Manor House

PBS (ended 2003)


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Manor House

Show Summary

Also known as The Edwardian Country House.

The scullery maid quits in a huff. The first footman and the hall boy are found passed out on the estate grounds, still drunk from an all-night bender. And just when it seems that things couldn't possibly get any worse, the hall boy and the new scullery maid are caught doing more than the dishes. It's hard to find good help, especially when the servants are attractive, 21st-century twenty-somethings accustomed to having their own way and answering to no one. But this is the lot in Edwardian life at Manderston, a 109-room Scottish mansion, the setting for the latest PBS "hands-on history" series. Presiding over the young servants are the no-nonsense butler and the matronly housekeeper. And above them all, literally and figuratively, is the aristocratic family living a life of elaborate banquets and balls upstairs.

The servants are gossiping and all of it is true in Manor House. A fascinating look at the rigid social hierarchy of Edwardian Britain, this six-part series continues the tradition established by The 1900 House and Frontier House , cultural-reality series that document the experiences of real-life, modern people living in another historic time period that is authentically re-created.

"The series is as much about social status, interaction and behavior as it is about leaving the modern world and all of its technological conveniences behind," said executive producer Beth Hoppe. "There are three distinct social classes in Manor House— the aristocratic family, the upper servants and the lower servants — all under one roof but living very separate and unequal lives. The house is like a microcosm of early 20th-century Britain, and it's fascinating to see what happens when the participants bring their modern ideas and identities into that situation."

The 19 British participants in Manor House, chosen from nearly 8,000 applicants, were each given rulebooks based on household manuals and etiquette guides of the day. Twelve servants work around the clock to keep life in a rural Edwardian mansion running smoothly while tending to the five members of the "aristocratic" Olliff-Cooper family. Living in cramped quarters, the servants have no time off and are forbidden such basic freedoms as fraternizing or choosing when to take their weekly bath. When a member of the aristocratic family passes them, they must avert their eyes and do their best to become invisible. The experiment, representing the years 1905 to 1914, was conducted for three months.

The series originally aired under the name The Edwardian Country House Tuesdays from April 23 to May 28, 2002 on the U.K. network Channel 4. The U.S. run of the series in April 2003 on PBS, when it was renamed Manor House, had slightly altered episode titles and included more footage than was shown in the U.K. to make the episodes longer.

Broadcast History -----------------

Channel 4 (UK): Upstairs Downstairs - Apr 23, 2002, Tue - 9:00pm Up to Scratch - Apr 30, 2002, Tue - 9:00pm The Servants Revolt - May 7, 2002, Tue - 9:00pm Cold Comfort - May 14, 2002, Tue - 9:00pm Home and Empire - May 21, 2002, Tue - 9:00pm Winners and Losers - May 28, 2002, Tue - 9:00pm

PBS (US): Upstairs Downstairs - Apr 28, 2003, Mon - 8:00pm Making the Grade - Apr 28, 2003, Mon - 9:00pm The Servants Revolt - Apr 29, 2003, Tue - 8:00pm Tough Love - Apr 29, 2003, Tue - 9:00pm Days of Empire - Apr 30, 2003, Wed - 8:00pm Winners and Losers - Apr 30, 2003, Wed - 9:00pmmoreless


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  • Rebecca Smith

    Rebecca Smith

    First Housemaid

    Anna Olliff-Cooper

    Anna Olliff-Cooper

    Mistress (Lady)

    Antonia Dawson

    Antonia Dawson

    Kitchen Maid

    Avril Anson

    Avril Anson

    Mistress' Sister

    Carly Beard

    Carly Beard

    Scullery Maid #3 (Ellen)

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