To the Manor Born
is another BBC sitcom from the genre's golden age, one that came to dominate the ratings during its initial three series run from 1979-80. Providing Penelope Keith with her first major role after The Good Life
, the show focuses on a way of life that now appears hard to comprehend, with storylines concerning hunt balls, village committees and eccentric brigadiers only adding to the dated feel. What provided the programme's key interest, however, was not the terribly quaint Little England setting but the burgeoning relationship between Keith's Audrey Fforbes-Hamilton and Richard De Vere (Peter Bowles), the new owner of Audrey's old home, Grantleigh Manor. It's all very, very English (the show is set in a village called Cricket St. Thomas) and the continuing use of farce almost creates a sense of parody: but look beyond the infuriating stereotypes and there is some sharp writing going on, predating the city vs countryside debate by nearly two decades. Penelope Keith is, as ever, fantastic value and while new viewers may simply not get the joke, those after a spot of nostalgia could do far worse. --Phil Udell
The entire three series of the popular comedy, plus the 25th anniversary special. Recently widowed Audrey Fforbes-Hamilton (Penelope Keith) is aghast when she is forced to sell her ancestral home to millionaire grocery magnate Richard De Vere (Peter Bowles). Taking up residence at the nearby Lodge, Audrey decides to educate the new lord of the manor in his civic duties, and it is not long before the pair are locking horns over Richard's planned modernisation of Grantley.