To the Manor Reborn starts filming

Wednesday 24th October 2007, 3:10am

Filming has begun on the new one-off Christmas special episode of To the Manor Born, the episode which is reuniting the cast of the hit sitcom for the first time in 16 years.

The show is set to reunite Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles as aristocratic Audrey Fforbes-Hamilton and millionaire businessman Richard Devere, as they celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. The episode joins the couple as a major event threatens to disturb life at the estate and Audrey, with the help of school friend Marjory, goes into battle to defend the community.

Filming on the new episode began at Cricket St Thomas Manor House this Sunday. The production is expected to be on location at the Somerset village, which was also the setting for the original series, for about a week.

Frances Pardell, spokesman for Warner Leisure Hotels which acquired the manor in 1999, told the local newspaper: "There will be some disturbance, but we will ensure that there is minimal disruption for our guests. The guests are the hotel's priority but I think a lot of people are excited they are here at the same time as filming - we had 50 people watching on the first day."

To the Manor Born, which started life as a BBC Radio 2 series, was broadcast on television between 1979 and 1981. The sitcom followed the story of the once wealthy Audrey fforbes-Hamilton who is forced to sell her stately home to supermarket owner Richard DeVere. She tries to teach him 'nobility' whilst coming to terms with her own reduced status as his tenant.

Millions tuned in to watch romance slowly blossom between the unlikely couple. In fact, To the Manor Born was the fourth most watched TV series in the 1970s. The final episode, in which Richard and Audrey finally got married, was seen by a massive 24 million viewers making it the second most watched British sitcom episode of all time (beaten only by the 1996 Only Fools and Horses special).

The new special, To the Manor Reborn, will be shown this Christmas on BBC1.

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