'Cranford Chronicles' cast announced
Starring alongside Dame Judi Dench will be acclaimed actors Francesca Annis, Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon, Philip Glenister, Lesley Manville, Julia Sawalha, Julia McKenzie, Imelda Staunton and Greg Wise.
I Capture The Castle and Lilies writer Heidi Thomas has written the script, adapted from the three novels by Elizabeth Gaskell.
The story follows the lives of the people of Cranford, a small rural Cheshire town. Set in the 1840s, Gaskell's novels show the struggle of the local people in a rapidly changing world.
Kate Harwood, BBC head of drama series & serials, said: "We are privileged to have assembled a great cast to give life to these wonderful characters, now we can look forward to seeing these richly moving stories unfold."
Dench will play Miss Matty Jenkyns, whose hopes and lively spirit were crushed when she was forced as a young woman to give up the man she loved, played by Gambon, and to live in the shadow of her elder sister, Deborah, played by Atkins.
According to reports, the serial was originally postponed in 2005 amid claims of BBC budget cuts. Cranford's producer Sue Birtwistle was behind the highly-acclaimed television productions of Pride and Prejudice and Wives and Daughters.
She said in January "Five years ago, I made a wish: to be allowed to conjure an entirely new drama out of three Elizabeth Gaskell novels, and to persuade Judi Dench to play Miss Matty. Dream come true. Is one allowed to be this lucky?"
The production begins filming this month in Wiltshire and London.