Manor House
"What a project! The chance to actually live in the style of a world that no longer exists is a chance of a lifetime." Mrs Davies, housekeeper
Kelly the housemaid

Photograph of the family
The Olliff-Coopers

Photograph of the servants
The downstairs staff

If by chance you meet a Lower Servant, you should walk past, leaving them un-noticed... you will spare them the shame of explaining their presence
Lower Servants: if you meet one of your betters in the house, endeavour to make yourself invisible – 'give room', turn your back, and avert your eyes
"I really don't have problem with having servants...if I'm not being served, they don't have a job. This is absolutely magnificent. I'm enjoying it."
Sir John Olliff-Cooper
About the Series:
Frequently Asked Questions

We asked the producer of the Manor House series, Caroline Ross-Perie to answer some of your frequently asked questions.

What did you look for when choosing participants?

We looked for people who we thought would be able to cope with the experience and who would get a lot out of it. Each role was different and demanded a particular type of person.

Some of the roles needed to be filled by people with a particular skill-set. For example with the role of chef we looked for an experienced chef who would be able to cook Edwardian food for the whole household. With the role of the ladies maid, we needed to find someone who could sew.

With other roles we looked for they type of person whose personality suited the role. For example the job of butler demanded someone who was meticulous, extremely responsible, a good manager and above all interested in the Edwardian era and helping to recreate it.

The roles obviously demanded physical characteristics - for example, scullery maids needed to be female and between the age of 14 and 18, a footman needed to be a tall male between the ages of 16 and 24.

Above all, we looked for people who were genuinely interested in trying to recreate the Edwardian era and could imagine themselves as a particular person.

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To what extent were the participants scripted in the program?

In terms of dialogue - not at all. The participants were obliged however to abide by Edwardian standards of behaviour and to adapt to a complicated set of rules (outlined in rule books they were given) that governed everything in their daily lives. As well as outlining duties, these rule books informed the participants as to how they should behave towards one another. For example a maid would never talk to the Lady of the house and would have to turn her face to the wall if they were in the same room. In a way the experiment was like a role-playing game - the participants were given the parameters and rules and from within these strictures they could act how they wished.

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What are the cast doing now?

We've interviewed all the cast - read the interviews to find out what they're doing now.

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Were you looking at Edwardian life from a modern experience or an Edwardian perspective?

You can't take away the fact that our participants have lived in the modern day world and that their views, personality and approach to life are formed by this. So, they were very much people from modern times looking at Edwardian life from a modern experience. At the same time, you could say that perhaps some of our participants had a more 'Edwardian outlook' than others. Also, the further into the experiment we got, the more people were affected by Edwardian life and the more I think it changed their outlook and influenced their behaviour.

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How did you ensure historical veracity?

We heavily researched the time and era and tried to ensure historical veracity as far as we could. An experienced historian, Juliet Gardiner, who wrote the book 'Manor House' did a lot of the initial research. We used a lot of genuine objects from the period but we also had to recreate a lot of items, such as the clothes.

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What happened when the cameras weren't on the participants?

When the cameras weren't on, everyone in the house carried on exactly as they did when they were on camera. Nothing changed. At the start of the project they were more inclined to behave as modern day people, and rebel against the system, but as time drew on they adjusted to it.

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Did you think that the participants genuinely became more Edwardian in their behaviour as the project was underway?

It very much depends on what you mean by 'Edwardian'. People certainly got used to their roles and in that sense got more Edwardian.

In terms of being happier being Edwardian or part of 21st Century, I think that some participants certainly preferred their Edwardian roles and took to them more readily. For example, the family were quite loathe to leave their Edwardian life. Other participants who had a more physically hard time, such as the scullery maids would have appreciated the 21st Century more - a couple of the scullery maids actually rejected the Edwardian Era quite quickly.

I think it would be true to say that the experience certainly affected all the participants and perhaps changed their outlook and understanding of what it was to be 'Edwardian'.

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How long did the cameras film the participants each day?

There was a camera crew in the house for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. On gala occasions such as the dinner party and the ball, there were two crews. On the days when there were no crews, contributors always had access to their diary cameras.

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How much contact did participants have with the outside world. Were they told about 11 September for example?

The participants had some contact with the outside world through meeting people - the family in particular entertained quite a lot.

In terms of media - the participants were pretty isolated. There was no television, radio or newspapers. The only papers they received were Edwardian. Some people did occasionally catch news headlines on the papers in the local shop.

In terms of September 11, the production team did inform the participants of the event, though very little detail was gone into.

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Did the participants enjoy their time in the house?

It varied - some participants certainly enjoyed their time more than others. I think everyone got a lot out of the experience and a lot of good friendships were made. For more information you can read the post production questionnaires with each character.

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Are there any plans for a follow up program covering the characters adjustment back to the 21st century?

There are no plans as of yet to follow up with a program as to how the participants lives have changed, but you can read the post production questionnaires.

We are looking at returning to other periods of history with future series.