here are the new characters we will encounter in the Christmas special, Return to Cranford.
BBC Press Release
Mr Buxton (Jonathan Pryce)
Recently widowed, Mr Buxton has returned to his native Cranford with his son William and niece Erminia after a two-year absence. He can be blunt and volatile, often speaking and acting before thinking, but he is loyal, generous and down to earth. Though personally happy to live a quiet, unassuming life in the country, he has great ambitions for William, whom he is determined to see "marry up" and enter into politics.
William Buxton (Tom Hiddleston)
Mr Buxton's only child, William is bright and capable but, having dropped out of Cambridge when his mother fell terminally ill, he now struggles to find direction for himself without her gentle guidance. What is certain is that he has no interest in his father's political ambitions for him. He's far more excited by the technological and scientific advances of the modern age and engineering, in particular. But standing up to his formidable father and forging his own way will prove to be the greatest test to his character.
Peggy Bell (Jodie Whittaker)
The younger child of Mrs Bell and the deceased Curate of Cranford, she lives in an isolated cottage outside of town with her family. Though she's bullied by older brother, Edward, and ignored by her mother, she seems to have accepted her lot in life with good grace because she has a gentle and loving nature. But her solitary life has made her live too much in her own head, making her appear dreamy in public. Miss Matty feels for Peggy and actively encourages a friendship between Peggy and Erminia and William. Though different in many ways, Peggy enjoys this friendship and her true, surprisingly strong, character blossoms as a result.
Lady Glenmire (Celia Imrie)
A character from the original novel, Cranford, Lady Glenmire is the sister-in-law and social superior of Mrs Jamieson, though by far the more down-to-earth of the two. A genteel Scotswoman on the surface, she is intelligent, lively and very sociable – the exact opposite, therefore, of Mrs Jamieson. The Amazons are disappointed at first to find Lady Glenmire is far from grand but, once they get to know her, they secretly prefer her company to that of their old friend, Mrs Jamieson. And they are not the only ones who enjoy her company – Captain Brown finds her charming, sensible and energetic.
Lord Septimus Ludlow (Rory Kinnear)
Lady Ludlow's seventh and last-remaining child, Septimus is much talked about in the novel My Lady Ludlow but never actually appears, so he is a newly-created character. He arrives in Cranford from Italy after many years absence, bringing his bored and louche companion, Giacomo, with him. Lord Septimus is beautifully dressed, prone to enthusiasms and schemes, but is easily distracted, particularly when these schemes involve hard work. He is also sentimental and nostalgic.
Edward Bell (Matthew McNulty)
Peggy's older brother, Edward, is selfish and full of a sense of his own importance. His father left the family with little money in his will, and so Edward's education has been limited to home tutoring and a correspondence course. Ambitious to make money and a name for himself, he aims to exploit any possible benefits from the family's new association with wealthy Mr Buxton. Mrs Bell is too much in awe of Edward to check the wilder aspects of his character, and so he dominates life at home.
Mrs Bell (Lesley Sharp)
A widow, Mrs Bell is quietly mocked by Cranford's ladies for her dramatic display of grief at her husband's graveside each Sunday. Though genuinely bereft by his death, she has not only locked herself into this weekly ritual but refuses all social invitations, thereby dooming her children to a lonely life with little social contact. She now lives entirely for her domineering son, Edward, of whom she is rather in awe. Peggy will always be second best and functions at home more as a drudge than as a daughter.
Erminia Whyte (Michelle Dockery)
The orphaned daughter of Mr Buxton's younger sister and now his ward (and William’s cousin), Erminia has lived abroad and has recently finished an expensive education in Brussels. She is pretty, musical and full of life. At first Erminia befriends Peggy Bell out of a sense of kindness and duty, but she quickly sees the true value of Peggy's character and they become firm friends.
Signor Brunoni (Tim Curry)
A character from the original novel, Cranford, Signor Brunoni is an "Italian magician" advertised as Grand Magician of Arabia and Wizard to the King of Delhi. When tragic events in Cranford lead to his show being cancelled, Peter Jenkyns determines to invite him to return for a special Christmas performance. Colourful and quick-witted, Brunoni immediately sees through Miss Pole's attempts to discover the secrets of his show and finds ways to disconcert even the ever-certain Miss Pole.