Curse PBS for sending me a catalog of their DVDs. I ordered (at a huge amount of money that no, I cannot really afford) seasons one and two of The Duchess of Duke Street, the British series about the early 20th-century real-life cook and hoteliere Rosa Lewis. I haven’t seen it since it first ran in the US some 25 years ago, but it’s just as fab as I recall. Are British people born with “acting genes?” Even the bit players are superb. Thoroughly enjoyable, and I’m glad to see the lead, Gemma Jones, still has a flourishing career. If you’re an Upstairs, Downstairs fan like I am, this is a great companion piece.
Anyone else remember this series? As an historian, too, I must say the costumes, hairstyles, (lack of) makeup and the set decoration is spot-on.
Like you, I remember watching the series when it was broadcast decades ago. But it apparently didn’t make quite as great an impression on me as it did on you. My most recent British mini-series purchases were Reilly, Ace of Spies and Danger UXB.
Yes, I do! I started a similar thread a couple of years ago, and next to no one remembered it (although a few remembered “their moms” watching it - boo!).
I rented it through “Video Library”, a service that rents not-so-well-known movies and series. To my surprise, my husband loved it, too. I watched almost the whole series when it was originally shown, and I remember my dad watching and liking it back then, too. It was good to see it again and to see the earliest episodes, which I had never seen before.
Yes, Gemma Jones is terrific. She was in the recently filmed Sense and Sensibility as Mother Dashwood, and ISTR seeing her portray Portia in a filmed version of The Merchant of Venice at some point. But I do think that Louisa Trotter is her best role - she simply owned that character. I could see the whole series again.
Part of me wants to travel to London to see if her hotel is still there and still in business as a “belle epoch” establishment.
I have both series on DVD and was watching them again recently. I love them. Gemma Jones is wonderful as Louisa Trotter.
For a long time, I thought that Gemma Jones was Emma Thompson’s mother (before I learned Phyllida Law was); I thought I could see something of a resemblance. So the Sense and Sensibility casting has always delighted me.
It was only recently that I realized that the hotel in Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies (and the film version, Bright Young Things) is also based on Rosa Lewis’s establishment.
Eve, if you haven’t seen The House of Eliott–another Jean Marsh (of Upstairs, Downstairs) created series–about two sisters who are dress designers in the 1920s, I recommend it. I think you’d really like it.
I’ve watched Part One of The Duchess of Duke Street, and when I can get a moment will watch the second part. I liked it, but I must admit that half the time I couldn’t understand a word Gemma Jones was saying with that strange accent. Was she doing a Cockney accent, or was it some other kind of British accent?
Very heavy Cockney! Perehaps a Brit who’s seen us can tell us how accurate it was? I love the Cockneyisms: “oo’s 'e when 'e’s at 'ome?” “Put it where the monkey put the nuts!,” “Don’t be such a silly 'erbert.”