The Duchess of Duke Street, the Series (5 disc Box set) DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 10.0
Video 8.0
Audio 8.0
Special Features   0.0
Total 9.0
Distributor: Roadshow
Running Time:
92 minutes
Classification:
PG
Reviewer:
Felix Staica

9.0


The Duchess of Duke Street, the Series
(5 disc Box set)

Let me begin by saying this is epic TV viewing. I have seldom watched five discs of the same show in one week. It is also addictive viewing. The writing is so brilliant, the performances so convincing, I was loathe to press the stop button—and I didn’t. I watched each disc in its entirety (2hr20min) because I felt compelled to sit and watch the characters live out their adventures. Of course, this kind viewing goes against the spirit of the original series, which was broadcast in 1976 on BBC-1 and consisted of weekly 50 minute episodes. On this release, they have collapsed three episodes per disc, but you can usually tell where the line between original episodes is. 

So what on earth could possibly be this engrossing? Well, it’s the opening years of the twentieth century in London, and a youthful Louisa (Gemma Jones) applies for assistant cook to a noble household. A century ago, there was still a sharp division between the classes. Her ambition is to be ‘the best cook in England’ and the French chef de cuisine of the household gives her tips on achieving it—she works bloody hard along the way and has the talent to suit! 

At the household, she befriends a maid and the future King also takes a liking to Louisa. She is pushed around by her superiors and goes along with it, realising that that is how ‘society’ operates. Her rise and rise to a successful hotel owner and chef form the first half of the story and it is engrossing to the hilt. All the schemes and obstacles she encounters are entertaining. In the second half, once her position in life is established, she faces new trials, brought up by the envy and need of others. 

The Duchess of Duke Street is filled with characters so humanly written and so convincingly played, you feel you’ve known people like them all your life and if there were a knock on your door, you would not be surprised to find one of them there. Most memorable are Mr Merriman (John Welsh), the old butler who is anywhere and everywhere and Mary (Victoria Plucknett), the Welsh maid who ends up second in charge of the Bentink Hotel. 

I doubt most people have heard of this obscure title (I know I hadn’t). If you want some addictive TV viewing with what I consider some of the best and realistic (yes, they swear in the 1900s) TV writing I’ve ever come across, you can’t go past this DVD. The sheer energy and screen presence of Cockney-speaking Louisa Trotter and the way she deals with life are so enchanting and uplifting, you’d wish she were your auntie or neighbour! One of the best TV series I have ever seen. 

Felix Staica






 
 



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