A 2002 British TV Series, the latest in a long trend of Historical Recreation Reality Shows
. Following the success of 1900 House, this series attempted to recreate life in an English country estate at the height of the The Edwardian Era
. A modern-day, moderately well-to-do British family are brought in to step into the polished boots of turn-of-the-century landed aristocracy, while other normal people from different walks of life take up the roles of the staff.
During the three-month social experiment, all participants are required to not merely talk the talk, but also walk the socially-stratified walk. Abovestairs, the Oliff-Cooper clan adopt the lifestyles of the landed gentry while navigating the labyrinthine rituals and customs of a typical Edwardian social season. Belowstairs, the servants are expected to carry the full workloads of their turn-of-the-century counterparts, while also observing all period etiquette, protocols and restrictions. Hilarity Ensues
This show contains examples of:
- A Father to His Men: Edgar, the butler, to the staff. He actually admits to coming to think of them as his grandchildren.
- Sir John sees himself as this. Meanwhile, the entire staff are giddily constructing an effigy of Sir John to burn during the finale.
- Becoming the Mask: Several participants to different degrees, but Lady Oliff-Cooper is the most extreme example. A modern, well-educated, capable, intelligent professional in the beginning, but three months of living the life of an upper-crust Edwardian society woman... by the end, it's like she's been brainwashed. It gets just a tad eerie.
Lady Oliff-Cooper (in reference to her son, Guy): And I was thinking to myself: 'He mustn't get too close to the servants'. Because eventually when he inherits the house, he'll have to stand his distance as the lord and master. And then I thought to myself: 'Oh dear, how ridiculous'. Of course because this isn't all for real, in three months time we go back home again. But for just that brief moment, this seemed completely real.
- Averted, by contrast, by her sister, interestingly enough.
- Butt Monkey: Kenny. Being hallboy basically means being this professionally. 17 hours a day, seven days a week, bed in the front hall, first to get up, make the fires, and wake everyone else up, plucker of ducks, and lowest paid into the bargain. On the other hand, he's also the one who successfully carries on a fling with Ellen the scullery maid, right up to the end.
- Also, the scullery maids, Kelly, Lucy, and Ellen. Seventeen hours a day, keep the fires stoked, and take orders from Dubiard the chef.
- Really, all the belowstairs staff, in descending order of monkey-buttness.
- Deadpan Snarker: M. Dubiard, the chef. Yes, he's French, why do you ask?
- Disproportionate Retribution: Sir John Oliff-Cooper hands down a particularly harsh one to the entire staff after a social faux-pas. The Oliff-Cooper clan gave the entire staff the night off while he and his family dined out. They all had a rowdy get-together at a local pub to blow off some steam. Uncannily, they chose the exact same restaurant the Oliff-Coopers had been planning to go to. Sir John suspended all time off for the entire staff as punishment. Truly, this was unforgivable.
- To be fair, the night had been mentioned as being overly excessive, and the punishment was "only" that the lower servants' families would no longer be allowed to visit the coming bazaar (already a generous allowance, and he did eventually re-allow that visit).
- The Ditz: Kenny the Hallboy.
- Gorgeous Period Dress: Well, okay, yeah. The family and the higher-ranking staff get the good duds. Though not capes and elaborate ballgowns, as it's the Edwardian Era, so it's more understated and modern, but this trope still applies if you like that sort of style.
- Heel Realization: An intriguing inversion. Mr. Edgar's grandfather had actually been a real butler in the Edwardian era. An icy, distant, authoritarian figure, he inspired silent terror in the young boy. In his shoes sixty years later, a shaken Mr. Edgar comes to understand just why he had to be that way.
- Invisible to Normals: Some of the staff. According to Edwardian social dictate, they were to remain out of sight, and, if present, were not to be acknowledged.
- Meganekko: Becky. Kind of a pity that she's out of focus.
- Mr. Fanservice: Rob, Charlie, Kenny, Tristan.
- Jonty Oliff-Cooper, for girls who like the more refined, intellectual type.
- Out of Focus: Mrs. Davies, Becky, Tristan, Jessica, Ellen. Responsible? Good-natured? Did your backbreaking labor day in and day out without drama or secret love affairs? Well... good for you.
- After two failures walk out, Ellen arrives and successfully assumes the role of scullery maid. You will never hear from her again.
- Poor, poor Jonty Oliff-Cooper.
- Miss Morrison is evidently Out of Focus enough to not have been mentioned even here.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Edgar, the butler, to the staff. Though undeniably strict and intimidating, it's noted that he would actually have been considered lenient by the standards of the old days. Also noteworthy that an early act of leniency comes back to bite him, rather viciously, at which point he is forced to affirm the "Authority Figure" part of the trope.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Good scullery maids are so hard to find these days...
- Scullery Maid: Kelly, Lucy, Ellen, the, uh, scullery maids.
- Single Tear: Edgar lets one slip during the aforementioned Heel Realization.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Mr. Edgar, Rob, Charlie, and Kenny.
- Supreme Chef: M. Dubiard, naturally.