The Duchess of Duke Street

Season 1 Episode 1

A Present Sovereign

Aired Saturday 7:30 PM Sep 04, 1976 on BBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

A young girl named Louisa Leyton arrives at an upper-class house, to take up the position of assistant cook.

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  • Upstairs Downstairs little sister starts off nicely.

    It's obvious from this first episode that the show was created by some people behind 'Upstairs Downstairs', and yet there are some differences. Both shows started their story in 1900, but 'Duchess' clearly looks toward the future. Louisa Leyton, a middle-class woman, will not accept the traditions of the late Victorian, early-Edwardian era. She has an ambition in life for which she will tolerate a certain amount of servitude (learning how to become a chef) but she won't be pushed around. No character in 'Upstairs Downstairs' would dare to speak their mind like Louisa, who's afraid of no-one, be they servants or noblemen.

    There seems to be more of an emphasis on the lives of the people downstairs. The hierarchy within that group causes the tension, the people upstairs hardly matter. The comedy comes from the clash between Louisa and Monsieur Alex, the chef who doesn't believe women can cook.

    It's the creation of one particular character (Louisa) that makes the show worth watching and ensures that 'Duchess' isn't 'Upstairs Downstairs Revisited'.moreless
Christopher Cazenove

Christopher Cazenove

Charlie Tyrell (Lord Haselmere)

Gemma Jones

Gemma Jones

Louisa Leyton/Trotter

Victoria Plucknett

Victoria Plucknett

Mary Phillips

George Pravda

George Pravda

Monsieur Alex

Guest Star

Roger Hammond

Roger Hammond

Prince of Wales

Guest Star

Doreen Mantle

Doreen Mantle

Mrs Catchpole

Guest Star

June Brown

June Brown

Mrs. Leyton

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Mrs. Catchpole: Sensible, determined sort of girl.

      Monsieur Alex: Yes, but what does she look like? A chorus girl? I don't want a chorus girl in my kitchen.

      Mrs. Catchpole: Really, I don't think I follow you.

      Monsieur Alex: I don't want a woman anyway. Women do not make cooks.

    • Monsieur Alex: Do tell me, Leyton, what do you personally consider the most important piece of equipment of a cook?

      Louisa: I don't know. The stove, I guess.

      Monsieur Alex: No, no, no, no. It is this. (Points at his nose.) And after the smell, the taste, the tongue. And then the eyes.

    • Trotter: It's not talked about, but I think it's generally known in this household that my parentage is somewhat veiled in mystery. It's fairly certain that my mother was of noble birth. I don't like to boast about it, but it does make a difference.

    • Louisa: Have you ever thought about what happens if a servant gets put in the family way by one of you lot?
      Charlie: As a rule some arrangement is made.
      Louisa: An arrangement? My foot! Chucked out with a week's wages! No reference, no hope. If she gets over the baby - which a lot don't - there's only one thing left: the streets. You go out and ask any tart you like. Even money she started out in service.

  • NOTES (0)