tue 04/08/2020

The Village, Series 2, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

The Village, Series 2, BBC One

The Village, Series 2, BBC One

Peter Moffat eases off on the misery as the rural series enters the Twenties

Putting a smile on the face of The Village: Alfie Stewart as Bert Middleton

The Village got its commemoration in early. While the First World War has been on every broadcaster’s to-do list 100 years on, Peter Moffat’s portrait of rural life covered 1914-18 in 2013. The first series was not, it may be safely contended, a lot of fun. So all-encompassing was the miserablism that after six hours you weren’t sure whether to swallow a bottle of anti-depressants or throw a brick at a mansion.

The good news is the war is over and things may just be looking up. In one giant stride The Village has caught up with Downton Abbey and entered the roaring Twenties. You know the sort of thing to expect: flappers and the Labour movement. On the stump and in the pub there is much talk of changing times.

And yet up to a point things are very much as you were. The dignified but blighted Middletons (John Simm and Maxine Peake) are still struggling to rub two brass farthings together as tenant farmers, while up at the big house the nobs haven’t grown any less beastly. As lady of the manor Clem Allingham, velveteen vamp Juliet Stevenson remains a couple of hems short of the full ballgown, while her entweeded son Edmund (Rupert Evans) is frightfully keen on becoming the next Home Secretary.

He has enlisted a panto villain to help with this, in the shape of a dastardly proto-Murdoch called Lord Kilmartin. His Lordship owns papers, calls the shots in government and thumps people a lot, above and below the belt. He’s played by Julian Sands (pictured). Those of a certain age may fondly recall Sands playing free spirits before he vanished into American miniseries. All young juves are cast as Tories in the end.

Perhaps aware that the first series was such a relentless downer, Moffat has attempted to paste a thin smile across The Village’s face. Joe Middleton may have been shot for desertion last time round but his young brother Bert (Alfie Stewart) has now grown up into a canny lad who can hold his own in a fair fight. By the end of the first hour the Middletons even had a bit of money in their pockets, plus a new calf. All they need is a stable to house it in. It’s currently domiciled in the kitchen.

As is now statutory, there was a chance for the nice characters to show how untainted they are by the embedded racism of the period when a boxer trading as Ghana Jones dropped by to challenge all-comers. See also Dancing on the Edge and the last series of Downton. In television drama, revisionism is the new black. A little bit of grey shading to go with all the monochrome morality would come up a treat.

As for the next few weeks, the decent working classes are on the march and the General Strike is just over the horizon. We also have some sexual indiscretions to look forward to. The wannabe Home Secretary has an eye for the chaps, while Edwina Mountbatten’s ravenous appetites have been mentioned in dispatches. “Do not get in a taxi with Edwina!” someone was advised. Do let’s.

Velveteen vamp Juliet Stevenson is still a couple of hems short of the full ballgown

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3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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A corker of a programme absolutely fantastic can't wait to see the series unfold

Please be a series 3

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