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Mama Deb
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Manor House

New PBS reality series, Manor House, which is amazingly addictive.



Adorable footmen, actually. Two pretty 23 year olds. Also a cute 18 year old coachman, and even the hall boy has his charms.

Ahem.

The conceit is that it's 1906, and it's Hunting Season, so Sir John Olliff-Cooper, his lady, their two sons and her unmarried sister are going to their country manor. One son is 18, the other is nine. In reality, he's a business man (actually, so is "Sir" John, which is why he was knighted) and she's an emergency room physician.

The servants are all "volunteers", although a number have the background or training for the more technical jobs: the butler comes from a line of servants, the housekeeper ran restaurants, the chef is a chef, the lady's maid is a hairdresser and ran a clothing store and the coachman is a coachman. The chef and the lady's maid also have had an interest in the time period.

The others have no background at all for this world - mostly people in their early twenties with normal 21st Century jobs.

The footmen are adorable, but I said that.

They've already gone through two scullery maids, who have the lowest rank and therefore the most work - they spend their days washing the enormous number of pots and pans (the family has huge, multicourse meals and there are also all the servants to feed) generated by the kitchen and when they aren't, they're scrubbing the kitchen. Both of these women seemed surprised at that.

They're understaffed. The Master has no valet so the butler doubles; there should be some more kitchen help; and this hundred room mansion is cleaned by two maids without benefit of vacuum cleaner, although I suspect they don't use more than a small portion of the manor.

So, the upper servants, who work very hard, expect the work and know what they are doing and the younger servants are working harder than they ever have for less reward at tasks they have never done, such as carrying chamberpots and blocks of ice or endless polishing of silver and crystal. And they have to do it as *servants* - disappearing when the family comes into view, never speaking to them, being ordered around by the upper servants. They may have been prepared for that intellectually, but not emotionally. And that hierarchy is rigidly enforced - only the little boy has the freedom to be in both places, where he's spoiled by both sets.

And he loves it. He loves having servants, he loves being uppercrust, he just *loves* it. So do his parents and brother. They seem to enjoy being waited on, to being in charge (although it looks like Mr. Edgar, the butler, runs them, too. :)). They slid in very fast. Of course, they also have to play their parts. Rebecca the upstairs maid resents the fact that Lady Olliff-Cooper just walks by without acknowledging her, but milady is *supposed* to do that. She has her own set of complex rules to follow.

We'll find out how the spinster sister adjusts - she has very low status because she's unmarried.

It's all very fascinating.

Comments

You're making me miss having a TV; this sounds fascinating.

I think the BBC had a couple of similar reality series. One was an Edwardian house, and the other one a Regency house. Am too lazy to look up links.

This is the BBC Edwardian House series.

I think things would be somewhat different if it were, say, based in the US. Less hierarchical, at any rate. Still with a hierarchy, but less rigid.