In 1979, just as the country was becoming attuned to having its first female Prime Minster in Margaret Thatcher, another formidable lady was making her conservative views heard. That lady was Audrey fforbes-Hamilton, superbly portrayed by Penelope Keith in Peter Spence's To The Manor Born, the BBC sitcom which first graced our screens on September 30th.
Audrey, a recently widowed well-to-do upper-class elitist finds her life taking a downward spiral when, due to death duties, she is forced to sell her home; Grantleigh Manor in Somerset.
The buyer, to her dislike, is nouveau riche millionaire Ricard DeVere, portrayed equally superbly by Peter Bowles.
Downsizing, she moves into the estate's humble lodge accompanied by the family's loyal butler Brabinger (John Rutling) and her dog Bertie, where she is supported by her close friend Marjory Frobisher (Angela Thorne).
Eventually Audrey falls in love with the new lord of the manor and they are married in the final episode, aired on November 29th, 1981.
The three series, comprising twenty-one episodes, were massively popular with the seventh and final show of Series 1 attracting 23.95 million viewers, making it the most watched non-live event programme of the seventies.
On Christmas night 2007 audiences were reunited with Audrey and Richard when they returned in a one hour special to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. Written by Peter Spence, it was watched by over 10.25 million viewers.
Test how rich your knowledge is on this classy classic with the quiz below:
1. The title To The Manor Born is a play on a phrase that features in which Shakespearean tragedy?
c) Romeo and Juliet
2. Approximately, how many hundreds of years had the fforbes-Hamilton's resided at Grantleigh Manor?
3. How much did Richard DeVere pay for Grantleigh Manor?
4. What is the name of Richard's retail business?
a) Cavanagh Foods
b) Cavendish Foods
c) Caventon Foods
5. When Audrey learns that Richard is taking Marjory to the Summer Hunt Ball, she refuses to attend and instead stays at home playing which game with Brabinger?
6. Why did Audrey's faithful retainer Brabinger initially take leave from his post?
a) to visit his granddaughter
b) to visit his niece
c) to visit his sister
7. What was the cause of Richard breaking his leg?
a) He fell during a horse ride
b) He fell during skiing practice
c) He fell from a ladder
8. Where were Richard and Audrey when she asked him to marry her?
a) by the footbridge
b) by the manor
c) by Marton fforbe-Hamilton's grave
9. True or false? In the 2007 special, we are introduced to Adam fforbes-Hamilton, who is Audrey's godson and her late husband's cousin.
10. As a 25th wedding anniversary present, Richard gives Audrey a dog that is the same type as her long since departed Bertie. Which breed is it?
When you're ready, scroll down for the answers...
1. a - Hamlet. The full phrase is "Though I am a native here and to the manner born, it is a custom more honoured in the breach than the observance".
2. The fforbes-Hamilton's resided at Grantleigh Manor for 400 years.
3. c - Richard pays £876,000 for the manor in Episode 1. By the twenty first and final episode Audrey is able to buy Grantleigh back for £990,000 thanks to a generous bequest in her Uncle Greville's will.
4. b - Cavendish Foods.
5. c - To avoid having words with either Richard or Margery, a disgruntled Audrey and Brabinger play Scrabble.
6. a - to visit his granddaughter. John Rudling who played Brabinger was written out of the sitcom due to having suffered a heart attack and was absent from the 1979 Christmas special and the first four episodes of Series 2. He passed away in 1983 from respiratory complications.
7. b - Richard fell during skiing practice.
8. c - The proposal took place by Marton fforbe-Hamilton's grave. The wording on the grave reads: "Marton fforbes-Hamilton, 1931 - 1978, Gone to Ground, RIP."
9. False. Adam fforbes-Hamilton was Marton's nephew. Alexander Armstrong played Adam.
10. b - Audrey is presented with a Beagle, named Bertie the Second.
Published: Monday 30th September 2019