About the Series:
At a time when industrial and commercial wealth was only just being accepted into the
ranks of high society, it was crucial for a nouveau riche family like the Olliff-Coopers
to hold and improve their position at the top. In episode two we will watch this happen,
set about using their new assets including their
country house, their male servants and their French chef to maximum affect in that
most powerful social weapon - the dinner party
The family is settling in to their new luxurious lifestyle. Lady Olliff-Cooper feels
like a child again. Her spinster sister
is already tired of being treated
like a child.
Mr Jonathan and
Master Guyare learning
to talk to people 50 years
their senior while 'looking down their noses' and Sir John is wishing modern society
was a little more like it is at Manderston.
Downstairs there is some jostling for position going on. There is a new scullery maid -
Kelly Squire and she is not enjoying the job much more than her predecessor.
Kenny the hallboy
doesn't want to wash up her dishes as he has enough "grot" jobs
Charlie the first footman
rises to the challenge of unifying the downstairs
team. For one day he becomes the scullery maid, Kelly the hallboy and Kenny the footman.
Reporting back to the butler he declares that the job is more than workable -
Kelly should soldier on.
But as Charlie himself is to discover, rules are there to be broken. After a night
at the local pub - Kenny and Charlie are hungover and completely unfit for work.
Charlie and Kenny are not the first servants to succumb to the temptation of alcohol
and the local pub.
of the period frequently record dismissal on grounds
of excessive drinking.
Mr Edgar the butler can't
contain his sense of betrayal. But he does not
dismiss his boys - instead he aims to pull together a stricter regime. Servants were
not there to embarrass their masters in front of visitors. Their master's standing was
after all a direct reflection on their own. For this reason he is determined to put on
a good show for the dinner.
Upstairs the family is discovering the burden of observing etiquette. Their
privacy and informality have been replaced by the need to keep up appearances
in front of the servants and now in front of important guests. As plans are
laid down for dinner the mechanics of the house will be demonstrated. What the
master and mistress can't know is that every little order has huge implications for
those slaving below.
As Lady Olliff-Cooper nervously dresses for dinner, there is activity of a more
frenzied nature in the Manderston kitchen. The servants have long expressed doubts
about the chef's ability and even his sanity. However, on the night of the dinner
party he puts them all to shame. Upper and lower staff alike stand back in amazement
as Monsieur Dubiard puts the finishing touches to a stunning seven-course banquet of
soups and soufflés, oysters and quails worthy of his master and more importantly himself.
By 7 o'clock the guests have arrived including Lord & Lady Steel, Lord Deedes, David
Mellor, Alan Beith MP and his wife Baroness Maddock. They form an ideal group to
discuss the politics of the day. (Though only after the ladies have left the room,
of course.) The Liberal party is in resurgence and seems determined to raise taxes
from the wealthy to help pay for radical new policies aimed at alleviating the plight
of society's worst off.
While the footmen drink from their master's glasses as they clear the dinner
table, the second scullery maid decides she's had enough and packs her bags, leaving
the remaining staff to reflect with pride on a job well done. For the guests that evening,
the illusion was complete.
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