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Series / The Paradise

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A BBC TV series set in the 1870's in a northern England town, based on the novel Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Paradise or The Ladies' Delight) by Émile Zola. While the book's original setting was in France, the television series moves the location to Northern England.

Denise Lovett, an ambitious country girl from Peebles, Scotland, goes to the city to work at her uncle's drapery, but ends up taking a position with the competition across the street, a department store called The Paradise. Her drive and creativity garner the attention of the owner of The Paradise, widower John Moray, much to the displeasure of Miss Audrey, the head of ladieswear; Clara, one of the shopgirls; and Katherine Glendenning, daughter of a wealthy lord who is set on marrying Moray. The series follows the loves and lives of the characters in Northern England.

The Paradise aired for two seasons of eight episodes each. A third series was to be made, but BBC canceled it due to low ratings.

Now has a character sheet that could use some love!

The Paradise contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Burroughs the barber toward Pauline.
  • The Ace: Denise takes to sales like a fish to water and quickly gains this reputation within the store, earning her Moray's favoritism. This gets her into trouble with her immediate superior, Miss Audrey, who begins to feel threatened by her and works to suppress her potential in order to stop Denise from potentially taking her job.
  • The Barnum: Moray, Denise and Sam all exhibit signs of this, either through innovative marketing ideas or a flair for showmanship.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Mr. Jonas remains steadfast in his duties because the late Mrs. Moray offered him employment without ever questioning him about his missing arm.
  • Birds of a Feather: Moray and Denise form a very quick initial rapport because they're both highly business-minded and talented salespeople who care primarily about their work to the exclusion of almost all else.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Katherine, while not usually ill-intentioned, has a self-centered and manipulative personality that is hidden behind her outward warmth and charm. She frequently makes dramatic displays of generosity or altruism that are meant to make an impression (usually on Moray) more than actually help anybody, and which she quickly abandons when she realizes they're not working.
  • Career Versus Man: A major theme of the series. The question is faced by other characters as well (most notably Miss Audrey), but it's particularly complicated for Denise because her love life and her work life become deeply intertwined and difficult to separate.
  • The Casanova: It's a question in the first episode how much Moray is this.
  • Clear My Name: The focus of an episode of season one is clearing Sam's.
  • Country Mouse: Denise, being from Peebles, is an example of this.
  • Doorstep Baby: The premise of 1x03 is that someone abandons an unnamed child in the Ladies' Wear department of the Paradise.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: In Season 1, Katherine becomes this when Moray takes an interest in Denise. Season 2 is mostly about Katherine Glendenning, now Mrs Weston's, planning her revenge against Moray and Denise. We learn that it was Katherine who called off the wedding, not Moray. She also exiled Moray to France and took possession of the Paradise, only to call him back one year later to create competition between him and Denise. .
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Played with between Denise and both her superiors; while Miss Audrey and especially Moray are certainly not bad at their jobs, Denise goes very far above and beyond the call of duty to help the store and is never really compensated for her extra work. More or less played straight when she moves across the street to work for her uncle, who is an excellent dressmaker but has none of her ingenuity or business savvy.
  • The Lost Lenore: Moray's wife, Hélène, who has been dead for three years at the start of the series and only appears in a portrait in Moray's office. He is still deeply in mourning over her, to the point that he feels as though he's committing infidelity when he gets involved with any other woman (with the exception of Denise).
  • Love at First Sight: Lightly implied between Denise and Moray. The first time they see each other, through the shop window of the Paradise, Moray does a small double take and only one episode later makes a sketch of her face that he crumples up and throws away. Meanwhile, Denise is so obviously fascinated by Moray that almost as soon as she starts working at the Paradise she's getting accusations of falling for him from Pauline.
  • Married to the Job: Miss Audrey. She even explicitly describes choosing it over marriage at a time when it was not an option to have both. Many characters also remark that Moray's truest love is The Paradise.
  • Not Like Other Girls: Said multiple times about Denise, although somewhat Justified in that it's specifically because she takes an intense personal interest in her work and applies herself very heavily toward the improvement and innovation of the Paradise, whereas to the other girls it's just work.
  • Old Flame: Denise's uncle Edmund to Miss Audrey. She turned down his proposal of marriage in her youth in order to keep her job, but even two decades later they clearly still care for each other.
  • On the Rebound: Katherine allows Peter Adler to court her, after she realizes that it's not working with Moray, but soon ends the new relationship when she admits she is still in love with Moray.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Katherine tries this on Moray more than once, but it never works as well as she hopes.
  • Parental Abandonment: Arthur.
  • The Place: The Paradise is the name of the department store.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • The stoic and intimidating Mr. Jonas gets a few, mostly with Arthur.
    • Miss Audrey spends much of the first season obstructing Denise's advancement and even briefly stooping to the level of stealing one of her ideas. However, when she advises Denise to suppress her feelings for Moray in episode 6, she does so out of genuine concern for Denise's career, painting a very frank and pragmatic picture of what could potentially go wrong were Denise to act on those feelings. (She ends up being incorrect about the trajectory things take, but only because Moray and Denise are an exceptional case; in any similar situation, it would be excellent advice.)
  • Put on a Bus: Pauline disappears after the first season to be replaced with Suspiciously Similar Substitute Suzy.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Myrtle doesn't appear until the second season, yet she's treated as someone the rest of the cast has always known.
  • Self-Made Man: Moray. By the end of the series, Denise is striving to become a self-made woman.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Tom Weston.
  • Shipper on Deck: Dudley for Moray and Katherine. In spite of all evidence to the contrary, he sincerely believes that the two of them belong together and that the only obstacle to be overcome is Moray's grief over his dead wife Hélène.
  • Undying Loyalty: Jonas to the memory of Hélène Moray, to an almost fanatical degree that exceeds even that of her still-devoted husband.
  • Yes-Man: Miss Audrey to Moray. Often played for comedy, as her manner towards him is very obsequious and she sometimes instantly accepts what he says only to have to pause to ask for an explanation a moment later.