Berkeley Square (TV Mini-Series 1998– ) Poster

(1998– )

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aimless-4616 June 2006
A highly recommended entry in the BBC mini-series genre, "Berkeley Square" holds its own with "Pride and Prejudice," "The Pallisers" and "Upstairs, Downstairs". Lovers of Victorian/ Edwardian-era costume dramas will especially enjoy it. Although it lacks the budget and polish of "The Grand", "Brideshead Revisited", and "Duchess of Duke Street" (and the plot intricacies of "Upstairs- Downstairs") it's friendship theme among the three main characters and its mood of subtle nuance more than compensate.

I must confess a favorable bias as I was fond of taking my lunch in mid-1970's Berkeley Square during my time in London and have very pleasant associations with the location. It is a real square with houses on all sides of a small park.

The mini-series takes place in 1902, a Victorian to Edwardian transitional time begun with the coronation of the new King. Although class differences are a feature of the program the real focus is on three young nannies/nursery-maids just beginning work for three prominent families on the square. This is the strength of the series as the three television actresses are perfectly cast physically for the compare and contrast dynamic that pulls the three parallel story lines together.

Mattie (Clare Wilkie) is the only Londoner, a no-nonsense East Ender who has already worked her way up the domestic career ladder. Her brother calls her Sarge because she has always been controlling. The Sinjin family is the most challenging of the three households, the cook and head housekeeper being politically savvy, the nursery maid Pringle being resentful, and Mrs. Sinjin carrying on a turgid flirtation with a slimy officer. This moronic romance is the worst aspect of the entire series. Fortunately Mattie has her own action going with the new footman, their relationship has a high-energy mentally combative quality that holds your interest.

Hannah (Victoria Smurfit) just moved from Yorkshire with her baby following the death of her upper class lover. Smurfit is the reason I began watching the series, having really enjoyed her nicely over-the-top performance in "Bulletproof Monk". While her Polish landlady minds the baby Hannah lives-in at the Hutchinson household and takes care of young Bertie (Adam Hayes). Their touching scenes together are terrific, the best segments in the series. Since the directing of the other child actors is not especially good, it is likely that Smurfit was responsible for getting such a perfect performance from young Hayes. Her regal look (she reminds me of Fay Masterson) is an asset in this role, as she must convincingly face off against upper class adversaries and she allows just the right amount of hidden strength to surface in these confrontations.

Lydia (Tabitha Wady) is a horse-faced country girl who moved to London to escape the trap of the poor farmer. She is there to assist an elderly nanny who first feels threatened but eventually comes to appreciate Lydia's earthy openness, even her immature personality. Once secure in her new household Lydia must confront the reality of being a homely girl with little sincere attentions from men.

"Berkeley Square" has just 10 episodes of about 50 minutes. Unlike "The Prisoner" it appears that they intended to produce more and unlike "Freaks and Geeks" they did not have adequate advance notice of the early termination. Although it ends at an obvious season break point (so major stuff is resolved), there are some loose ends remaining after the last episode. This is not all bad, they stopped before they ran out of ideas and the loose ends make for interesting speculation.

The DVD package is minimalist, without any useful special features. The marginal quality of the audio tracks cry out for captions although I don't envy someone trying to transcribe the least audible of this stuff.

Bottom line it is a very entertaining series with fast sequencing and nice performances (especially from Smurfit-watch for the scene where they picnic in the country and Lydia becomes jealous of Hannah-Lydia insults her and the reaction shots of Hannah's exasperation are priceless).

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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I loved it....but I want more!!!!
ishy7126 March 2003
I happened across this show at the library and thought it looked interesting. It was wonderful. Love and laughter. Tears and heartbreak. Intrigue and deception. Life and death.

When I finished that last episode...I was dumbfounded. Is that it? The BBC is just going to leave me hanging like that? It didn't end. Does Ned make it home? How is Tom fairing in school? Will he ever forgive Mattie? Will Cpt. Mason figure out Mrs. St. John is carrying his child? Will he care? Will Isabel figure out what a scoundrel he is before she marries him? What about Lydia and Mr. Fowler; Hannah and Jack? Will Hugh get back in the good graces of his father? Will Mrs. Simmons come forward and cause more problems?

When I finished episode 10, I immediately jumped on the net to see if there was more. Nope. That's it....SIGH!!!!

I still highly recommend watching it. Once I started watching it, I couldn't stop. Maybe I'll send some emails to the BBC and ask them if they plan to do another mini-series:-)
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Why Berkeley Square Was Cut Short
Lyndahayes-114 January 2007
Yes it was an excellent series. Unfortunately, it's broadcast coincided with the World Cup Football here in the UK and it's time slot was constantly being shunted around the schedule to make way for all of the games. Sometimes it was shown on Saturdays, sometimes Tuesdays or Fridays - sometimes at 8pm, 9pm or 10pm or whenever it was given a little window between football matches. Consequently, the viewing figures were lower than they undoubtedly would have been and the BBC thought it was because not enough people wanted to watch it! WE COULDN'T EVEN FIND OUT WHEN IT WAS ON!!! So the BBC would not allow a second series! It was a magical costume drama. Everyone who sees it wants to know 'how it ends'... We will have to imagine it for ourselves. Another brilliant decision from the BBC in their infinite wisdom... To cut it short after all the wonderful work from everyone involved in the production, if I were any one of them or the director or creator of Berkeley Square; that would eat away at my heart big time.
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An incredible mini series!
moonbeam-129 June 2002
I am a great fan of period piece mini series in general and especially ones produced by the BBC. Since purchasing this mini series I've watched it numerous times and highly recommend it. The storyline pulls you in and keeps you there. My only objection to this production is that it seems to end too abruptly and leaves you feeling like there should be more, more, more. I hope they continue the story someday soon.
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A top drawer BBC Mini Series!
hilandgeo17 November 2001
One of the best series from the great BBC. The characters, costumes and settings were all perfect. Now, if only they would make a follow up to it as there were many plot lines that could have continued.
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Re mini series Berkeley Square
sara_case13 July 2006
I just want to say I loved the mini series "Berkeley Square" and I hope BBC will make a Berkeley Square II/sequel. This was definitely a classic and I would compare it with Anne of Avonlea, Little Women,or my favorite mini-series, Pride and Prejudice. Berkeley Square is worth watching over and over again. This British mini-series has 10-episodes and will keep you captivated from beginning to end, and it has a delightful script and wonderfully believable characters but most of all the fact that it had values and morals which are rare in a film today, but which I look for in a film. The acting was superior, and I felt I became caught up in the moment of each episode. The fact that it takes place in London and also there's like 3 or 4 plots going at all times which kept you on the edge of your seat. I thought it was entertaining and I couldn't wait to watch the next episode. If there's anyone I can write to suggest a sequel please let me know. I'm fascinates with the life and times/history of any English movie.
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Edwardian soap opera
George Parker11 March 2005
"Berkeley Square" is an Edwardian period TV 10x50 minute miniseries which examines the lives of three young women, all nursery maids for wealthy families in London's Berkeley Square. The series revolves around the trio of neighboring young women, their nannies and associated co-staff (butlers, footmen, etc.) and the members of the families which employ them. Themes include murder, illicit affairs, affairs of the heart, a baby switching, and a whole lot of nursemaid issues with an ample assortment of side plots all very nicely woven together. This multiplicity of stories follows a nice arc building ample depth into the characters, developing plenty of tension on a range of levels, and sorting everything out, albeit rather quickly, such that all is well at the end with a only couple of unhappy exceptions. "Berkeley Square" is very much a soap opera (circa 1902) as it focuses on women and women's issues with restrained melodrama though it is much more thoughtfully produced than the usual commercial soap. Lacking the mood and polish of a "Brideshead Revisited" with some of the intricacies of an "Upstairs-Downstairs", this series has some obvious production deficits, though they are easily overlooked. All in all, "Berkeley Square" is an acceptable TV product which should make for a pleasant watch for women, lovers of soaps, and others into early 20th century English drama. Note - the DVD I watched had no CC's or subtitles making some of the dialogue difficult to understand. (B)
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Soapish Edwardian Drama!
Syl28 June 2013
The British series crossed the line in one of the later episodes into soap opera plot lines. The three nannies are well-played and are unique and different. Mattie is the solid, moral nanny. She must deal with the manipulative Mrs. McCluskey (played excellently by Kate Williams in this role). It's interesting to see how the households in upscale Berkeley Square run quite differently. The townhouses are really organized by the staff. Relationships between staff and employer is pretty well looked down upon by the upscale upper classes. The families are uniquely different. Hannah has a history and baggage. She is far more complicated and intriguing than the other two nannies. She must deal with Nanny Simmons (well played b Ruth Sheen). Then there is Lydia who comes from a small farming village and must work beside Nanny Collins (played wonderfully by Rosemary Leach). The cast is first rate but the writing is very melodramatic. The art direction and costumes are first rate.
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what a way to spend 10 hours
baley25 July 1999
This mini-series is wonderful all around, from the actors to the plots in each installment. It is a joy to experience and should not be missed by anyone. It accurately tells the story of the three women right down to their clothing. History and culture from the early 1900's comes alive and entertains the viewers. Never a dull moment. In two words, the mini-series is great fun!
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I can't believe the BBC didn't make more episodes!!
sgormley28 January 2000
This 10-part series was just gripping! I set my VCR up to tape it (it came on at 10:00 p.m.) and ended up watching it "live" anyway just to see what was going to happen (and was exhausted at work the day after!!)
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Well done!
JeffandAllyson14 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Really love the characters in these movies. Family and friends have watched them with us and they all have their favorites. Only one regret after watching these movies. We want more Where are the sequels? A question we are all asking? We guess it is a bit late to be asking this considering the movies were made in 1998 Maggie was a great character Loved Nick Did they ever find the truth about the baby? Did Mrs. ? the Polish, Jewish women really get executed?? The world may never know.
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Happy to see our show enjoyed by so many! Little more info...
Suzanna V17 April 2017
As the co-creator of Berkeley Square, it's very exciting to see all the great reviews. Thank you for all your kind words. I loved coming up with the idea and we had a great time making the series.

I do want to set the record straight on two points: Lyndahayes-1 commented that the broadcast dates were chopped and changed at the Controller's whim. That's certainly true and it drove us absolutely insane.Yet amazingly, in spite of this vicious rescheduling, the ratings were excellent, I believe they were consistently above a 30% market share, which is pretty bloody amazing. (Thank you, Lyndahayes-1 and everyone else, for sticking with us as best you couid!)

So why wasn't the series picked up for another season? Debbie Cook and I had some great stories in the works and Victoria Smurfit and the other leads did a remarkable job. However, the BBC is a beast unto itself and often casts aside common sense. A show that got terrific reviews across the board and which despite all the odds, was a great success? Shall we commission a second season? Hmmm...

Perhaps it's somewhat different now, but at the time it was possible for a head of department to more or less independently make such a decision, without little regard to the show's quality or ratings. There were a lot of voices calling for a second season as well. Thank God the BBC isn't an American network and doesn't have to be so entirely ratings-driven, but still...

As I recall, we got a new head of series around this time. Being inherited (for show and staff) is always tricky, new people want to put their own stamp on things. Perhaps it didn't feel masculine enough for him...who knows?

But it makes me very happy that people are still enjoying the show. Thank you!
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What a great series...I had never heard of this drama.
snowden-561227 January 2017
I came across this drama on you tube when I was looking for something else. I thought it sounded interesting so I gave it a go. Well I was spell-bound right away and watched all episodes over 2 days while on Xmas holidays. It is fantastic but has left me looking for more. I searched and could not find more episodes...only 10 made. If it had been shown at a prime slot it would have been a huge success but as it was shown in-between world cup football matches it was overlooked by the majority of the general public at that time. What a shame that it did not continue as there was plenty more drama to be had. Loads of story lines to complete.
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Very tense drama, lots of situations with cast
ctyankee15 July 2015
This is the first time I watched Berkeley Square. I found it kind of confusing and somewhat depressing. Women that need jobs get hired by people who have other employees that are jealous of new people coming in, and women that have money treat their staff rotten. The women that need jobs are from poor families, one has a baby and needs a job badly.

There is a lot going on in this episode. It jumps from one person to the next I believe to introduce you to the characters which are many. A man that fist fights for money, a rich woman who treats her husband cold.

Lots of stress in this episode. It was only a half hour into 48 min. and I was emotionally tired I felt like I watched it for 2 hours. You can watch it for free on Youtube or download it. There are plenty of episodes to watch.

I think I like it but I have to recover first.
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Who killed Charlie?
urbisoler-13 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Excellent - as far as it goes. It, OBVIOUSLY, doesn't go far enough. After first adapting my ear to the dialects I could follow the plot. However, the plot ends abruptly. It appears that a second season of this story was originally planned and then scrapped. May we inquire why? Other viewers have asked pertinent questions. I can only add - who killed Charlie? And, perhaps, his younger sister? Was it Bertie? Or his former Nanny? Was it SIDS, an unheard of designation in that era? After Nanny specifically requests that Bertie tell the absolute truth to the authorities, he sticks to the fantasy agreed to earlier in the tale. There are five reasons why I have given this film a low rating of 5. It needs plot endings. Whatever happened to who, what, where, when and why?
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Enjoyable "Upstairs, Downstairs" Like Tale
VReviews13 August 2010
"Berkeley Square" is an Edwardian period piece with an "Upstairs, Downstairs" flavor to it.

London's Berkeley Square of the 1800's (as it still is today) was a genteel residential area situated around a central neighborhood park. Here is where upper class families and their servants lived their lives with what turns out to be very little privacy. "Berkeley Square" centers around three nannies and the difficult task of living in residence, and maintaining some semblance of a personal life. Unfortunately for the nannies, their personal lives often intersect disastrously with that of their wealthy employers.

The casting and acting is quite good. The Edwardian fashions reflect the period perfectly, and the ups and downs of the nannies relationships illustrate the class driven society, it's rules, and it's casualties for both the genteel and working class. An enjoyable production, with the only drawback being that the series was canceled; leaving the last episode hastily packaged up leaving plot lines dangling, and a desire for more that can't be satisfied.
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I Will Wither Away Without A Continuation
jzappa25 September 2008
Lydia Weston, Hannah Randall and Matty Wickham arrive in Berkeley Square as nannies for their new employers. Berkeley Square begins in a Scorsesean manner. Its first episode, not at all like many other English expositions, is kept at a crisp pace with ambiance changing distinctly from one shot to another. It would rather slow down in the middle, but that slow period is not so slow as it is leisurely, aligning itself with the scope it is allowed to magnify the lives and character developments by at least three times the amount it could have were it not an original mini-series and rather a feature film. It is a great story to be told in a visual medium, on account of its locale, its ensemble potential and the effects of its episodic nature, yet a two- or three-hour movie would hardly fulfill the scope and measure of it.

One can only love dearly these women. They each are distinctively different from each other, poles apart even, and there is an air of pressure released from the screen when we grow to care desperately about one, who arrives in London with her illegitimate baby after she is forced to flee Yorkshire by her angry neighbors, and are delivered into the next scene and it involves an assertive young selfhood-concerned recently hired nanny, whose life is only beginning to ground the roots of such a degree of dilemma. But that grows to be the director's leg up in augmenting our emotional involvement to a sizable enhancement.

Being a miniseries, we can almost be promised top-notch acting, the actors having a considerably larger amount of time to immerse themselves in their roles, and in Berkeley Square, whether or not that is the case, that is fortunately almost irrelevant due to this being the most English production I have seen in a very long time. And so, the technical film-making is always temperate in the degree to which it draws attention to any existence behind the camera, if perceptible at all, the production design is not only realistic but entirely authentic, and the acting is first-class. All of it. Playing the Polish landlady of the former of the recent nanny I mentioned is an actress named Etela Pardo, who unjustly became nothing more than a completely unknown character actress for television. In consideration of the entire first- rate cast, Etela Pardo deserves special recognition for her heartbreaking powerhouse performance.

Lydia Weston is the young Devon farm girl, who has surprisingly been hired to replace the aging Nanny, in the London house of an Earl and Countess, whose social circle includes an upper-crust couple of utterly selfish social climbers whose problems are all self-inflicted and shallow. We care a great deal about peripheral characters, and love, hate and understand all of them. Berkeley Square has enough time for colossal mood swings. There is almost unbearable tragedy, and there is farce. Berkeley Square must not merely be judged by its seemingly scarce target audience who admires BBC miniseries about the snootiest high society of historical England. It must be seen for its story, a beautiful, cataclysmal, epic, sweeping capsule of a microcosm of everything in life we know and understand.
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Soapy, soapy, Victorian soap
NonJeNeRegretteRien8 February 2004
This miniseries takes place in Victorian England during 1902. While the costumes and setting were interesting, the plot line was pure soap opera. The various character moral decisions and plot lines by no means accurately reflect the end of the Victorian era. The series starts out somewhat slowly, but completely manages to jump the shark in the episode "When the Bough Breaks". For a better BBC miniseries in just about every way check out the Duchess of Duke series. The writing is far superior.
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