Tuned into this one yesterday - a one-off BBC 'romantic' drama TV film first shown on 30th December 2001. Set in Victorian (what seems to be Somerset/Devon but actually filmed in East Sussex), George appears stars as stationmaster Pope, reaching retirement soon but whose career gets a last-minute lift when he hears Queen Victoria is coming to visit.
That isn't the main plot here though - this is based around an orphanage, sponsored by a local lord, whose son wants rid of it in order to replace it with a hotel. It also follows the plight of of the young woman in charge of the orphanage (Harriet Collins played by Laura Fraser) and Pope's assistant Bob Gregson (played by Charlie Creed-Miles).
There is quite a lot going on in this film, different stories destined to meet, plot twists and turns, depiction of child labour, greed, a bit of romance and even some guns and animal abuse - all done very tactfully of course. The DVD cover above really doesn't portray what this film is about - yes, there are a boy and dog in it - but the story isn't just about them.
With a host of famous faces in this it is very hard not to like it - as well as those mentioned there's Frank Finlay, (a very well disguised) Prunella Scales, Timothy West, Nadia Sawalha, a very young Thomas Brodie-Sangster (on DVD cover above) and John Thomson to name just a few. The real star of the show is perhaps Jim, the station dog who does all he can to outsmart some very nasty types that want to do their best to disrupt the arrival of the Queen.
If you like trains, dogs, George Cole this film is a lovely way to spend 1.5 hours - George Cole on top form and despite it's more soft/romantic themes, I very much enjoyed it. That dog - I want one.
I had to import the DVD from the states. No surprise maybe considering many folks in the USA love Victoria themed films and even Steampunk since many of them go that far. So I would see why this movie got a DVD release in North America when I couldn't find a European version of the movie here.
Moviewise, I could barely recognise George Cole in this film. George Cole delivers in terms of humour also. It is a good movie seeing how he runs the rural train station. I wonder why anyone would make a drama on trains, considering us Brits and Londoners have loads of train stations around town and country. It's another family film and yes, as I've seen so many characters in this movie who get their enough of their own screen time and the cover doesn't represent what this movie is about. The kid on the cover barely is seen within the film. Excellent production values, they're really beefed up the set and costumes in this movie.