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Series / To the Manor Born

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Pictured: Richard and Audrey.
To the Manor Born was a Brit Com created and written by Peter Spence that ran for three series from 1979-81 and a Christmas special in 2007. Upper-Class Twit Audrey fforbes-Hamilton (Penelope Keith) is forced to sell Grantleigh Manor, the Big Fancy House which has been in her family for countless generations. To her horror, the historic estate is bought by Richard DeVere (Peter Bowles), a Nouveau Riche supermarket magnate. To make sure he doesn't make a mess of things, she moves into a lodge in the front yard.

As the series went on, Audrey became a Defrosting Ice Queen and developed a Slap-Slap-Kiss relationship with Richard. They had a Last Minute Hookup in the Grand Finale. A one-off revival episode was aired in 2007.

Came twenty-first in Britain's Best Sitcom.

Tropes include:

  • Alpha Bitch: Audrey was one before her drop in status. She's still pretty "alpha" during the series through sheer force of personality.
  • Arranged Marriage: Audrey claims her marriage to Marton was this.
    Marjory: That was an arranged marriage?
    Audrey: Of course: I arranged it.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign : Mrs Poo would in reality be unlikely to talk of 'old Czechoslovakia', as, born in 1904, she is 15 years older than Czechoslovakia. Being from Bratislava, she would probably say "We have a saying in old Slovakia".
  • Bad "Bad Acting": When Richard attempts to act in a television advertisement, he's terrible at it.
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  • Big Fancy House: Grantleigh Manor. It's telling that, though the hunting lodge where Audrey moves is spacious and well-furnished, she considers it a huge step down from the grandeur of Grantleigh.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Audrey to Richard. She starts out hating him, but they gradually become friends over the course of the series and get together by the end.
  • Formerly Fat: In one episode, Audrey's old schoolfriend 'Podge' Hodge comes to stay, and Richard offers to put her up at the Manor. When 'Podge' turns up, she's become slim and pretty, and Richard starts taking a worrying amount of interest in her.
  • The Grand Hunt: Fox hunting features in several episodes, as Audrey is a member of the local hunt, and Richard joins as it is expected of him as lord of the manor.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: Mrs Poo's 'old Czechoslovakian' sayings. Most are of the less obscure variety.
    Mrs Poo: There is a saying in old Czechoslovakia: he who sits on the highest pinnacle still sits on his own backside.
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  • Impoverished Patrician: Audrey. The plot is kicked off when her husband dies and she discovers that despite having the name and prestige of a fforbes-Hamilton, her husband Marton has spent all their money, necessitating her selling Grantleigh.
  • Kissing Cousins: Audrey's late husband, who died pre-series, was also her cousin.
  • Land Poor: Audrey discovers that she is this in the first episode: unlike most examples of this trope, she actually sells the manor.
  • Last Minute Hookup: After series after series of Will They or Won't They?, Richard and Audrey get together. But only after she gets the manor.
  • My Beloved Smother: Mrs Polouvicka.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Though this is a Justified Trope, as Richard is Eastern European and his real name is Bedrich Polouvicek. He came to Britain as a child in 1939.
  • Old Retainer: Brabinger, the butler. He's worked on the estate since he was a child and stays with Audrey even after she moves to the lodge.
  • Playing Games at Work: In one episode, Audrey has an argument with a seemingly hard at work Richard, who is half-distracted the whole time by his brand new computer. After she storms off it's revealed he was playing Breakout.
  • Preppy Name: Audrey fforbes-Hamilton, her late husband Marton (yes, spelled with an o), and her school friend Marjory Frobisher. Richard DeVere is a subversion: his real name is foreign but he changed it specifically to invoke this.
  • Pride Before a Fall: Happens to Audrey in the first episode, of course, but also to Richard. He comes in boasting that he'll turn Grantleigh into a profitable modernized farm in no time and quickly realizes that he knows nothing about farming or country life.
  • Pun-Based Title: On Shakespeare's "to the manner born."
  • Self-Made Man: Richard. He went from a fruit barrow to a multimillion supermarket chain.
  • Shipper on Deck: Mrs Poo, which pays off when she finally gets her wish to have Richard and Audrey marry.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Audrey and Richard.
  • Society Marches On: In The '80s, Richard's plan to turn Grantleigh Estate into a commercial farm for his business is seen as forward-thinking and modern, while Audrey's attempts to prevent Grantleigh changing is framed as her being an old-fashioned traditionalist. Nowadays we know how ecologically destructive Richard's intensive factory farming practices are, so Audrey appears ahead of her time.
  • Suspiciously Specific Sermon: Not a sermon, exactly, but the reading of the lesson. Audrey arranges for Richard to read Matthew 19 for his first Sunday at church.
    Richard: [reading from the Bible] "I tell you this: it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Do you think she chose that deliberately?
  • The Tramp: Mr Smith, who comes to Grantleigh every year. His episode features him successfully begging money from Richard, then claiming to Audrey that Richard turned him away, doubling his take. The other estate owners mention doing the same.
  • The Unpronounceable: According to Audrey "Polouvicka" is this, thus the nickname "Mrs Poo".
  • Upper-Class Twit: Audrey at times. She's not an idiot, it's just that she's excellent at things expected of a village patrician (organizing and hosting events, for example) but not at being an ordinary person (buying food at the grocery).
  • The Vicar: The Rector, who ticks all the boxes: docile, elderly, and somewhat effete.
  • Wedding Finale: The series ends with Audrey's marriage to Richard.
  • Well-Intentioned Replacement: In one episode, Richard bought Audrey a new Austin Metro to replace her expensive-to-run 1930s Rolls-Royce when she considered selling the Rolls; she was offended by his thinking she needed charity and couldn't bring herself to sell the old car to a collector since he planned to rebody it.
    • In other episode, Audrey uncovers a well-preserved marble fireplace in the lodge. At the same time, she expresses her outrage at Richard removing the Adam-designed fireplace in Grantleigh (even though she always hated it). Cue Richard replacing the far more beautiful marble fireplace with the comparatively tacky one from Grantleigh. Fortunately his workers only covered it up and it was back to normal in the next episode.
  • Widow Woman: Audrey, which she happens to be quietly delighted about! Subverted as of the finale - in which she and Richard happily marry.


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