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The Duchess of Duke Street

By Donald Liebenson

From the golden age of PBS's Masterpiece Theatre comes this beloved British miniseries by the creators of Upstairs, Downstairs. Gemma Jones gives a performance for the ages in this rags-to-riches saga that charts the ascendancy of the indomitable Louisa Trotter, who rose from scullery maid to become "the finest cook in London" and Edwardian society's premier hostess. Inspired by the true story of Rosa Lewis, who held court at her renowned Cavendish Hotel, The Duchess of Duke Street is the video equivalent of a good read. Immerse yourself in this lavishly mounted BBC production that impeccably re-creates a bygone era at the turn of the century and captivates viewers with the tragedies and triumphs of Louisa's story, which includes an ill-fated affair with the Prince of Wales, an unhappy marriage, and struggles with bankruptcy and ill health. But Louisa, Cockney accent intact, prevails as the reigning mistress of Hotel Bentinck.

This series was created and produced by John Hawksworth and co-produced by Richard Beynon. The story starts in the year 1900 and ends in 1925.


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Check out our The Duchess of Duke Street forum! Do you have a favorite episode of the show? What do you remember about the series? Do you have any questions about it or its stars? Now you can post comments and questions directly to our TV forums! Click here to see what other The Duchess of Duke Street viewers have said or to post your own comments about the show!

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Duchess of Duke Street is probably my all-time favorite television series. Aside from being an Edwardiana buff, I am a fan of the real Louisa, Rosa Lewis, as well, and have read all but one of the books written about her. (I have the other on order.) I enjoy the faithfulness of Louisa's character/personality to Rosa's and I enjoy piecing the real personalities and events into those created for the series. Rosa, for example, never had a child. If she had, would she have chosen Lord Ribblesdale as the father--and is Charlie not Ribblesdale? Is the Major really Sir William Eden? He looks like him? Is Mary really Edith Jeffrey. Merriman's real name was Moon. Starr's was Scott (Dirty Scotty). Fred's name was Fred. I have many episodes on tape and flip them on, pour a brandy, and enjoy when sleep refuses to come. I'd like to see the show back on TV.


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Aired: 1976-1977

Cast: Gemma Jones (Louisa Trotter), Christopher Cazenove (Charlie 'Lord Haslemere' Tyrrell), Richard Vernon (Major Toby Smith-Barton), John Cater (John Starr), Victoria Plucknett (Mary Phillips), John Welsh (Merriman)

Network: BBC,PBS

Genre: Drama

Theme song

Image courtesy of the BBC

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