A pair of dames made last night’s new television adaptation of Mrs Gaskell’s Cranford. Dame Judi and Dame Eileen played the two sisters Matty and Deborah Jenkyns in this terrific 19th-century drama. Eileen Atkins had some wonderful one-liners: ‘Speculation is the enemy of calm’; and ‘Clearly they are not carriage people’, as she saw a family new to the town step down from a hired coach. The rest of the starry cast includes Michael Gambon (yet to be seen), Francesca Annis, Julia McKenzie and Jim Carter and will run on BBC1 for the next four weeks. The period detail, the witty dialogue, the costumes and the sets, plus the top-class acting make this compulsive Sunday-night viewing — a real treat.