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Manor House


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#1

TyranAmiros

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Posted May 24, 2004 @ 2:35 AM

With the new House show, Colonial House, on the air, I was reminded of my personal favorite House: Manor House.

I just finished watching the DVDs, and I think what really set this House apart from the others was the fact that the emphasis was very different from most. Frontier, Colonial, even 1940's to some extent focus on the relationship between man and the environment primarily--survival, technological differences, attitude and emotional differences based on the struggle to survive. Manor House, on the other hand, seems to me to focus much more on the interpersonal side of things. None of these people are starving, and despite the hard labor of virtually all the servants, it's not life-or-death. And because of that, it's able to focus on the relationships and emotional issues, which I personally enjoy more.
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#2

KimberleeJean

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Posted May 24, 2004 @ 6:14 PM

I agree, TyranAmiros. Manor House was really in a leauge of its own. It was mentioned on the Colonial House thread that the sex differences were not being absorbed by the participants. The gender roles were completely absorbed in Manor House and it was fascinating to watch.

To some extent, they were absorbed in 1900 House, as well, especially by the mother, as she was trapped there all day long and was very much "in her own world."
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#3

Adric

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Posted May 24, 2004 @ 11:31 PM

I was surprised at how wrapped up into this show I was when it first aired. The biggest surprise to me was how I grew to love the head Butler. I really teared up at the end.
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#4

jensgirl

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Posted May 28, 2004 @ 12:59 PM

Word, Adric. I also grew to really love the butler and admired him so much for his integrity in remaining true to the experience. He seemed to be the most profoundly effected, as well, because he mentioned his grandfather having the same job he now had and how he could better understand how terribly difficult his grandfather's life was and why he never had the energy to play with the grandkids on his one day off. Very touching.

Edited by jensgirl, May 28, 2004 @ 1:00 PM.

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#5

Hand in a Flame

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Posted May 29, 2004 @ 12:55 AM

Word to both Adric and jensgirl. Manor House was totally my favorite one as well. I found it more humorous and engaging then any of the other house shoes. I loved the Head Butler, and the cook who told off Sir John during the party. That ruled, cause it was totally true and it was the first time that the hypocrite speech on any reality show was seconded so vigorously.

TyranAmiros, was there any extra footage or special features on the DVD worth buying it for if you don't have it on tape?
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#6

TyranAmiros

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Posted May 29, 2004 @ 2:04 AM

I've since returned the DVDs, but there were a series of short clips called the Edwardian Diaries. However, I think most of them are availible on the PBS site. Maybe someone who actually owns them could confirm/deny this?

I would have liked more extras, as I'm sure they have more footage available. It would have been interesting to hear a historian walk through Manderson and talk about daily life, and compare it to the show, like note that in the kitchen, a house that size would have generally had at least two sous chefs and probably a pastry chef/desert chef as well, and probably a second scullery. They say that Manderson has space for a staff of at least 21 (minus the groomsmen, who live in the stables), and I am curious to know how the rest of the staff would have shaped up.

Edited by TyranAmiros, May 29, 2004 @ 2:05 AM.

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#7

belle jolie

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Posted May 31, 2004 @ 11:43 PM

I just watched all 6 hours of Manor House this weekend, courtesy of the San Antonio Public Library. I saw 1900, FH, and CH when they were first shown on PBS, but I was living in Tokyo when MH had its American debut. (I currently have a hold on 1940 House, and it's in transit to my local branch. Yea!)

Watched the Edwardian Diaries. They were interesting, distinct from what is on the PBS website, but, alas a mere 20 minutes long. But you do get to see what Mrs. Davies really thought of Mr. Edgar, Antonia (who was my favorite of the women) and Rob making out (for real? for fun?), an actual sincere moment with Anna (I refuse to call that delusional, elitist woman a lady), and several Manderston residents' reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

So if you want to buy the DVD solely for the Diaries, I would say it's not worth the price. (Perhaps check with your public library.) BUT, if you want to watch MH over and again for the sheer pleasure, go for it.
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#8

Lyddie

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Posted Jun 1, 2004 @ 6:25 AM

For those of us without access to them, spill! What did Mrs. Davies really think of Mr. Edgar?
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#9

purplefishy

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Posted Jun 2, 2004 @ 5:19 PM

So if you want to buy the DVD solely for the Diaries, I would say it's not worth the price. (Perhaps check with your public library.) BUT, if you want to watch MH over and again for the sheer pleasure, go for it

.

Big Fat Word to this! I bought the DVD's (and at a rather steep price, too) and I LOVE them. I haven't watched the diaries in a while so I couldn't say whether the material on the DVD is different from the website, but my recollection is that they are mostly the same. It is quite a laugh, and I get to sigh over Footman 1.0. Too nice.
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#10

belle jolie

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Posted Jun 4, 2004 @ 8:19 AM

For those of us without access to them, spill! What did Mrs. Davies really think of Mr. Edgar?


He told her how to cut her sandwich. So she told her camera that he is pompous and arrogant. That he doesn't know what he's doing (b/c he lives alone) and he is JUST an architect.
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#11

Midnite Blue

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Posted Jun 18, 2004 @ 4:33 AM

I thought "Sir John" was okay... he was just playing his role. The cook would have likely been fired in the real times, if she'd told him off in front of everyone. (Are you all talking about the kitchen worker who spoke back to him, regarding their sneaking out the night before ? Or did the male chef tell off Sir John and I missed it?).

On the PBS website it said that the chefs were hard to come by and notoriously uneven in temperament - and that the Manor House owners typically put up with a lot from the chefs in order to keep them there & cooking etc.

I liked the Butler the best I think. He seemed to have the most dignity and also seemed the most realistic. I also did like that same kitchen worker (the sort of portly young woman) who snarked at Sir John - but I still think she didn't keep to her role in that exchange. (role in the series)

I wonder if scullery maids in those times, really did almost no work, like all the scullery maids seemed to (not) do in Manor House ? Wouldn't they have been fired ? Someone would have noticed things not getting done, and, if they were not fired the housekeeper may have been. She would've been in charge of seeing they did their work. I doubt the others would have had the time to cover for her (scullery maid) all the time, as they did in the show.

Also if any staff were caught 'together' like two of them apparently were - (not caught, but together) they'd have been sacked and left without references. I doubt htey'd have risked that so glibly in those days. The male might have found other employment but for a young girl of that social class, she may well have ended up as a prostitute, since she wuoldn't have been able to get other work in a household. Or perhaps in a factory... where she would likely have been harassed by her boss... (it happened in Manor Houses too of course) or else if the guy actually married her she may have been OK although much poorer.

I mean there is a reason that many people in those days took jobs in Manor Houses and even lived apart from their (including nuclear) families - to work non stop - it was still a better life than they might have had elsewhere. Living in a shack and still working non stop, maybe for less pay and with breathing in factory smoke etc.etc.

The part where the elderly woman who used to be in a Manor House kitchen, told them all what it was like, was really interesting. I wish tv producers would wise up & include more of all that stuff, in the DVDs. A DVD should always have a LOT of stuff you can't see in the regular show. When is anyone else ever going to interview an 80-something, former Edwardian kitchen maid, after all ?

I felt sorry for the 'auntie' who ended up leaving the house for a while. In those days, though, that is probably just how she would have felt. Women without a husband in that social class, had a pretty low status :o( If she didn't marry some older wealthy man, she'd have been an appendage in that household forever, instead. Pretty bleak stuff for a 21st century adult to get used to.

Sir John sure did take to his role easily ;o) But truthfully, who wouldn't ? Long as you didn't think about all the work going on all around you... But of course that is how it would have been then too (IMO) - resentment to some extent from the staff, but, also thinking they are as smart or smarter anyway etc. That is pretty much how most of them (except the Butler) sounded. The Butler knew his place within the household and contented himself with it - not being able to change it. In those times none of them could have worked their way up - (unless perhaps a young beauty happened to marry a wealthy man and become mistress of her own household but - RARE) so they'd have had to either content themselves too, or seep in bitterness.

A very interesting show. I really feel it was largely due to the house's large amount of people, and also above all the mostly isolated nature of the experiment. They were living & breathing that house - almost like a colony of ants ! And if one of them stopped working or stepped aside, it faltered for a bit. In the other "Houses" I had the feeling they all kept thinking "Oh but in a couple months I am outta here anyway. No need to worry about chopping wood (Frontier House) I won't REALLY die." I'm not saying the conditions should be dangerous - just more set up so they HAVE to counter depend upon one another. Then you get a more accurate recreation of the actual conditions of the time, IMO. That and, no trips to the drugstore allowed at all (in 1900 House, how did they slip away like that ?).

And please no more small casts of people (1900 House) especially if they are whiney as she was... I got so tired of hearing her moan about the food, and the lack of shampoo, I had to stop watching it. Casting a vegetarian for that show was daft, too, I gotta say. As the show said, vegetarians in those times were rare & it would likely have only been in cases like, single, ill, and/or eccentric - not an ordinary family.

Edited by Midnite Blue, Jun 18, 2004 @ 4:38 AM.

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#12

purplefishy

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Posted Jun 18, 2004 @ 11:33 AM

A very interesting show. I really feel it was largely due to the house's large amount of people, and also above all the mostly isolated nature of the experiment. They were living & breathing that house - almost like a colony of ants ! And if one of them stopped working or stepped aside, it faltered for a bit. In the other "Houses" I had the feeling they all kept thinking "Oh but in a couple months I am outta here anyway. No need to worry about chopping wood (Frontier House) I won't REALLY die."


I completely agree. I think that MH worked better than a lot of the other shows (not that they didn't have their merits) because it was so self-contained, and each particpant was given extremely specific instructions (washing private parts, anyone?) on how to behave and at what time they were to do everything. Part of the fun was seeing them try to keep up with the pace that the rule books had set out for them. Also, because they had such a mixture of people who were all doing their own job (instead of trying to do the same thing- like a bunch of people chopping wood or something of that nature), and sometimes working at cross-purposes, it made for more drama.
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#13

D.C.

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Posted Jun 18, 2004 @ 10:16 PM

I thought "Sir John" was okay... he was just playing his role.


I can't say I agree. I almost think he was trying to see how hard he could push people. The best example I can think of had to do with the lack of days off the staff had. The narator made the point that there was no 40 hour week in Edwardian times and no limit to how many days a person had to work without a day off. But that was the law, not necessarily the custom. I think that most supervisors--in this case, the head of a grand household--would realize that people cannot work unremitting hours without it taking a toll on their performance. And that's taking a purely utilitarian view of things; most people think of themselves as being at least somewhat generous and humanitarian as well and interested in other people's welfare, even if the people themselves differed on what was "good" for them.

By the way, if you're interested in domestic service during this era, read Esther Waters, a novel by George Moore. It was published about 1900 and follows the travails and victories of a servant girl at a large estate who is dismissed after she's seduced by another servant. That sounds kind of goopy and melodramatic, but Moore was one of the first English realists--he was inspired by Flaubert and Madame Bovary--and his details are constantly amazing. You learn all about the difference between being a maid in a big house with a big house and being a maid-of-all-work for a single woman, about life in a charity maternity hospital, and, when Esther's wife is on an upswing, what went into managing a pub and even how racetracks worked. One thing you learn is that some time off, even if it's just a half-day a week, was standard for all workers at all levels of the spectrum.
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#14

SpringBarb

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Posted Jun 19, 2004 @ 12:02 AM

I wouldn't say that Sir John is just playing a role, either. There's something in his personality that let him take to that. A good counter to him is Jonty, who clearly struggles with the fact that he has to act a certain way around the servants.

Upon rewatching of this, I realized I had forgotten how annoying the tutor was. Good Lord.
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#15

Lyddie

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Posted Jun 19, 2004 @ 6:00 AM

John said something to the effect that he was like that in real life, which is why the producers chose him. He was unapologetic about it- very comfortable with himself.
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#16

funsfun

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Posted Dec 25, 2004 @ 3:11 PM

PBS here locally is showing this in a marathon today.
I had forgotten how whiny the servants were!

I mean, I understand that the work was VERY hard for someone of the 21st century. Yet they did not seem to take the historical role-playing aspect of this seriously.

I really wonder what someone like the ex-scullery maid(s) thought they would be doing and/or experiencing.

I really liked that Sir John tried to stay close to his role as a landowner of the period. Sure, it would have been nice if everybody played at their role while still adhering to 21st century ways.

But it would not have been accurate. And really, what was the point of participating in this exercise if all you wanted to do was just wear the clothes and still act like a 21st century person?

It also showed me, like 1900 House, how absolutely difficult it would have been to live in such a rigid society.
Except for Sir John, at the very top of the hierarchical pyramid, everybody else was bound in such a way that if you didn't like your role you were pretty much screwed.

Because to be out of step with your role meant being out of step with society. You would have nothing.
This seemed true for rich and poor. You were forced into line and couldn't do anything about it.
That's really scary from my 21st century perspective.

In other words, a great series!
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#17

Ramona Q

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Posted Mar 24, 2005 @ 10:27 AM

Upon rewatching of this, I realized I had forgotten how annoying the tutor was. Good Lord.

I sympathized with the tutor's not having anyone in the house he could speak with freely. Sure, he misinterpreted the reasons for his isolation from the servants and the family, but it's not like he could have become friendly with either group. That would be a hard situation to be in.

I had forgotten how whiny the servants were!

I loved the servants whiny-ness. It clearly sucks to be in service jobs. But I liked how, by and large, they bonded as a group and carried off the project. They may have complained, but at least they did their jobs and stuck to their roles (ahem, Colonial House).
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#18

lavenderbrown

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Posted May 23, 2005 @ 9:58 PM

I was home sick today, and since my PBS station is re-airing Colonial House, I felt the need to watch my tapes of Manor House, which is in my opinion the best House series so far, entertainment-wise, and on the superficial eye candy level too!

My goodness Rob and Charlie... *sigh* The Footmen!!! Kenny and Tristan were ok too, but oh gah those footmen were so hot! And hilarious! Charlie making fun of the first scullery maid "Shut up about your boyfriend. Shut up about your boring boyfriend!" And then Rob when he was pissed off at the ever-snobby family, "Jonty's little girly laugh". Oh man those guys were awesome! And Charlie looks like a grown-up Jamie Bell, which is a good thing ;)

I never noticed just how snobby the family actually is until now. The aunt was the only one who didn't strike me as stuck up, and I felt bad for her. You can give Guy the little kid a break, but my gawd "Jonty" (perfect example of a stereotypical British sissy boy), Sir John and Lady Whatever-her-name-is. They got a little too wrapped up in their roles! I mean they didn't really know what to say in front of the servants, but their diary statements were also shockingly snobby. The servants had it harder, but they also had way more fun.

The tutor and the chef were insane... I would not have wanted to cross paths with them. Antonia was hilarious, and I liked the other younger maids. Edgar the butler got a bit wrapped up in the role, but you honestly felt sorry for him when he felt betrayed by Charlie, his favorite servant, and he seemed like an old-fashioned, but overall nice person.

I love the House shows (Regency House Party and 1940s House are my other favorites), but what is so tantalizing (gotta love that word) about them is that they only show a few episodes when they have months worth of footage! I want to see more!!! More Charlie and Rob being hot, more of the servants, more about their lives after the show... just more of everything!
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#19

purplefishy

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Posted May 23, 2005 @ 10:13 PM

I have to agree with you that MH was and still is my favorite house series ever. Even after watching Frontier House and Colonial House. There was just something about the mixture of people that they got precisely right.
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#20

Ariel

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Posted May 26, 2005 @ 5:27 AM

I really wonder what someone like the ex-scullery maid(s) thought they would be doing and/or experiencing.


Yeah, especially the first one! "Mum's always done everything for me!" And you signed on for this...why? That said, however, I wonder if anyone from this century is capable of doing that kind of work without a long adjustment period. I mean, scrubbing with borax? Sweeping and dusting while wearing a corset? I've been a maid, in the 1990s, and I couldn't do that!

Which is something that I think both the downstairs staff in MH and the family in 1900 House failed to understand---you just can't get things clean to 21st century standards with early 20th century equipment. In those days, people didn't know from germs; they just wanted to keep ahead of the dust.

The women's clothes were really rather dull. I guess because they were authentic, not movie or stage costumes.

And say what you will about the tutor, but OMG was he hot. And I feel bad for the housekeeper, but she really had some unrealistic expectations. She told the camera that she thought she'd be friends with the Lord and Lady? Not gonna happen.

Also, because they had such a mixture of people who were all doing their own job (instead of trying to do the same thing- like a bunch of people chopping wood or something of that nature), and sometimes working at cross-purposes, it made for more drama.


Word.
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#21

slanderous

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Posted Jun 8, 2005 @ 3:00 PM

I joined Netflix just so I could rewatch this series. I had such fond feelings for the socialist labor organizers when they showed up on their bicycles and banners, because I absolutely hated the family -- and I still do, the second time around. Workers of the world, unite!

I have to mute the television whenever Sir John deigns to speak to the camera and honestly, I think he wasn't merely playing a role. He seemed to truly believe he deserved to be waited upon. A more thoughtful or compassionate person in his place could have used the opportunity to reexamine or reevaluate the historical past against the historical present (as his sister-in-law did), but instead he simply found the experience of being a "lord" to fit his odious personality.

But yes, the male servants are cute!

Edited by slanderous, Jun 8, 2005 @ 3:31 PM.

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#22

Larkin411

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Posted Jun 16, 2005 @ 9:34 PM

Here are some interviews with the cast. Sir John sounds like he was being himself throughout the program. It's pretty funny to read the stuff Kenny says about him. Priceless.


Edited to add my favorite part of the chat with Kenny and the producer/director Caroline Ross Pirie:

Marysville, Ohio: Ken: In yesterday's discussion, John said that "We were actaully grateful and fond of the staff, though not reciprocated." Did you ever feel that the family did appreciate you? If the roles were reversed, do you think you would have played the "master" role more or less authentically than John did?

Kenny Skelton and Caroline Ross Pirie: Kenny: Personally, I think he was grateful of having his backside wiped, which in no way meant he was grateful to spend time in the house with us. That's a really important distinction. He'd rather have had us gagged for the duration.

I just couldn't do it, I'd feel rotten being upstairs.

Caroline: A very shrewd observation.


Edited by Larkin411, Jun 16, 2005 @ 9:38 PM.

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#23

slanderous

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Posted Jun 16, 2005 @ 10:24 PM

Kenny was priceless. His running commentary throughout the series, and also in the DVD special feature "diaries," cracked me up. With regard to that interview, I like how the producer agrees with him on the subject of "Sir John"!
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#24

Feberin

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Posted Jul 30, 2005 @ 2:46 PM

I love Manor House, its so much better then the other House shows and while some people slip up on their roles mostly they keep to them. And while the people complained they did what they were asked to do and I think even in 1904 the servants would have found the work dififcult.

I didn't like the tutor he just seemed to feel that he deserved so much more. And I understand it wouldn't have been suitable for him to befriend the lower servants but I'm sure he could have spent time with Morrison or one of the other upper level servants. And he seemed like he went out of his way to be difficult and cause more problems for the servants, that really bothered me.
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#25

emersende

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Posted Oct 15, 2007 @ 7:09 PM

I got this at the library- it's three videos, and I put off watching the last video because I didn't want it to end! I'm watching the last episode now. It's a wonderful show, one of the best "House" shows I've seen so far (I've also seen Colonial House, 1940s House and the first half of Frontier House), and Lady Oliff-Cooper's clothing is beautiful. And the comments on the era are fascinating. The whole era was like the French Court of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette- if WWI hadn't ended it, it would have collapsed in on itself.

I was expecting far worse from Lord Oliff-Cooper, I'd heard horrible things about him and I thought he'd be insulting people to their faces! Having to turn off the sound when he was on wasn't quite as horrible as I'd expected.

Lady Oliff-Cooper was just hilariously clueless. In real life she was an emergency room doctor, on the show she gives sachets to patients, and she thinks she's like Princess Diana? She did nothing! Her sister had a much clearer understanding of the ridiculousness of the situation. I loved it that she waved goodbye to the family at the end and then jumped into her little red convertible and drove away. On the website I read that she went in to see the servants while wearing her modern clothing before she left and they were all finally able to meet as equals.

I did like Johnty for his awareness of the situation. And, sue me, I loved Guy's little-kid snobbishness. He was just totally uncensored. Even admitting that if he inherited Manderston if his older brother was killed in the war, he'd feel bad, but not so bad that he wouldn't enjoy himself.

I'm going to cry at the end, I just know it!

One thing that fascinated me was how well it illustrated the class system that George Orwell grew up with (he was born in 1905). He wrote a lot about it in "Such, Such Were the Joys" and another essay on boy's weeklies, and in his book The Road to Wigan Pier. Orwell hated the class system and actively worked to rid himself of his "lower-upper-middle class" attitudes but I had no idea what it was really like, or how pervasive it was. I'm working on a novel set just after WWII in England, and this was incredibly eye-opening for the character and behavior of some of the older characters.

And . . . it's the end. And I'm crying. Just a little.

I'm glad that many of the people stayed friends and have stayed in touch.
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#26

Circus Poodle

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Posted Oct 15, 2007 @ 10:45 PM

Nice post, emersende! I too loved Manor House. I felt it was the best of all the House series.

It bugs me no end when in these types of re-enactments, someone refuses to follow the rules. That's one thing on a show like Wife Swap, where it's all pretty much phony anyway. But a show like this which depends upon verisimilitude, is lost without its role playing accuracy. As much as is possible, each person should be bound to his or her role during filming.

I realise the scullery maid job was difficult, but if they didn't want to play they should not have signed up. I guess all felt they'd be in the big house, not cleaning out the chamber pots. But still...that was the risk they took applying. Maybe the producers could've found someone already in an equally disgusting or difficult job, who could handle it psychologically and physically. Don't cull the scullery maids from the 'wanna be on tv' pool.

Other than that, though, everyone really toed the line (well, the pair who kept canoodling rather than working, would've been fired without references, but let's pretend no one knew). I liked that the Lord and Lady felt entitled. Isn't that how it would've been? A nice companion piece to this documentary/reality series, emersende, is Gosford Park. It may be a film, but the writer worked from memories his relatives had shared. They had been landowners in homes such as these.

So, dry the tears and rent Gosford Park. Listen to the scriptwriter's commentary track. It isn't over quite yet. :-)
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#27

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Posted Oct 16, 2007 @ 11:07 PM

Just wanted to chime in on the Manor House love! This is my all-time favorite of the "House" programs. It managed to be educational, beautiful, and entertaining in terms of the personalities cast: The stern, but lovable butler Mr Edgar, the gaseous and tempermental French chef Mr. Dubiard, the flamingly gay tutor Raj Singh, the hot, sarcastic footmen Rob and Charlie. *sigh* Good times.
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#28

bicker

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Posted Oct 27, 2007 @ 4:24 PM

Are there any other series planned, in the same vein as Manor House, Frontier House, 1890s House, etc.?
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#29

Anastasia169

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Posted Apr 7, 2008 @ 1:44 PM

I have been watching Manor House via Netflix and hope that someone else will chime in if I bring the thread up to the top. I love this show - even better than 1940s House. The French Chef is sooo on target and I loved how he sheepishly confessed to the camera that the real point, other than the cooking challenge for him, was to keep from poisoning the family! Imagine the most primitive refridgeration and unplucked gamebirds sitting around for three days; I wouldn't want to eat it, but the family had no idea because the were so firmly entrenched upstairs.

I have mixed feelings about the scullery maids. On the one hand, the work was horrifically hard, but on the other, what did you expect. I read a great social history of the Victorian house that gave a summary of every room's uses and how they were maintained. It was fascinating. Trust me when I tell you, you dont want to ever do laundry in the Victorian era. Which reminds me - where was the laundry maid in Manor House? I do think I could have managed the scullery maid job at 18 or 19, but only when young and strong and I would have liked to know (as these people do) that there is an end in sight. What must their lives have been like?

It makes you understand the real social revolutions of the twentieth century and what our modern conveniences really give us even though they have a high cost envbironmentally. Thought provoking show - hope someone else wants to discuss it.
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#30

Tom Cantell

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Posted Apr 10, 2008 @ 2:06 PM

I have mixed feelings about the scullery maids. On the one hand, the work was horrifically hard, but on the other, what did you expect.


I think there's nothing in today's society to prepare a person for the work of a scullery maid. I can imagine being all hopped up to be a part of something like this only to have the crushing reality send me sniveling back home.

Seriously: I'd totally snivel.

I was alarmed with how easily and eagerly Lady Oliff-Cooper could abdicate any sense of power. And yeah, it's for the show and she had to -- but going from an emergency room doctor to being a pampered pet seemed too emotionally easy for her. The struggles her sister had were much more compelling for me to watch.

Also, even though the tutor sort of creeped me out, I also love that, on the night he was supposed to babysit Guy through dinner, he found other plans outside the house.

(I think I liked anything that gave Mr. Edgar agita.)
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