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Series / Escape To The Chateau

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Escape to the Chateau is a TV Series created by Channel Four in 2016.

It's a documentary/home makeover-style series about Dick and Angel Strawbridge and their children who have brought the 45 roomed Château de la Motte-Husson and its estate in rural France. They turned the crumbling building into a family home, revived the estate with an events business, and turned a wasteland into a working garden.

The show has also received two spin-offs:

In 2018 a new series called Escape To The Chateau DIY began, which focused on other Brits were also in the chateau business or were about to start their own. While the show has Dick doing the voiceover, it sometimes bounces back to Dick and Angel working on new things or mentoring the newbies. However, Dick and Angel have now left the series which is now renamed Chateau DIY

Also in 2020, due to the pandemic, Dick and Angel began a new show called Escape to the Chateau: Make Do and Mend, which has them working with people over video calls about interior design and restoration.

The series contained the following tropes:

  • Aside Glance: Since the show is real life, there is plenty of these.
  • Beautiful Condemned Building: The Château de la Motte-Husson was abandoned for 40 years, it had no electricity or heating, the plumbing barely existed, and the place was filled with lead paint, rot and bats. Dick and Angel restored it, and now it's paying its way.
    • In Series 8 Dick and Angel have now repaired the roof and had the front facade render replaced making this soon to be a memory.
  • Big Fancy Castle: Well, "château" is French for Castle, and once Angel took care of the inside it was fancy.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Set in France, the Strawbridges sometimes speak unsubtitled French, and the children attend a French school, though they still speak English to their parents.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: When Angel and Dick are speaking or explaining their plans, they talk straight to the camera.
    • When Dick converted a boiler into the rotisserie, he had to force the camera crew to move back when he burnt the remaining oil to keep them away from the high flames.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Angel's events business began as a hobby, as did her collecting antiques. Both have served her well on the show.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Dick was an engineer in the Army. He was also a regular on Scrapheap Challenge and was a semi-finalist on Celebrity Masterchef. He masterminds most repairs and expansions, and does the cooking for their guests. As well he did a series called It's Not Easy Being Green about being self sufficient, he tries to reuse whatever they are able to keep and several of the spaces use Solar Panels and Wind Turbines to power them.
    • Angel has worked in the events business but also she was an accountant, which helps towards the Wedding Planning.
    • Also Angel's Father Steve is a retired Jeweller which he was to be used with restoring the Windows but in the later series he made a second key from scraps of Silver and a new Weathervane.
  • Cobweb of Disuse: As the rooms are restored, there are shots of cobwebs throughout.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: In Series One, because Dick had the deadline of the wedding to get some of the rooms ready, he had to cut corners. His plan to replace the windows had to be scrapped; instead he plastered the windows to hold up.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Arthur is the more the outgoing sibling, while Dorothy is shy. In the third series at a parade, Dorothy is one pulling Arthur to the pavement in fear he could get hurt.
  • Garden of Love: The walled garden is a labour of love. When it's restored, Dick has it filled with fruit and vegetables that go towards the meals they make, Angel has a side filled with wildflowers that she uses towards the events, and even the children have grown some watermelons.
    • In the Potagerie Suite, Angel has the view of the walled garden as inspiration, with the wallpaper being an Art Nouveau-style print of the plants. She also presses plants for the turret room's design.
  • Grail in the Garbage: When the Baglione family gave the Strawbridges the ownership, they left all the remaining contents of the chateau. Angel has transformed the vintage magazines into decoupage wallpaper, and Dick was able to find quinces still growing in the wasteland of the walled garden.
  • Green Thumb: Dick displays this with his garden's produce, which is used throughout the year.
  • Happily Ever After: The original series ended with Dick and Angel getting married.
  • Happily Married: Dick and Angel are an honest example of this. They do have arguments, especially when focusing on rooms designs, but they make up by the end.
  • How Dad Met Mom: In a later series, Dick and Angel took the children to the town where they first came up with the idea of living in France.
  • Language Barrier: When the series started Angel and Dick were weak on their French, Dick even spoke a mixture of French and English, however by the last series Dick and Angel both speak French much easier.
  • The Merch: Due to the popularly of Angel's designs, several of her wallpaper designs are now for sale, and the patterns have been made into lampshades, pillowcases, and bedding.
  • Multigenerational Household: As well as the main four, Angel's parents also live in the stables, which has been turned into a granny flat for them.
  • Narrator: The main series is narrated by Tracy-Ann Oberman, whose warm soft voice is quite as important to the show as anything else.
  • Oh, Crap!: Series 3 had Dick decided to have the tree pollarded, which is when the trees upper branches are cut for them to grow back healthier. However, he didn't realise how much was going to be trimmed, resulting in them being bald. Angel was annoyed and Dick was in the doghouse.
    • While they did grow back, it took another series for them to get to a decent size, and Angel still talked about when they looked at old photographs.
      • In the 2021 Series Dick has now pollarded them with the watchful eye of Angel and thankfully she took it better.
  • Parent-Child Team: Sometimes the children help create crafts for the chateau.
    • Angel's parents help out with Babysitting Arthur and Dorothy, as well as helping out in the Chateau when they can.
    • Dick has a son James, who owns a restaurant and helped Dick with the catering for Angel's parents' 50th wedding anniversary.
  • Picky Eater: Averted. Arthur and Dorothy love a good range of food and are willing to try new things, through snails and oysters weren't a great success.
  • Real Men Cook: Dick cooks a lot. He reached the semi-final of Celebrity Masterchef.
  • Scenery Porn: The aerial views of the French countryside as the Chateau comes into view.
  • Shared Family Quirks: You can see that Arthur and Dorothy are a lot like their parents.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: Rather than waste money on overpriced personalised products, Angel will make them herself, to the point of making tiles for the kitchen with a press she found online.
  • Someday This Will Come in Handy: They frequently preserve heirlooms and knickknacks from the original owners that end up getting used as decoration.
    • In Fact in the episode when they turned the stables in the Granny Flat they removed a window to the storage only for them to retrieve it minutes later for a picture frame
  • Space Elevator: In the second series, Dick and Angel decide to build an elevator in the one tower for disabled guests and Dick's mother, who was unable to climb the stairs that Christmas. After realising that a period lift was out of the question, they went for a modern-looking one.
  • Taxidermy Terror: Averted. Angel enjoys antique taxidermy but nothing too scary. The only time she does fall under this trope is when she cleaned a stuffed duck by putting it in the freezer to kill pests.
  • This Is What the Building Will Look Like: Dick often illustrates his building plans for the viewers with a whiteboard and marker.
    • In later series, he has used the chateau's plans which they have framed in the Salon drawing the plans on the washable marker.
  • Trophy Room: The tower that the elevator is in is called The Tower of Curiosities, which has a small museum of things the family have found.
    • Angel found scraps of wallpaper in the attic and turned the Honeymoon Suite's turret room into a wallpaper museum.
  • Truth in Television: As fun as the show is, there is still the reminder that the chateau's restoration is difficult and that it's not for everyone:
    • The Chateau was empty for 40 years, the plumbing was crude, there was no electricity and the place was filled with bats and flies.
    • Before receiving a grant to update, the chateau's plumbing flowed into the moat.
    • Anytime Angel comes up with a new plan, Dick has to bring her down to earth if it doesn't sound particularly feasible or affordable, and they reach a happy medium.
    • Whenever Dick and Angel can find a way to do something cheap, they will.
  • So Proud of You: After all the stresses that they go through, when a job goes well Dick and Angel have a moment to say something nice to each other.