When her husband dies, Audrey Fforbes-Hamilton discovers she is in serious debt and must sell her house, Grantley Manor. The Estate is bought by Mr Richard DeVere, a Czechoslovak immigrant who has established a very successful chain of supermarkets calle
The show is a gentle dig at English aristocratic life and those who are members of it and those who are trying to.
What provides the program's key interest, is not the terribly quaint Little England setting but the burgeoning relationship between Penelope Keith's Audrey fforbes-Hamilton and Richard De Vere (Peter Bowles), the new owner of Audrey's old home, Grantleigh Manor. It's all very, very English (the show is set in a village called Cricket St. Thomas) and the continuing use of farce almost creates a sense of parody. But look beyond the infuriating stereotypes and there is some sharp writing going on, predating the city vs countryside debate by nearly two decades.
It is one of the better Brit-coms, witty and intelligent without being over-the-top or inaccessible. It has an oh-so-British tone to it, deliberately so, as it looks with grace and humour at the clash of cultures in modern Britain, the clash between tradition and modernity (finding out that neither is always what it seems), as well as the clash between social classes. All of this is done in such a light-hearted manor, er, manner, that one scarcely realises the biting and insightful satire that runs alongside the comedic situations.
When the original series was on it was a show not to be missed! The interaction with the old guard MFH and the (in her opinion) staff was first class; and then enter Richard and his mother (mrs poo)was a stroke of genius when you watch the original series the sets are a little dated now but the characters and scrip are still excellent. I was a little surprised that upon doing a little research that so many of the original cast only survived the series by a couple of years, they were missed in the 2007 xmas show but having said that the special had all the old magic and sparkle it shone through just like it did before
When PBS premiered this show in the 1980's British television comedy was defined by Monty Python and Benny Hill.
Then came Butterflies and To the Manor Born. These were two very witty shows that moved comedy to a new high.
Audrey was the epitome of the British nobility snob. But like a lot of the upper class, in 80's death brought financial upheaval. When Audrey's husband dies, she finds out that she is in debt and has to sell the manor.
The one thing she does not want to happen is to have the estate fall in the hands of a rock star or a foriegn millionaire and social climber. Enter Richard DeVere, a selfmade foriegn millionaire.
What begins is a war of the wills. The old established ways versus the new ways.
Beyond a great script, Penelope Keith was perfect as Audrey. The supporting cast is also just perfect.
This show not only captures the era that it takes place but a social order that is still fighting for its existence.
Within my opinion, the top three britcoms made were To the Manor Born, Mulberry, and As Time Goes By. (Not to mention Are you being Served and Bless me Father.) My family and I always gather around the television Saturday night and watch britcoms, and now we just watch To the Manor Born and As Time Goes By. I really like Penelope Keith as Audrey, and I'm glad she shows up in other PBS specials, unfortunately, those are usually only played during "money-grubbing" time. She was an excellent actress for Audrey, and brought out all the expressions and little quirks of her character. Audrey can usually turn a rather happy situation and put a sarcastic spin on it, so that poor unfortunate Margery usually gets the short end of things (personally, I think Audrey should leave some "scraps" of things for her friend.) Margery remarkably still sticks with Audrey in most cases, though Audrey does her utmost to keep Margery from Richard. I was happy when they end up getting together, but since this was a happy-Britcom, the two people who had the most problems had to get together eventually.
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