a dowdy proprietor who fancies herself a local historian

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— Small-town gossip looms large in the U.K. import “The Trouble With Maggie Cole” (8 p.m. Sunday, PBS, TV-14, check local listings). Dawn French (“French & Saunders”) stars in the title role, as the dowdy proprietor of a gift shop who fancies herself the local historian of a beautiful little town with legends dating back to medieval Britain. 

“Trouble” begins when a slick London-based radio interviewer arrives for some dreary historical anniversary. Bored with Maggie’s civic pride and predictable patter, he plies her with gin and fawning attention and gets her to gossip about her friends and neighbors. 

The resulting broadcast is cringe-inducing for all concerned, particularly because some of her careless observations contain more than a whiff of truth. 

Pleasant to look at and blessed with a game cast including Mark Heap, Julie Hesmondhalgh and up-and-comer Arthur McBain, “Maggie” is more than troubled by problematic pacing and tone. 

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