For devotees left hungry for more at the conclusion of The Duchess of Duke Street,
Gemma Jones re-creates her signature role as the indomitable Louisa Trotter, the former scullery maid who left her mark on turn-of-the-century England as "the finest cook in London" and the reigning mistress of Hotel Bentinck, in the second set of this series. As her own mother remarks, Louisa "has done very well. She's moved up in the world." The Bentinck is no Fawlty Towers.
Louisa, based on the real-life Rosa Lewis, the proprietor of the fashionable Cavendish Hotel, presides over her domain with a stiff-backed iron rule. She is, as one of her staff remarks, "a tough customer ... a woman with spirit." Throughout these 16 episodes, packaged in six volumes, both she and her employees will be severely tested. Louisa's troublemaking brother inspires mutiny among the devoted staff, and Louisa is besieged by mysterious love letters. Darkening the horizon is the deepening shadow of World War I. This long-sought sequel to one of Masterpiece Theatre's finest hours boasts the same impeccable production values and peerless ensemble acting. Make your reservation. --Donald Liebenson
Second half of the second series. In 'Part 4' as the First World War draws to an end, Charlie returns home to nurse his wounds, but things are not as they used to be. The hotel is sinking further into debt, and Louisa has to reassess her life whilst distancing herself from everyone. In 'Part 5' it is now 1911 and Louisa is struggling to keep daughter Lottie on a righteous path. Her mother has a place in polite society earmarked for her, but the willful girl is intent on a singing career and a relationship with feckless bounder Howard Blenkiron. Meanwhile, a writer is snooping around, trying to get Louisa to tell him about her rise from kitchen maid to the finest cook in England.