vicar of Dibley) , Mark Heap (Love Soup, Green Wing) , Brendan Coyle (Prime Suspect, True Dare Kiss) , Claudia Blakley (Jane Eyre, State of Play) , Linda Bassett (The Reader, Our Mutual Friend) , Karl Johnson (The Chatterley Affair, New Tricks)