Wednesday, April 25, 2007

goodbye audrey forbes-hamilton

And goodbye to you as well, charming Mr. DeVere. Today I was finally forced to part with my box set of the complete To The Manor Born dvds. Who knew I would develop such a strange affinity for the British upper class?

The basic premise of To The Manor Born is this: Mrs. Forbes-Hamilton's family has occupied the Grantliegh Estate for over 400 years, however, her late husband Martin ran it into financial ruin. She learns, on the happy occasion of his funeral, that the estate is bankrupt and she will have to sell Grantliegh Manor and leave her ancestral home. Poor thing.

A rich businessman named Richard DeVere buys the manor and moves in with his Czechoslovakian mother and lots of big plans to turn the estate into a real working farm, which he hopes will supply some of his grocery stores with produce. Audrey is effronted by his being a businessman and (gasp) a foreigner. She moves into the old Grantliegh Manor Lodge, a tiny cottage at the end of the drive, to keep an eye on Mr. DeVere and their love-hate relationship begins.

The characters are all so sweet and the stories are so simple and engaging, it's just a shame there were only three seasons. I was surprised to feel so much sympathy with Audrey's interest in maintaining old traditions and mores. There was a sense of everything having a place that really appealed to me, for some reason.

I was also surprised to get from her such a sense of stewardship of both the land and the community. The idea of noblesse oblige arises in at least one of the shows, although it runs as a theme throughout. The idea that those who were born with advantage owe something back to the world. I know this was just a television show and who knows what the real Audrey Forbes-Hamiltons of the world are/were like, but I still found it inspiring.

And I'm sad to have dropped it back at the library. It's like I've just lost the company of a friend. And it's also like I am a big nerd. Oh well. I guess that's not news.


Blogger zuhn said...

There are quite a few words that come to mind to describe your attachment to these fictional characters but 'nerd' isn't one of them...

4:14 PM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

oh really? then why don't you share some of your vocabulary with us, smartypants.

8:59 PM  
Blogger zuhn said...

Um...sensitive! Yeah, that's it. And uh...empathetic.

6:46 AM  
Blogger stumptown dreamer said...

audrey and richard... i think you are right on with something about how many messages and 'lessons' there were in that hilarious 70's and early 80's comedy. the UK at that time was just coming out of a heavy, labor government, and Margaret Thatcher was about to be voted in... issues of class, of taxation, of socialism, of how to tend to history and at the same time leap into something of modernity, To The Manor Born i am sure is ready to be deconstructed by social theorists and Portland blogsters alike...
perhaps too the caring for the land, the connection to a piece of land, that deeper sense of place on the earth...
or pabst i am going way off target with my own meanderings!

2:10 PM  
Blogger hterrell55 said...

I was sincerely moved by your critique of To The Manor Born because I, too, just finished viewing (10 minute ago) the last episode and mirror your feelings exactly--I felt as if I knew these characters as real people. The simple,lifelike plots, which were so character driven, made me feel connected to this place and time. I will miss them all very much.
Jolly good show!

9:23 AM  

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