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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 Britains Best Sitcom.

Tropes include:

  • Actor Allusion: Deliberate in the case of Penelope Keith. The show was conceived when one of the writers thought, "What if Margo from The Good Life was as rich and sophisticated as she pretends to be?"
  • 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 14 years older than Czechoslovakia. Her full name, seen on her headstone in the 2007 special, is undisputably Slavic, so being from Bratislava she would have grown up as a member of the Slav minority in what was a Hungarian city until 1918, when it was incorporated into the new Czechoslovakia much against the will of the majority Hungarian and German population. Mrs Poo would probably say something like "We Slovaks have an old saying".
  • Bad "Bad Acting": When Richard attempts to act in a television advertisement, he's terrible at it.
  • Batman Gambit: How does Richard get Audrey to organize the Summer Hunt Ball at the manor, despite her refusal to do so? Ask Marjory to do it.
  • Big Fancy House: Grantleigh Manor. It's telling that, though the gatehouse or lodge where Audrey moves is spacious and well-furnished, she considers it a huge step down from the grandeur of Grantleigh.
  • Cool Car: Audrey's 1934 Rolls-Royce 20/25. Richard's Corniche isn't too shabby either.
  • 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.
  • Description Cut: In the first episode, Mrs Polouvicka compares moving to the Manor to leaving Czechoslovakia as a refugee in 1939: "To leave one's home forever, with only a handful of personal possessions." Cut to their car driving to the Manor, followed by three huge removal vans.
  • Do Wrong, Right: After running out of honey from her own hives, Audrey buys several jars from one of Richard's grocery stores and changes the labels. He is disappointed - not because of the deception, but because he could have sold it to her at the wholesale price.
  • Fallen Princess: Audrey has to come to terms with the fact that she no longer has the prestige of being the chatelaine of Grantleigh Manor.
  • Fish out of Water:
    • In addition to doing without the luxuries of living in the manor and following the social set on their routine vacations, Audrey has to contend with more mundane issues, such as shopping at the cash and carry and seeing her doctor as a National Health patient.
    • When Brabinger goes away on sick leave, Ned is brought in to take his place. Being a groundskeeper and not a butler, he's a bit out of his depth.
  • 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.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Despite an obvious attraction to each other from the first series onwards, Richard and Audrey never actually become romantically attached until Audrey proposes in the final episode.
  • Fridge Logic: In-universe. The farm manager explains to Richard that Old Frank is employed to grind the oats for Audrey's horses. Richard points out that since Audrey sold the Manor, she doesn't keep horses at the farm any more, leaving the manager wondering why he hadn't realised that before, and what Frank has been doing with the oats.
  • 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.
  • Handmade Is Better: In one episode, Audrey starts selling honey straight from her own hive. Eventually she gets so successful that she runs out of honey, so she buys commercial stuff from Richard's grocery store and transfers it to her own jars to sell as authentic local honey. Of course she charges many times what the store does.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Malingering Romance Ploy: After Audrey injures her back, she prolongs her "suffering" to keep Richard visiting and bringing her flowers and chocolates. When he invites her on a skiing holiday in Switzerland, she has to accelerate her perceived recovery to not miss out.
  • My Beloved Smother: Mrs. Polouvicka.
  • No Can Opener: Audrey and Marjorie are on a picnic. Audrey is a bit miffed that sardine tins don't have keys anymore, and then they discover they forgot the can opener.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Alhough 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 so has had plenty of time to cultivate an English accent - possibly on purpose, given his rebranding himself with an English identity.
  • No Indoor Voice: When a group of soldiers are helping to set up tables for the village fete, they are commanded by a sergeant who relays all Audrey's orders to his men at top volume.
  • Not So Above It All: Although Richard's role as lord of the manor only gives him a limited window to keep the local railway line open before the terms of the land agreement expire, he takes advantage of the position to charter a private train for himself to go to London.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Audrey accuses Richard and Marjory of having a fling after seeing them coming out of the woods and brushing dirt off their clothing. It turns out they were checking out a new badger sett. A dose of Laser-Guided Karma is applied when Audrey and Richard do the same - in full sight of a crowd of party guests.
  • Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: Subverted. Richard invites Audrey for what she thinks is a date, ending with the two of them together in a punt. When she discovers he's actually using her as an extra in a grocery advertisement he's filming, she takes her revenge by setting the punt adrift in the river, with him on board.
  • 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. Ned the groundskeeper fills the role when Brabinger is away ill.
  • Pre-Approved Sermon: In the second episode, the Vicar is looking forward to Audrey moving away, because it means he'll be able to choose what readings and hymns to have without her interference. He doesn't look pleased when he realises that though she's leaving the manor, she's still going to live in the parish.
  • 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: As well as a Literary Allusion Title, being a play on "to the manner born" from Hamlet.
  • Read the Fine Print: In one episode, Audrey is campaigning against the closure of the local railway station, and quotes a provision in the Act of Parliament establishing the line that it can't be closed without the approval of the Lord of the Manor — who is, currently, Richard. Richard (who secretly wants the station closed, so he can buy the site for a grocery store) takes the trouble to check the actual wording of the Act, and discovers that the provision does exist, but expires so soon that he'd only be able to delay the closure by a few days. (In the end it becomes academic as the rail line is kept in operation to serve a new school for the area.)
  • Seamless Spontaneous Lie: To hide the fact that she couldn't afford to winter in Spain, Audrey spent a couple of weeks artificially tanning in her home while coming up with a cover story. When she meets someone at a party who stayed at the resort she claimed to have stayed at, she changed her story and explained her earlier fib as having dined there and confused her facts.
  • 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.
  • 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.