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Back To 'The Village'

12/08/2014 16:43 BST | Updated 11/10/2014 10:59 BST

Anyone else think "The Village" sounds a bit grim? It's entirely suitable for the show itself (BBC, 9pm on a Sunday), as anyone who saw the last series will know, but it doesn't do much for it.

The above title makes this sound like I'm either a) reviewing a horror film or b) about to slag off people living in the countryside. If The Village was a documentary, it might have been both.

For anyone new to the series, The Village is sort of like This Is England set in the 20th Century British countryside. The first installment was unrelentingly bleak, and just as compelling; contrasting the struggles of a lowly farmstead with the pomp of the neighboring aristocracy.

John Simm is back as John Middleton- father of Bert the narrator -and Maxine Peak as his wife Grace. Their baby girl is now well into her childhood, looking up to Bert as Bert looked up to Joe, and there is an edge of optimism to this new series that hadn't quite made it in the first.

If you haven't already seen it, I'd recommend watching the first series before getting into this one, as regulars will surely recognize where this optimism stems from.

Simply put, the worst is over. The Middletons are recovering, with a newborn calf to replace the horse from last time, and they have learnt how to manage the issues that plague their existence on a daily basis. It's still terribly emotional at times, as you'd expect. But there's plenty to cheer about too.

The toffs, for one thing, are superb. Regulars such Lady Allingham are as wry as ever, whilst newcomer Lord Kilmartin is the sort of villain you demand of any upper-class/lower-class battleground. The Clarkson comparisons are inevitable.

There is plenty of action between the contrasting sides of country life, and the "bad" side is rather more complex than it first appears, with a few good twists thrown in to keep things interesting.

Fellow regulars will delight in the return of familiar faces, such as Bert's former teacher and the local vicar, while newcomers will hopefully wonder how the heck they missed out last time. The acting all-round is up there with the best, which is just as well.

It's been quite a while since I've had a weekly series to sink my interest into- now that the Walking Dead is on leave, and Luther has left things on potentially-permanent-standby.

It's good to be back.

Thanks for reading,

Tim Manton