Manor House

Season 1 Episode 3

The Servants Revolt

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Aired Unknown Apr 29, 2003 on PBS
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The Servants Revolt
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At the height of Edwardian opulence, a battle was brewing that eventually would transform the British political landscape. The Clarion, a political paper, published articles written from a socialist perspective. It also championed the right to leisure for the working classes — a key issue in a society where industrialization had replaced seasonal and weather-dependent work with unremitting labor for the masses. The newspaper spawned a network of social clubs for working men and women. In this episode, the staff crisis comes to a head. One of the maids is sick and the other servants bitterly complain about the family — and even about Morrison, the lady's maid — and demand better working conditions. The chef breaches etiquette and convinces Lady Olliff-Cooper and her sister, Miss Anson, to see the working conditions downstairs for the first time. Lady Olliff-Cooper also pays a visit to a local hospital, mirroring the tradition of philanthropic, upper-class women of the period. After five weeks of non-stop work, the staff gets a much-needed break, but news of their evening at a local pub outrages Sir John, whose attitudes and behaviors seem to serve him well in his role as Master of the House. A third housemaid, Erika Ravitz, and another scullery maid, Ellen Beard, are hired, just in time to help with the upcoming charity bazaar on the grounds of Manderston. The participants' families are invited, and there are happy, tearful reunions. But opening the estate to the public for the charity bazaar brings unwelcome visitors as well, at least as far as the aristocrats are concerned. Like a portent for the inevitable demise of the Edwardian era, members of a socialist organization come to spread their message of workers' rights to the servants.moreless

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