To The Manor Born

Upperclass woman Audrey fforbes-Hamilton finds herself forced to sell Grantleigh Manor, her families traditional home, however finds herself constantly meddling in the affairs of new owner and supermarket magnate Richard De Vere.

Lady Audrey fforbes-Hamilton (Penelope Keith) fell on hard times when her husband died. He left huge debts which forced her to sell Grantleigh Manor, which had been in her family for 400 years. Now she lives in The Lodge, a small house on the edge of the estate. It is not what she is used to, but Audrey is made of stern stuff.

Grantleigh’s new master offends all her snobbish instincts. Richard DeVere’s (Peter Bowles) made his fortune in supermarkets and now runs a multinational company. Furthermore, his father was a Polish immigrant grocer. As far as Audrey is concerned, he is just a noveau riche upstart, though she must admit he is also charming, rich and attractive. However, she has been the lady of the manor for so long, she cannot help meddling in estate matters, and the two frequently find themselves rubbing up the wrong way.

Meanwhile, Audrey’s closest friend and confidante, Marjory Frobisher (Angela Thorne – Three Up Two Down), has definitely fallen for this handsome millionaire bachelor. And as she and Audrey are the only passably attractive single women in the village, she might just stand a chance if only Audrey would stop antagonising him. Other regular characters in this awardwinning comedy are Brabinger, Audrey’s butler-cum-handyman, and DeVere’s live-in mother, Mrs Polouvicka, who is famous for her old Polish sayings.

To the Manor Born topped the British ratings in 1979-81. Penelope Keith was already a much-loved star from The Good Life and, apart from many very funny moments, Audrey and DeVere’s love-hate relationship was always spiced with that tantalising will-they/won’t-they? chance of romance which is only resolved in the very last episode, which drew a massive UK audience of 24 million.