Destined to be forever billed as 'former Three Degrees singer ' Sheila Ferguson had hoped that Land of Hope and Gloria would be her springboard into a new career in TV. Sadly, rather than begin such a career it effectively strangled it at birth. A none-too-subtle knock off of To The Manor Born [ but with none of the wit, charm or subtlety ] the plot was an ' old money' family of crusty Brits needing to find some way to supplement income. Using one of those new- fangled PR/marketing types was supposed to open the door for some culture clash comedy especially when said newcomer turned out to be not just a woman but an American and - wait for it !!- a black American at that. Wow. Hilarious,eh? If the concept was weak, and the scripts even more so then the real death knell was the casting of Ferguson in the key role [ the 'Gloria' of the title]. She was, visibly, way out of her depth in trying to carry a series.Attempts to ham up in order to compensate for her lack of acting ability simply amplified the problem and one sequence in which she had to wear shades and talk in scripted 'street jive' was toe-curlingly embarrassing as well as questionably racist.Perhaps the saddest feature of all was the frail appearance of comedy legend Joan Sanderson in what turned out to be her last role. She, at least, deserved a so much better swansong. 6 episodes were about 5 and three-quarters too many and although Sanderson's death was the official reason for the series to be quietly dropped it felt much more like a convenient face-saver. Ferguson has subsequently concentrated on stage musicals as a much more appropriate vehicle,LOHAG being her one and only TV lead. Hardly anyone remembers the series these days,which is perhaps for the best.
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