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Hugh Edgar, a retired architect, was a true `method actor'. He didn't just
act the Butler, he became the butler. Some of the younger staff seemed
unwilling to accept everything they had signed up to. Even the Master of
the House wanted to bring in the 21st century if it made him even more
comfortable. That made the series more interesting. Not just a glimpse
into history but a look at how self-centred we and the younger generation
Edgar relaxed his mask only for one scene on the last day, adding to its humour and showing the series' raison d'être.
An off-putting title, but a fascinating and unmissable series.
This is one of the most fascinating programs I have ever seen in my life! I've always wanted to go back in time and see what it was really like to be there. This program had so much to offer, both as entertainment and education and seeing how people of different "classes" interact with one another. It should be required watching for high schoolers and college history and psychology students. I've seen it four times already and will watch it many more times. I rated it ten on a scale of 1 - 10.
You don't see so much quality films on television, but this is certainly one of them. A success formula, take people from the 21th century and rules from a 1904 time and bring them together. The results are "The Edwardian Country House". It must have been an amazing adventure for the participants,live in that old country house and live by the rules of that age. You can see what the staff has to do every day from 6 AM until 11 PM and what the different tasks are witch the staff has to carry out. More and more you will feel more sympathy for the staff and in the last episode it's very emotional if everybody leaves again to pick up there 21th lives. You can see at the end of the film, that they are all going to meet again (the staff), what an amazing experience that must be. Unfortunately things like this aren't been organized in Belgium, otherwise I would join this project without thinking.
I have never watched any of the crop of "reality" tv shows because none of
them seem realistic, or worth watching. This show (called Manor House on
PBS in the US) was some of the more entertaining 6 hours of TV I've seen
a while. The idea is to try and take modern people and have them live as
they did in the start of the 20th century - the family in the house, and
their servants. Since they didn't really want to replace people
some of the strict rules of conduct of that period were not as enforced as
strongly as they would have been - ie. people didn't get sacked when they
The show gave an insight as to how appreciative the "servants" are of the way society changed in the 20th century...especially two of the cast members who had relatives who were in service like this.
My only real complaint was that they seemed to repeat things from episode to episode to make sure you understood something. Watching the whole thing over three nights made this redundant commentary annoying. I would have prefered to have seen more interaction between the family and the head servants, and between the servants than the constant voice over about the duties and shots of people working.
Watching this also changes the way you watch Gosford Park.
Reality TV is not for me or so I used to think after not being able to
endure more than five minutes of American Idol or Bachelor or Survivor.
Until I chanced upon "Manor House" on PBS while channel surfing Sunday
afternoon -- the first episode was just beginning -- and was hooked for
hours as they showed the entire series.
This is brilliant television, I've never seen anything like it. Not only was it extremely interesting and informative, it was great fun. The characters were so genuine. Most played their parts perfectly. Loved Sir John, the born aristocrat, who one week into the thing talks about the "clarity of the system... the poor will always be with us... Jesus said so, he couldn't be wrong". This is genuine, matchless stuff! The Lady talking about the undergarments of the time, shyly, a little naughtily, and wasn't her use of euphemisms just perfect? Also the butler, another genuine chap.
That said, I would have loved to see: (1) Less of the reality-TV-like romance (2) More of the cook in general, and more of his argument with Sir John (3) Less and more of the tutor - most scenes he was in were boring, but OTOH his homosexuality which would be obvious even in 1900 was not addressed or even mentioned (4) More information about the actors' real lives.
In any case despite its flaws, it's really light years better than your average reality TV. Forget Survivor, this is the real thing.
In 2001, a group of volunteers entered a grand Scottish estate and
assumed the roles of masters and servants; they lived in complete
compliance with 1905 rules and standards for three months. The family
that became the Lord and Lady of the house had an unimagined glimpse
into a world of power and luxury while the downstairs folk experienced
the depths of despair as marginalized servants.
This was the best of the excellent "House" reality series; its success was due to the dedication of those in the cast whose eyes were opened to the perks and horrors of strict Edwardian life. We watch as the master's family pursues the ease of the very wealthy, riding, entertaining, and being coddled and pampered. The servants, however, endure backbreaking and soul-killing labor, under the watchful eye of the superb butler. Even their personal conversations were limited and structured by strict etiquette.
I was completely engrossed as the cast dealt with loneliness, forged friendships, and overcame adversity without the aid of modern conveniences; I felt their anxiety under pressure, relief at the simplest pleasure, and I sobbed at their misery. The last day was especially moving as each participant appeared in modern clothes for the first time and took their happy, or in some cases, very sad farewell of the house.
Highly recommended for history fans.
As far as reality TV goes, this is tops. I loved the first couple
of survivor, and this blows them away. I'm an American, and as such, I
this program as Manor House. My father received this series as a
gift, and I wanted to watch all three discs back to back.
There were some week episodes in the middle but overall this was the most worthwhile program I've seen in a long time. The characters were fantastic. Kenny the hall boy was hilarious, Monsieur Dubiard was the quintessential French chef, and Sir John was absolutely despicable. Perhaps best of all was Mr. Edgar. He was so real as an Edwardian butler it felt like they lifted him right out of the time period.
As far as the accusation that the program might has been scripted, I don't believe it for a second. I do however believe that they did a brilliant job with casting. The interplay between characters was almost unbelievably dynamic. While I don't think that Kenny the hall boy would have stayed employed in 1905 I have to give him a hand for sticking it out and lasting through the entire program. The first couple scullery maids on the other hand were incredibly ill prepared for there responsibilities. I suspect the directors hoped they would spice up the show, but instead they just quit.
Again, I can't say enough good things about this show, and would characterize it as a must watch for anyone with any wits. While I can't give it a 10 (reserved for the godfather and the like) I have to give it a high 9. While it may never be a huge hit, it will always be a hit with me.
I really think this was a neat little special. Being on the poor side, I could really identify with the suspicion of the downstairs staff towards the upstairs family. I found the patriarch to be disdainful and I really could see the pain in the matriarch's homely sister. I'd like to speculate that most of society today is more kin to the upstairs family, but I could definetely see the rewards that came as being part of the downstairs staff; there wasn't time for many of today's ills: depression, boredom, isolation, et al. The most intriguing player was the first butler's aide, Charlie Clay. By God, he's the most handsome man I've seen since Tom Cruise in Losin' It. Will we see more him? Overall, 9 stars.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I only got in on the show during the middle, but loved it, watched every week. I love the past and history, so this show has perfect for me. I can't wait to buy the DVD set. IT's A must own!!! I think Hugh Edgar is the nicest real kind and lenient, Anna Olliff-Cooper's sister (Avril Anson) goes nuts because of the isolation and must leave the show for a while, and John Olliff-Cooper is a snob.Their son Guy Olliff-Cooper (the youngest son) enjoys playing with the downstairs servants. Ken Skelton gets a girlfriend (Rebecca Smith). The cook (Denis Dubiard) is very blunt. get the DVD for the rest. Hope PBS gets or creates another show like this. excellent show, period!
"Manor House," as it was called in the U.S., is without a doubt the
smartest, classiest, best reality show ever produced. You may think that's
not hard -- and you'd be right -- but I was amazed at how well-done this
It was interesting, educational, dramatic and funny. How many shows can you say that about? The interactions between the servants and the family were just fascinating. Some of the people -- especially Mr. Edgar, the butler -- were absolutely amazing in their sincere efforts to play their roles properly.
The show is now available on DVD. If you enjoy good reality TV (such as PBS' earlier show "The 1900 House"), rent it. You won't be sorry.
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