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<p>To the Manor Born: The Complete Series (DVD)</p><p>Follow the hilarious misadventures of the uppercrust but impoverished Audrey Forbes-Hamilton (Penelope Keith), once Lady of Grantley Manor, and Richard Devere, the mysterious "common" millionaire who buys her ancestral Estate.</p>
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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-season 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 program'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 looking for a spot of nostalgia could do far worse. --Phil Udell
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