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By the second episode, the Daily Mail had already dismissed Peter Moffat’s rural epic as ‘lefty nonsense’. Hardly surprising, really. After all, it was occupying a timeslot that, over on ITV at least, is regularly reserved for a show glorifying Britain’s bygone ruling class. ‘The Village’ must have been a shock to the system. But let’s resist the temptation to suggest that the Mail’s griping justified the show’s existence in itself, and look a little more closely. Does this series really lean to the left? Or simply seek to explore the unvarnished reality of rural life during the early twentieth century?
Tonight’s closing episode deals with the aftermath of the Great War. There’s not a lot of triumphalism. But why would there be? The village is full of traumatised, badly wounded former soldiers who can’t get jobs. There’s a conscientious objector too, isolated and persecuted. There’s the Middleton family, struggling with the truth about their son’s brutal end. And then there are the Allinghams, in the Big House; wealthy but not insulated from the horror.
Disgustingly subversive, perhaps. But then Moffat did research the show at that hotbed of socialism, the Imperial War Museum, so what did we expect? Still, joking aside, we’d love this downbeat but mesmerising show to get another series. Wonderful performances, fine writing and even, right at the end, a touch of redemption.