Bert is the second oldest man in Britain, and a film is being made about his life and his village. He takes us back to the summer of 1914, when he was 12 years old.
It is January 1915; the Middleton farm has fallen on very hard times, and John is drinking heavily. A strange incident then takes place at the manor house.
Conscription is introduced for the first time in British history. Call up papers are delivered throughout the village, and soldiers requisition Big Molly.
Bert decides that winning the Rondo, an annual wheel barrow race on the cricket field, is a matter of life or death: if he wins, then Joe will be kept safe.
Joe's brief leave is over. He has tried hard to conceal his shell shock but Grace knows that something is wrong. Bert's actions have disastrous consequences for the family.
The war is over, and the village tries to come to terms with its loss. The debate over how best to honour their dead divides the community.
It is 1923 and The Allinghams have had a good war and are now living in a grander house, where Edmund is holding a weekend party for the entertainment of his political sponsor, Lord Kilmartin. Bert Middleton as wagered Kilmartin £5 that he’ll win as he attempts to save up to leave the Village for a job in Sheffield. John Middleton is now a dairy farmer and has been renting young Alf Rutter’s barn to house his 20 head of cattle and milking machine.
Phoebe and Bert begin a tentative relationship. Bill encourages Grace to take part in the bike ride across the Peaks, but tries to justify why she's spending so much time with Bill. John notices that she's distracted, but believes it's because she's in fact attracted to Alf. Marie Stope's caravan arrives in town. Gilbert takes charge at the factory and moves Agnes to another part of the floor, with disastrous results. Hankin's dancehall opens. Robin believes he has a way to help Martha escape.
Grace is inspired by Bill Gibby to take an interest in life beyond the confines of the village. John is finally making a success of their farm but starts to feel that Grace is growing away from him.
Preparations are underway for a wedding of convenience at the Big House between Edmund and Harriet. Meanwhile, a love match takes place in the village as Gilbert and Agnes get married in the face of Norma's fierce opposition. The Middletons are finally doing well but Grace and John are drifting apart as her politicisation sits uneasily with John's determined self-reliance. But he loves her and is determined to win her back. Meanwhile, Bert decides to leave the village altogether and make his fortune elsewhere. And Martha and Eyre wonder at what kind of future they could have together.