The article below by Sean Marland highlights a change in the period drama scene.
[As much as I'm enjoying Downton Abbey, I hate to think that it's the reason that the BBC has given up on Lark Rise to Candleford as Marland hints in his article. I will say that I do hope that the overwhelming success of Downton Abbey encourages the BBC to step up their game and stop with the recycling of so many classics when countless other adaptations have yet to be adapted for screen - a frustration echoed by so many of us!]
"Lark Rise To Candleford returned to our screens this month in a flourish of bonnets and terribly frightful misunderstandings, but while time passes rather languidly for country folk in the 19th century, the same cannot be said in the field of modern costume drama. Downton Abbey may have won gushing plaudits from all corners last year, but this week’s news that its counterpart will be axed is the biggest compliment it will ever receive and confirmation that it had raised the bar in the BBC’s own backyard. A few years back, their producers simply divided a pre-war novel into six episodes, dug out the keys to the corset cupboard and put in a call to Julia Sawalha’s agent. However, like a navvy with a JCB, their erstwhile bumbling rivals blew the whole genre wide-open last Autumn.
...As joyful, rich and popular as Lark Rise is, in the wake of this genre shake-up, it seemed older hat than any head attire worn on its rural sets. While I realise that such parameters are both deliberate and highly-cherished, the fact that the programme has no great themes aside from the quaint examination of human foibles and the ongoing novelty of old-fashioned mores makes for slightly repetitive viewing. Lark Rise has always been inexplicably idyllic, but after watching Fellowes’ fiercely chronological story-arc, the Corporation’s thoroughly un-mechanised costume vehicle started to look very lightweight in its fourth outing. It is an experience rather than a story.
...Lark Rise has retained audience figures this year, but while bosses from Wood Lane will insist that this week’s termination was all planned well before Downton was even thought of, a scenario in which the ITV drama kick-started a re-jig seems more likely."