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26th April 2007 at 2:48 am #882coolowl2001Memberfrom the Wiki:
The Duchess of Duke Street
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The Duchess Of Duke Street was a BBC television drama series. The
programme lasted for two series totalling 30 episodes, shown between
1976 and 1977.
The series was created by John Hawkesworth, the former producer of
the highly successful ITV period drama Upstairs, Downstairs and
starred Gemma Jones as Louisa Trotter, the eponymous "Duchess" who
works her way up from servant to renowned cook to proprietress of the
upper-class Bentinck Hotel in Duke Street, Marylebone in London.
The story is loosely based on the real-life career of Rosa Lewis (née
Ovenden), the "Duchess of Jermyn Street", who ran the Cavendish Hotel
in London. When the show first aired, there were many people who
still remembered her, as she lived until 1952. She was born in
Leyton, Essex, to a watchmaker, and some of the family history can be
traced through the census returns. However much remains obscure.
It was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited Series in
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
Beautiful, but no-nonsense Louisa Leyton (Gemma Jones) has one
driving ambition, to become a great cook. She gets herself hired in
that capacity in the household of Lord Henry Norton. A young,
wealthy, aristocratic guest, Charlie Tyrrell (Christopher Cazenove),
attempts to seduce the attractive redhead, but she rebuffs him. With
bold determination, she talks Monsieur Alex (George Pravda), his
lordship's disdainfully sexist French chef, into reluctantly
accepting her as an apprentice.
In that role, she catches the eye of the future King Edward VII and
they have a clandestine affair. Under great pressure from all sides
and against her own wishes, she marries butler Augustus 'Gus' Trotter
(Donald Burton) to protect the royal reputation. When Edward's
mother, Queen Victoria, dies and he assumes the throne, their
relationship comes to an end.
Louisa's cooking career takes off, but her marriage to Gus is
strained, both by her affair and by her success. To try to restore
his pride, she talks him into purchasing and running the Bentinck
Hotel, which comes with its own elderly butler, Merriman (John
Welsh). She interviews (or rather, is interviewed by) the brisk,
soldierly Starr (John Cater), who deigns to be employed as the
porter, always accompanied by his dog "Fred". Louisa also hires her
loyal Welsh assistant and friend, Mary (Victoria Plucknett), away
from their former mutual employer. (Late in the series, Starr and
Mary wed.) Rounding out the principal cast is Major Toby Smith-Barton
(Richard Vernon), an upper-class, retired Army officer, who runs up a
hotel bill he has difficulty paying, owing to a gambling habit.
Making the best of it, Louisa uses the Major in a variety of tasks:
adviser, greeter, bellhop, etc.
However, the authority goes to Gus's head. When she discovers that he
has squandered their hard-earned money, entertaining his freeloading
friends, and has driven away all the hotel guests with his arrogance,
she throws him out. With Mary's assistance, she struggles to pay off
the enormous debts her worthless husband had amassed, working
extraordinarily long hours. Finally, she collapses in the street one
morning due to overwork.
Fortuitously, Charlie Tyrrell is nearby (leaving a late night
assignation), and carts her home. When he learns of her financial
woes, he pays her debts and becomes a silent partner in the hotel,
with a suite permanently set aside for him. They have a passionate
romance, resulting in an illegitimate daughter, Lottie (Lalla Ward),
who is discreetly fobbed off on a couple working on Charlie's estate.
Eventually, he inherits the family title and becomes Lord Haslemere.
At the end of the first series, Charlie marries another woman (with
Louisa's approval) and tells Louisa that if his marriage has any hope
of working, it will have to be away from her, that he must 'grow up'
and not depend on her. Later, he becomes a widower and the two get
back together. They plan to marry after the end of World War I, but
tragically, he dies from war wounds, breaking Louisa's heart. She
eventually recovers and has to deal with their grownup daughter, when
Lottie discovers the identities of her real parents.
Louisa's parents occasionally make an appearance: her ineffectual,
but loved father (John Rapley) and her critical, abrasively selfish
mother (June Brown). Late in the series, her father dies, leaving a
large sum to his granddaughter Lottie to help her with her singing
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