About the Series:
The occasion of a ball on the theme of Empire is an opportunity to place
Manderston in a wider context. Homes like
Manderston were built on the spoils
of Empire and the international markets it produced. Their owners were men who
became so rich and so successful that they saw the world as their oyster and the
British race as the finest in the world.
The tutor Mr Reji Raj-Singh
has a very different angle on Britain's Imperial past.
In life his parents were Indian and he was brought up in Fiji, which was once a
British colony. In the house he represents the growing population of Asian people
- many educated and wealthy, who spent at least part of their life in the UK learning
the ropes of British administration. As tutor to nine-year-old Guy, he is keen to
impress on the child what the Empire meant both to the British and to those brought
up in British territory.
As a concession to his unhappy tutor,
Sir John decides to host a
to commemorate the Delhi Durbar of 1911 at which the new king George V was
crowned Emperor of India. Amongst the
200,000 guests on that occasion was the father of PRINCE Moshin Ali-Khan,
of Hyderabad who now lives in London and has agreed to visit our Manor
House. Joining him will be writer and journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and
broadcaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy. The hosts plan to serve a magnificent curry supper.
When chef retires
to his bed with gastric flu, there's panic below stairs. It's too late to postpone
the Raj Supper, on top of which they have a fancy dress Empire ball for 50 to cater
for at the weekend. With
Mrs Davies now in charge
of the catering, Antonia,
Ellen will have to cope alone. With Monsieur issuing instruction from his sick bed they set about the task of cooking bhajis, samosa's, naan bread and curry. Their first test, to feed the Khatak dancers who are to provide the after dinner entertainment for the guests. Things are not looking good when the dancers aver that the curry doesn't taste like anything they've ever tasted before.
Mr Raj Singh is unhappy about the fact that the dancers are being treated like
servants and having to eat downstairs. He himself has been treated as a member of
the family. Like any caring Edwardian father, Sir John is keen for his son to
understand that he is not being taught by a servant but by an educated and trusted
gentleman. Unable to go below stairs and not quite family, Mr Raj Singh has found
himself increasingly alone.
The isolation has particular resonance because of his
race. He hints at this to the guests at dinner, who have already succeeded in
rattling Sir John. But his comments about the restrictions affecting him in the
house are seen by the butler as an abuse of the family's generosity and an insult
to the staff. On the eve of the Empire Ball he is not a popular man.
(Lady Olliff Cooper's sister) returns after a period of recovery,
he is greatly comforted in having someone to talk to - and sets about mending
fences with the staff below stairs.
With the help of some school friends
is to put on an Empire Day play which
will open the ball. Miss Morrison
is to make the costumes and
play Britannia while his friends are transformed into the heroes of the empire -
from Lord Nelson to the aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps. Floral arrangements
for the ball will be garlanded with pineapple and citrus fruits to represent the
fruits of the empire and the chef will cook some of his boldest concoctions to
date including dishes of ostrich wellington and kangaroo fricasse.
Amidst the jingoism and celebrations, writer and broadcaster Darcus Howe
arrives to find out more about Sir John and his background. Darcus is one of the
guests at the ball, who all arrive beautifully costumed as famous figures of the
Empire. As the celebrations upstairs reach a crescendo, downstairs Kenny and
Ellen read about the sinking of the Titanic. Some saw the event as an omen that
the glamour and excesses of the Edwardian era were finally coming to an end.
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