Executive Producer: Richard Beynon
Producer: John Hawkesworth
Director: Cyril Coke, Bill Bain, Raymond Menmuir, Simon Langton
The Duchess of Duke Street/Episode 1/Intro by Alistair Cooke
Good evening, I'm Alistair Cooke.
Tonight we begin something rather special: a series conceived and produced by John Hawkesworth who produced and guided Upstairs/Downstairs with such an iron hand, but a velvet touch.
John Hawkesworth is a man of many talents. He was born of an Army family, went to Paris as a young man, was and is a splendid watercolorist, went into theatre direction and business, and is a Master of Foxhounds. He also knows every nook and cranny of London and is an expert on Edwardian and Victorian London. And it's to that period that he returns in the series we start tonight.
It's called The Duchess of Duke Street, and is about a remarkable Cockney girl who wasn't a duchess and wasn't born on Duke Street. To three generations of Londoners she was known as Rosa Lewis. She started life very poor, left school at twelve, worked as an undermaid, a skivvy of all work for four ghastly years, then got into a fashionable house because her great ambition was to be the best cook in England. In time she came to buy and eventually cook vegetables for choosy people, and came to cook for all the great houses. Subsequently she bought herself a hotel, the Cavendish Hotel on Jermyn Street, just south of Piccadilly. She never lost a Cockney vowel or picked up an aitch. And she handled her whole crew, whether staff or guests, baronets or busboys, like a Pirate King.
Now this is a vivid carbon copy of her life. Of course it's a work of fiction. Let's just say that any similarity between Rosa Lewis and Louisa Leyton is entirely accidental--and astonishingly close.
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