4 April 1997
In 1920, John Bannerman and his wife Sarah open the Grand, a lavish hotel in Manchester. However they soon realize that the hotel is in dire financial straits, as the book-keeper committed suicide after embezzling large sums of money. To help out, John's brother Marcus, a business-man, is brought in as a third partner to raise money. He has a cynical if perpetual girl-friend, Ruth Manning, but he also has a history with Sarah, which he is keen to rekindle if he is to save the Grand.
11 April 1997
Whilst Sarah feels under-mined by Marcus's cocky attitude,she is aware that he is the Grand's best hope for survival as he is an ideas man. He sells off some slum dwellings he owns but his proposal that the resident staff be made to live outside of the hotel in order to facilitate more guest rooms is vehemently opposed with the staff threatening strike action and ultimately the idea is rejected. Instead the hotel's laundry will do the washing for other hotels and institutions in the city. Janet Brady, an unmarried, pregnant ex-employee of the Grand, indirectly made homeless by Marcus's sale, comes to the hotel for work and when Sarah can only offer to recommend her to a hostel,spits in her face.
18 April 1997
The Bannermans' young son Stephen, who fought in the Great War, becomes besotted with a girl called Celia,who has expensive tastes and he steals from the hotel safe to impress her. Staff are wrongly blamed but Mr. Collins, the chief porter, discovers that it is Stephen and covers for him. Celia is recognized by a resident guest,Esmee Harkness, a retired courtesan, elderly but still attractive and not averse to a little business on the side. She befriends Monica, a young chamber-maid with aspirations and, respecting the girl's ambitions, teaches her etiquette whilst determining that Monica should not have to become a prostitute. John Bannerman's mother, discovering the source of Esmee's money, demands that she leave the Grand but Esmee turns the tables on her by revealing that the late Mr. Bannerman was a good client of hers.Marcus, feeling that it is sexist to punish prostitutes but not their male clients,demands that Esmee stay and Sarah supports him, to her husband's annoyance.
25 April 1997
Esmee's continued patronage of Monica arouses the jealousy of other maids and tempers are frayed because a bout of illness has laid several staff low, including the austere house-keeper Mrs. Harvey. Sarah steps into the breach as her replacement and tells Marcus he should respect the staff as human beings. However he teases her and accuses her of double standards for regarding Monica as acting above her station. Mr. Collins, whose son Paul was shot for cowardice in the war,is duped out of his savings by two young swindlers claiming to be collecting for a fund to enable another family whose son was shot for cowardice to legally challenge the decision. He goes to pieces and tries to burn his son's belongings. Stephen and Kate, a maid who knew Paul, calm him down and afterwards Stephen explains to Kate that some of the so-called cowards were under real duress and that she should not judge them. He and Marcus track down the thieves and get Mr. Collins' money back.
2 May 1997
As the Bannermans mark the anniversary of the premature death of their little girl Catherine, Maggie Rigby, a former school-friend of surviving daughter Adele comes to the Grand, supposedly to convalesce after an operation, though she confides in Adele that she has just had an abortion. She is selfish,mischievous and clearly troubled, annoying guests and staff alike. She gets Kate drunk, causing Esmee and Monica to cover for her. She explains to Adele that her bad conduct is due to her feeling worthless after being exploited by a man. Adele in turn feels that she is second best to her dead sister and argues with her father, although they are ultimately reconciled. With the truth out Maggie is collected from the Grand by her widowed father. Their conversation makes it clear that they have had an incestuous relationship and that he was responsible for the aborted child but Adele is too naive to understand this and envies Maggie as she leaves.
9 May 1997
John Bannerman is bitten by a stray dog and the doctor tells him he may have caught rabies. He is later pronounced to be clear but in the meanwhile he becomes reflective and tells Sarah that he did not love her when they married and only wed her for fear that Marcus might snap her up, but that now he is properly in love with her. She is annoyed and spends the night with Marcus, explaining afterwards that she only slept with him for "revenge". Marcus, on the other hand, plainly still has feelings for her and, seemingly on the rebound,next day announces his engagement to Ruth, to everyone's surprise, most of all Ruth's. He has arranged a deal with a shy young business-man James Cornell who stays at the hotel and is attracted to Monica, asking her to have dinner with him in his room. He seems genuine and, ignoring Esmee's advice to the contrary,Monica goes to bed with him. Kate is concerned for her and confides in Stephen, unaware that he is very fond of her. After a row with the frosty-faced housekeeper, Monica resigns and leaves the Grand with James as his fiancee.
16 May 1997
Ruth is annoyed that Marcus is organizing her life for her - moving her furniture into the Grand and planning the reception without her, so she asks why he is marrying her. His answer is "You'll do". Mr. Collins, to quell staff resentment of Monica's rise in the world, throws a below-stairs party. Meanwhile James returns to London alone and Monica realizes that Esmee was right in her view that he was using her. She accepts hospitality from a friend of James, Jackson Tyler, but he takes her to a bedroom and, with two others, rapes her. After the others have left she hits him on the head, killing him, and is arrested for murder. Despite the claims of a lawyer, paid by an anonymous benefactor, that she acted in self-defence, Monica is found guilty of murder.
23 May 1997
Monica is sentenced to hang and Kate accuses Esmee of being responsible for her fate. Esmee goes to visit Monica but leaves when she sees John in the cell. He was the anonymous person who paid for the lawyer and he tells Monica she will always be remembered, Next day at 8 o'clock she is executed. Marcus and Ruth's wedding goes ahead but it is a formal affair, not helped by staff animosity to the disdainful Ruth and the austere housekeeper and the shadow of Monica's death. Kate is hit hard by it and Stephen and Clive,the barman, fight over her welfare. Stephen - who is to manage a club for Marcus to dig himself out of a financial hole - is genuinely fond of Kate and tells her so, softening her attitude to him. Marcus tells Sarah he only married Ruth to appear 'respectable' and kisses her. She responds willingly. Mr. Collins sees them but says nothing.
30 January 1998
Marcus opens his club, the Manhattan, managed by Stephen, who offers Clive permanent bar-work. Ruth is left behind at the Grand with John whilst Marcus makes up to Sarah, and the club is raided, a publicity stunt arranged by Marcus. Ruth's formidable grand-mother, Mrs. Crawford, installs herself in the hotel, telling Marcus a few home truths and making arrangements for Ruth's pregnancy. Esmee gets close to Jacob Collins and he confides in her that he saw Sarah and Marcus kissing. She advises him to say nothing but he lets it slip to Sarah and is rebuked for his pains. Stephen kisses Kate but, in view of Monica's fate, she sees a relationship between them as out of the question.
6 February 1998
On a staff outing to the music-hall, chambermaid Lynne impresses when she gets up on stage and the lecherous M.C.,Harry Frindel, offers her further work. This involves her defying Mrs. Harvey and walking out of the Grand, but when she realizes that Frindel only wanted her for sex, she returns in tears and Mrs. Harvey shows a kindlier side of her nature for once and reinstates her. Will Reynolds, an old army friend of Stephen's, turns up and Stephen employs him at the club but he is very clumsy and Marcus fires him. He is injured trying to rob a customer and Stephen hides him from the police at the Grand, unwittingly involving Jacob and Esmee. Eventually, partially-recovered Will leaves the hotel so that Stephen will not be incriminated, collapsing in the street. Marcus also sacks Stephen after a row but Sarah uses her allure with her brother-in-law to get her son his job back.
13 February 1998
Kate hides her disappointment as Stephen introduces her to his fiancee, Christina Lloyd-Price, at a political function in the hotel. Left in her room by Marcus as ever,Ruth miscarries and realizes that she will probably never be able to bear the children Marcus wants. She wears padding, pays the midwife to keep visiting her as if all was still normal and makes arrangements to buy a baby from a poor woman in time for her own child's 'birth'. Sarah and John argue yet again when she and Marcus over-rule Mrs. Harvey and allow the maids to attend a sex education lecture. Worse is to come though when he sees his wife and his brother leaving a bedroom in which they have obviously had sex.
20 February 1998
There is much turmoil at the Grand hotel. The staff are upset when they learn that David Jeffries, one of the men who attacked Monica Jones, has returned to the hotel yet again. Jeffries knows he in not welcome but the room was booked for him and he has little choice. The only person who will give him more that cursory service is Fred Willets, a relatively new member of staff. He even invites Jeffries to have a pint with him but realizes too late that Fred has his own plans. John and Sarah's marriage has reached the breaking point. John cannot believe she betrayed him and is ready to chuck it all in. Both he and Sarah are surprised when Marcus offers to buy them out and become the sole owner of the Grand.
27 February 1998
With John out of the way the staff fear redundancies as Marcus considers cost-cutting measures. Madame Euphrasine, an aristocratic Russian, books into the hotel, befriending Esmee and offering Kate the permanent job as her maid. She summons Marcus to her room on business and makes advances at him, which he does not reject. Next morning she is found murdered. Marcus is suspect and Ruth will not lie for him. Despite his animosity towards his boss,Jacob - wanting justice to be done - helps the police find the real killer and Marcus shows his gratitude by keeping all the staff. Esmee is left with a priceless Faberge ornament given her by the dead woman, who was not what she seemed at all.
6 March 1998
Clive Evans visits his Dad and has some news to tell him. He's reluctant at first but slowly tells his tale which starts off with the good news that he has been promoted to a new position as assistant Head Porter. The staff are now to refer to him as Mr. Evans and he has all of the authority of being in charge of the staff when Jacob Collins is not present. His problems start with the arrival of a new guest, Mr. Villiers who is a homosexual. Clive claims to be disgusted by him but in fact is exploring his own sexuality and accepts to visit his room. The conversation with his Dad takes a strange twist, however. Jacob meanwhile has more free time on his hands and has taken to stepping out with the seamstress. Stephen Bannerman announces his engagement to Christina Lloyd-Price and invites the staff to a party on the family floor.
13 March 1998
Edward Lawrence comes to the Grand to find Esmee. Forty years ago they were deeply in love but the class system was against them - she was a lady's maid to his mother - and they were forced to part. He is now a wealthy widower, aware of her profession, and keen to marry her. She accepts but when she visits his children, who are wary of her, she is told that he is still in love with his recently-deceased wife and essentially on the rebound. He breaks down and cries. Esmee returns to the Grand and accepts an offer made to her earlier by Marcus to give proper organization of the prostitutes at the Manhattan. Ruth panics when Marcus calls a doctor to examine her and runs away to find Edith, for whose unwanted baby she is paying. Edith is late and the baby has to be induced but arrives in time for her to tell Marcus they have a son. He slaps her however for causing him to worry about the future of his child. Clive tries to get the staff to join a union after he has served at a T.U.C. conference but Jacob dissuades him, believing it would give Marcus cause to sack them.
20 March 1998
Esmee interviews girls for the club. Many pay protection to Scott, a vicious pimp who, to put her off, smashes up Esmee's room, injuring Kate when a mirror is broken. Stephen is especially concerned for Kate's welfare. Esmee is proud that her old business acumen has not left her but is genuine that the girls from the Manhattan should be safe from Scott and is shocked when Marcus tells her he has forced Scott out of the picture by burning his warehouse down. Scott tells Esmee, in Marcus's hearing that she has two children and he tells her where they are. Marcus feels she should see them but she refuses, believing it would upset them. Stephen breaks up with Christina and follows the charabanc taking the staff on a day-trip to the seaside to tell Kate that he loves her.
27 March 1998
Stephen continues to see Kate, causing some staff resentment, especially when Marcus makes her assistant housekeeper. Mrs. Harvey walks out and Kate copes well with a chaotic evening. Clive persuades Mrs. Harvey to return and Kate finally gets her to crack when she admits that Mr. Harvey has left her and she has been defrauding small sums of money to keep herself. Edith comes to the Grand and gets a job as a chamber-maid to be near her baby. Esmee is concerned that her 'girls' are at risk and so Marcus uses five rooms in the Grand for them and their clients. Jacob is appalled and also gets one over on Marcus for offending a lady guest of whom he is fond. He gets drunk and discovers Edith, whom Ruth has paid to go away, leaving the hotel. She confides in him who she really is, causing Jacob to be even more displeased with the Bannermans.
3 April 1998
Mrs. Harvey moves into the Grand to solve her money problems and discovers who Edith really is. Jacob has already told Esmee. Kate takes Stephen to see her parents but her father , who knows that the Manhattan club has prostitutes, is hostile to him. Stephen, in turn, delivers some home truths to Marcus on the morning of the christening and Marcus, a happy man because of his 'son',promises to mend his ways. Mrs. Harvey believes the christening is a sham and returns the baby to Edith but she is caught and Ruth is forced to come clean. Marcus flies into a rage but ultimately comes to realize the lengths to which Ruth has gone to please him. The christening party goes ahead and he gives a strange speech, admitting his sins, apologizing to Ruth and setting her free of him. He gives the baby back to Edith and says he plans to move on and will sell the hotel so that it can be demolished for the land. The staff are appalled and fear for their jobs. However, Esmee saves them all by buying the hotel with the proceeds of the sale of her Faberge ornament, even reinstating Fred. Stephen says goodbye to Kate, re-enlisting in the Army, where he was happiest, and so the Grand passes out of the Bannerman family forever.
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