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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 5 December 2013
I bought the box set without ever having seen one episode and I have been delighted. This is a comic version of upstairs downstairs life where human eccentricities are exploited to the full and the English class system of yesteryear ( still evident today) shown to be more than an aristocratic vice. The episodes are fifty minuets long which I find just right and the plots complicated enough to allow multiple viewing. The characters,above stairs run the gamut of types to be found on the fringes of silly society even today, but perhaps the most notable are Teddy Meldrum, brother of Lord Meldrum the master of the house, a sort of Bertie Wooster who compromises the servant girls and has a fetish for carbolic soap, and Miss Sissy, a gay character with little real power who very much occupies the moral high ground with her concern for the poor. One miscalculation has to be Miss Poppy a very nasty and manipulative creature ( Lord Meldrum's immature and spiteful younger daughter ) I personaly could see no reason for including her. Superfluous, she has obvious behavioural issues and has as a consequence been spoilt. She is neither funny nor interesting and her appearances are a good excuse to make the tea. Below stairs the snobbery continues and a clear demarcation is made between the live in staff and the scullery maid who is not allowed to sit at table with 'her betters'. I think if some of these characterizations were not comic they would be revolting particularly Alf Stokes ( Paul Shane ) a liar and a cheat, who has falsified his way into the position of Butler. The star of below stars has to be Ivy the Parlour Maid, played by Sue Pollard. Right at the bottom of the pile Ivy's simple nature echos the concerns and fundamental goodness of Miss Sissy above stairs.

Many times as I watched these plays I found myself thinking of contemporaries in the world of celebrity and politics today. The vacuous life they lead and the selfish values they espouse, money, cheap night clubs, cars and rampant dishonesty chief amongst them. The close parallel to the world of politics is worrying, particularly the dishonesty of Alf Stokes the Butler. Nothing changes but it was also interesting to reflect that the most virtuous characters are a gay woman and a rather gentle parlour maid. Perhaps this says it all and maybe an old quote might be apposite ' all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely'. Good value for money and a wonderful comment upon human nature.
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on 15 December 2016
Although I have not been able to watch the whole set of four discs yet (Christmas rush), the first two are hilarious. Absolutely spiffing! The script is well up to the usual high standard of Perry and Croft. The acting is perfect, with timings, facial expressions and gestures just right. The actors all speak clearly and do not rush their lines as the next generation of actors tend to do. (Have they stopped teaching diction at drama school?) This allows the viewer to savour every moment of the farce. And it is farce, with a curious helping of social history thrown into the mix. You will enjoy the old cars, the costumes and the sets. There is a glorious scene at a meeting of aesthetic poets - you will howl with laughter - and then wonder how true to life it is. ( W S Gilbert touched on it in the opera Patience, and readers of the William books will also recognise the "type"). Lastly the saucy element which is constantly present is still dealt with delicately enough not to be offensive. Now that is something modern script writers seem unable to do! Sauce but not coarse! Think about it! Thoroughly recommended!
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Superb. Possibly the peak of Perry and Croft's prolific output?* Dad's Army is equally wonderful, but, despite sharing many qualities (and even a few actors), it's great in a very different way, primarily because it ran a lot longer and was entirely episodic.

What separates You Rang, M'Lord? from all the other similar looking sitcoms I've seen so far, inc. Perry and Croft's own other works/worlds (Dad's Army, It Ain't Half Hot, Mum and Hi-De-Hi), is the long form arc of the story, and the subsequent depth of character development. These qualities add a certain depth of humanity, and even poignancy of observation, to the all the usual qualities one finds in Perry and Croft comedies. All the actors are wonderfully enjoyable to watch, and, despite being comic stereotypes, have a depth of humanity that means you can become emotionally engaged, even as you laugh at them.

Donald Hewlett and Michael Knowles, 'brother officers' in It Ain't Half Hot, Mum, are here literally brothers, Lord and Teddy Meldrum, the former a philandering rubber magnate, the latter a maid-chasing idler. Lord Meldrum's daughters are lesbian socialist 'Cissy' and Poppy, a bitchy nightclubbing 'cat' who loves to flirt with the footman. The toff household is completed by Lavender, the dotty grandmother who lives with a parrot, and enjoys throwing food at the servants. Ralph and Lady Shawcross, Madge Cartwright, and the Bishop (Frank Williams, the Vicar in Dad's Army) and others are regular upstairs visitors. Downstairs are a trio of faces familiar from the Hi-De-Hi cast, Paul Shane, Jeffrey Holland and Su Pollard, augmented by Blanche (cook), Henry (boot-boy), and Mabel (char lady). Bill Pertwee, the ARP warden form Dad's Army is regular visitor Constable Wilson.

The story starts in WWI, with Paul Shane's Alf Stokes and Jeffrey Holland's James Twelvetrees as two British privates on the Western Front, who encounter the unconscious Teddy Meldrum in a shellhole, and use the pretext of rescuing him as a means to escape the front line. These two eventually wind up in the service of Teddy's brother, Lord Meldrum, as butler and footman. The series is set in the late 1920s, as the era it depicts is drawing to a close. It's a comedy of contrasting world's, upstairs/downstairs, with the toffs attempting to deal with their idle-rich issues whilst the 'help' muddle through their problems.

The scenario allows the writers to explore all sorts of issues that are both poignant and ripe for comic effect, from issues of class - a central plank of the series - whether it be how the wealthy exploit the less well off, or how even within the lower substrate there's a distinct pecking order (poor Mabel, the char lady, who's catchphrases - Perry and Croft are notorious for their catchphrase comedy - are 'I can't remember the least time I had ... [substitute 'pork chops, vintage port, mince pies', or whatever!]', and an ironic 'that'll be nice,' when she receives scraps from the kitchen table.), to romance, and social history.

Apparently this didn't fare as well as their previous series. That's sad. At least it was brought to completion. And it's fortunate that our modern media culture means we can make our own minds up about the merits of such things at our own leisure. My wife and I have watched this series several times already, and will undoubtedly do so again. We've even witnessed friends going from 'I can see why this wasn't a big hit' to 'you know, this is growing on me... it's really good!'

* Haven't seen Oh Dr Beeching! yet, so can't take that into account.
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on 14 August 2015
I have just finished watching the complete set of You Rang M'Lord and quite agree with the majority of other reviewers that it is extremely good. Some of the plot lines are downright daft but there are some classic scenes, such as Constable Wilson marrying Lady Lavender's parrots. The camera does not stay on him long as he appears to be trying not to laugh.

Two characters who do not always get a mention are Mabel and Henry both who seem to have some of the best one liners. Again there is a classic scene with "Lady" Mabel dancing by the bonfire at the family picnic with Lady Lavender who believes her to be similarly high-born aristocracy. James has to whisper in her ear hat "we have to humour Lady Lavender, Mabel but don't push your luck".

A good series and just like all aristocratically set series the end is the family falling on more meagre times. Upstairs Downstairs (both series) and now, I have just read in the DT today, even Downton when the Earl has to cut costs.
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VINE VOICEon 29 March 2014
You Rang M’Lord has always been a bit of a poor relation to Dad’s Army and Hi-di-Hi! In Perry and Croft’s comic canon, but watching it again after nearly twenty five years confirmed my original belief that this is one of their very best series. The reasons for this assertion are manifold: not least the quality of the casting which ensures every line and character is exploited to the full. Then there is the situation itself-the Upstairs Downstairs scenario is a perfect vehicle for comedy affording the writers countless amusing situations and the chance to occasionally turn the humour sharp with Paul Shane’s butler portrayed as a servant whose contempt for his employers is only matched by the number of bottles of fine Claret he can steal from their cellars. Donald Hewlett is also excellent as the hypocritical Lord who preaches morality to his daughters whilst having his ‘sick’ mistress to stay overnight as often as possible. Special mention must also be made of Su Pollard who is excellent as the naive but willing maid and Jeffrey Holland whose strictness and loyalty are used to great comic effect. This series is also notable in the length of its episodes which at 50 minutes allow for a greater development of plot and character and undoubtedly produce a better end product. The production values are also higher than many sitcoms of this era with lavish sets and props. Although no extras are offered on this set, this remains a must buy for fans of classic comedy. One other tip: make sure you buy the box set of all four series as the story develops slowly over the course of the episodes. Recommended.
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on 12 June 2016
This is by far the best comedy by Croft and Perry. Every character is meticulously fleshed out and the series is character driven all through along with excellent, hilarious stories. A great collection. My only complaint is that the pilot is cut by about 10-15 minutes. The original, which I still have on an old video tape recorded off the TV, lasts an hour. This spoils it as some scenes are short and end abruptly but that's my only moan about this brilliant box set! A booklet would have been nice, as well as some out-takes on the DVDs, but no complaints as it took so long for this to be released on DVD. Ideal comedy to switch off to and escape the stresses of life.
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on 2 November 2014
When I first watched this in the late eighties I wasn't over impressed, simply because it followed in the wake of such great comedies as Hi De Hi, It ain't half hot mum, Dad's Army etc, which were true masterpieces never to be repeated. A very hard act to follow.

Now, 25 years on I went through every episode of You Rang M'Lord and I confess it came over as an exceptional comedy series and found it very entertaining. The two stars of the show (in my opinion) were Ivy (played by that ever talented Sue Pollard) and Henry (Perry Benson, I think), whose oneliners were a masterpiece not only in the writing but in the performance as well. All the cast played their parts to the full and when you think they were collected, not only from the three programmes as above, but also from Reginald Perrin as well, it just shows the class of the acting involved.

OK it wouldn't pass muster with the politically correct brigade nowadays, but personally I don't care. It is their loss. The likes of this will not be seen on television again, so I would recommend buying it for the very low price that it costs. I shall be watching it again and will enjoy it as much as the first time round.
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on 28 October 2014
After ploughing through Downton, the many virtues of this superlative sit-com become even more apparent.
There are no cosy fantasies about how nice life was in a "great house" of that period, and the dark side of class resentment is given its proper due --- and yet it still manages to be very very funny.
Lord Meldrum is closer to the truth than Lord Grantham, one feels. Alf Stokes is a much more interesting creation than Carson. In fact, many of the characters, although played for broad comedy, have greater depth and subtlety than those of Downton Abbey. The characters of James Twelvetrees and Miss Poppy are very uncomfortable ones, but somehow this strengthens the drama from which the comedy arises. It all combines to elevate YRML to a higher level than is usual, even in the best sit-coms.
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on 12 November 2010
I was unsure about buying this as I thought it might seem dated. Well I am pleased to say it doesn't. In fact I should have known, it being by the wonderful Perry and Croft who brought us the classic, Dad's Army. The wonderful thing about their shows is that they set them in an era, You Rang M'Lord being the roaring twenties and so it doesn't matter whether you watch it now or in fifty years time - it won't date!

I remember really enjoying this series on tv. Watching it again, I had forgotten how wonderful and funny it was! The risque script, the characterisation, wonderful storylines, and the whole ambience of the 20's. It's wonderful production, great set and costumes. It really captures the era and you feel drawn into the scenes like one of the family.

I think, like Dad's Army, the series has many layers. Besides the comedy it actually goes deeper and hits on the whole social aspect of living in that post WWI era.

The characters all have their own little idiosyncrasies which I had completely forgotten about. The lovely Lady Lavender who enjoys throwing her food tray at hapless maid, Ivy. The honourable Teddy Meldrum who loves servants with their shiny, scrubbed faces (hilarious), Cissy Meldrum who dresses as a man, Ivy Teasdale the naive maid, (who's comic timing is genius) and poor Henry the bootboy who keeps getting his ears boxed.

It's risque, but never goes over the line, many of the jokes being double entendres.

Wonderful classic stuff!
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on 13 June 2016
I'm utterly biased, because Jeffrey Holland, who plays haughty footman James Twelvetrees, is my big brother!
Nevertheless - this was a brilliant, funny and well-written show by Perry and Croft, and I never tire of watching all four seasons through, time and time again! Another TV Classic!
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