8 September 2002 | Markhoni
More cosy fare from the BBC
One of the latest in a long line of heartwarming, wholesome family series which the BBC has been making for 50 years. In the 1990's they largely surrendered this Sunday night territory to commercial rivals ITV (Heartbeat, Where the Heart Is.. etc) but have recently made a comeback with this show and 'Born and Bred'. Like many of its predecessors it boasts stunning scenery and well-acted character turns. To my mind its main weakness is its very small regular cast, basically half a dozen principals and a lack of 'occasional' characters who can appear from time to time. The number of dramatic permutations among the regulars is therefore very small and most of the storylines rely on the old 'Bonanza' standby of mysterious strangers turning up unannounced each week to inspect the castle kitchens and the like. This does become very repetitive after a while and is more noticeable than in shows that have more regular and recurring characters. The regular cast has grown even smaller in the third series with the demise of the old laird played by Richard Briers (The BBC stalwart got fed up of the long shooting schedules and was blown up at the end of series 2). As a result the third series has seen an increasing role for lovable old buffer Lord Kilwillie, played by Julian Fellowes. In another guise Fellowes was the screen writer for the movie 'Gosford Park.'