Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Berkeley Square - The Complete Series
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What a great series! I had never before seen it on television and, loving period pieces as I do, decided to make the purchase. It was worth every penny! My sister, who also loves period pieces, came over. Together, we hunkered down and proceeded to watch the entire series in one sitting, all eight and a half hours of it. We were positively riveted to the screen, so engrossing and well acted is the series.
The series centers around three young women, Mattie, Lydia, and Hannah, brought by fate to posh Berkley Square in turn of the twentieth century London. All three work in households where they are employed as nannies. All three meet and become fast friends.
Mattie is a an experienced nanny, who was brought up in the tough East End of London and, consequently, is firmly capable of holding her own. She works for a family that is on the unpleasant side with two children, a boy and a girl. The boy is a positive little beast, and the household is run by a crafty and cunning housekeeper. Mattie's benign and pleasant, baby faced countenance, however, belies a will of iron. She most certainly can take care of herself and hold her own with this motley crew.
Lydia, the fresh faced and naive country girl, works for a wonderful family, as assistant to a nanny who is like an old family retainer. She watches over the baby, the first child of her employer's second wife, who is an American with modern, egalitarian views. The only blight on her existence, is the grown, handsome son from her employer's first marriage.
Hannah has a more unusual history, as she is an unwed mother. She worked as a lady's maid for one of Yorkshire's first families. A love affair with her employer's handsome, only son leads to the birth of their illegitimate son. When her child's father unexpectedly dies, she and her child are forced to flee Yorkshire. She ends up in London, where a chance meeting with Lydia finds her accepting employment in a household in Berkley square, working with the nanny from hell.
The series revolves around their experiences and that of the families for whom they work. Over time, the threads of their lives are woven in such a way that they make for an intriguing tapestry of events. Very well acted, with engaging performances by all, and first rate production values, this is a series well worth having in one's collection and is recommended to all who love a well made, period piece.
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on February 25, 2002
Following in the tradition of such fantastic BBC mini-series brought to the U.S. via "Masterpiece Theatre" as "The Grand," "The Pallisers" and "Upstairs, Downstairs," "Berkeley Square" holds up well for lovers of Victorian/Edwardian-era costume dramas cum lavish soap operas.
"Berkeley Square" focuses on the very end of the Victorian era, and the begining of the Edwardian phase, taking place in 1902, when all of Britain was celebrating the coronation of a new king. Like "The Grand" (my personal favorite) or "Upstairs, Downstairs," "Berkeley Square" focuses on the difference in the classes, highlighting the lives of three nannies: Mattie, Hannah and Lydia, all of whom work in the stately homes on Berkeley (pronounced "Barkley" by the Brits) Square. It's also a fairly accurate depiction of a subject little discussed in most series--the fate of children in Victorian England. Watch "Berkeley Square" with a modern sensibility and you'll be shocked how the "privileged" class looks upon their children. (Something like children speaking when presented at an adult social event is enough to cause "extreme embarrassment" for their parents and the possible dismissal of a nanny and, like real upper class Victorians, these parents rarely see their offspring, generally leaving 100% of the child-rearing to servants.)
You first meet Mattie, the goodie-two-shoes of the group, as she starts her new job as nanny to the Sinjin family. Mrs. Sinjin is less than happy in her marriage and is carrying on a flirtation--that could so easily lead to more--with the dashing, and quite possibly diabolical, Captain Henry Morgan. Mattie's nursery maid, Pringle, is less than thrilled with her lot in life (she wanted to be named nanny herself) and tends to take it out on the children, including often obnoxious, eldest son Tom. Further downstairs, the cook and the housekeeper have problems of their own and don't really need a new nanny bossing them around. Among other things, Mrs. McClousky, the head housekeeper, is trying to keep her son, Ned, from being arrested for murder.
Hannah's life is equally in flux. A former ladies maid who fell in love with a Lord, Hannah is content to live with ridicule as long as she has her illegitimate son, who is doted on by his aristocratic father, William, who flouts convention by openly loving Hannah, though he can't marry her. All that changes when William dies in a horse race (I'm not giving anything away--this happens about 2-1/2 minutes after we first meet Hannah). Suddenly, Hannah, already an outcast and deemed a "wicked woman" by Victorian standards, is alone in the world with a child to raise.
Lydia is a country girl and moving to London to become a nursemaid will make her the most successful member ever of her family--that is if her uneducated father lets her go. But naive Lydia has a lot to learn about the big city, not the least of which is how touchy the elderly nanny can be when Lydia starts to invade her turf AND how so-called "gentlemen" of the household, like Lord Hugh, can make a country girl's life very unpleasant indeed.
This 10-hour mini-series follows the lives of Mattie, Hannah, Lydia, and the families they work for, and will keep you engrossed throughout (each episode ends with a cliffhanger, making you glad you've got the DVD and don't have to wait for the next TV airing to find out what happens next). My main complaint, and why I didn't give this series five stars, is the lack of early character development. People pop in an out of the series rather randomly, and with little introduction. The nannies also become "fast friends" by episode two even though they've supposedly only met once, during a walk in the park where they spoke less than two minutes to one another. Despite this they suddenly know each other inside and out, including knowing everyone that each other knows. It's almost as if the episode where they bonded ended up on the cutting room floor. Despite this, you do quickly become engaged in the character's lives.
Also frustrating is the innumerable loose ends just left hanging at the end of the series. Many characters outcomes are left unknown and several story lines simply disappear. The series could have quite easily, and entertainingly, been extended. (Apparently, the writers didn't know it was over at episode 10, assuming the BBC would order more episodes.) But, all in all, "Berkeley Square" is a great way for an Anglophile to spend a weekend!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon April 12, 2011
A wonderful 1902 period London Victorian drama. Activity surrounding three nannies in different posh families makes for dialogue and interaction between the classes. It's a shade like "Upstairs Downstairs" yet something unique too. Each of the 3 girls: Matty (Claire Wilkie-`Eastenders'),uneducated Lydia (Tabathia Wady-`Doctors' `Sense & Sensibility'), & Hannah (Victoria Smurfit-`Trial and Retribution' `Ballykissangel') have different backgrounds with Hannah perhaps being the most `colorful' having born a child through a relationship with a former Yorkshire upper. The girls become friends as well as soldiers tending the care of those rich youngsters. Of course the activity and lively constitution that the upper class families provide adds to the storyline, making its mark on the nannies hopes and dreams.

Britain seems to have a hold on top quality Victorian series. The fact it is a period story makes the series very re-watchable. The settings, costumes, and props are first rate, a standard for British made turn-of the century Victorian tales. This is simply one of those many produced that have and will continue to be sold and watched, like classic Victorian novels.

Also to be watched is part-nasty Nanny Collins (Rosemary Leach-many roles, I like "Titmus Regained' `A Room with a View')and full-nasty Nanny Simmons (Ruth Sheen-'Lorna Doone' 'Vanity Fair') who is the head nanny to the Hutchinson kids where Irish Hannah assists. Ned Jones (Jason O'Mara-`Life on Mars' "Monarch of the Glen' 2 great series) who is besotted by Matty (aka Sarge) and he sparkles back adding some interesting romance to their lives--and with footman Jones' violent past, tsk, tsk. Expect some intrigue and scandal along with the treks to the park and smiles. This is no "Mary Poppins" revival. This is more in line how British Victorian life of the posh as portrayed in the UK, not Disneyland. I like both, so I have no problem swallowing a bit of sour pickle with the sugar plums. Solid drama. What is life in 1902 without a few villains and some conflict?

Episodes (NO subtitles) approx 50 min ea:
1 Pretty Maids all in a Row
Matty, Hannah, Lydia, & Nanny Simmons & Collins introduction episode.
2 Hide and Seek
The nannies settle, get acquainted in the park, and Ned Jones gets a position.
3 Ladybird, Ladybird
Secrets-kidnapping-liaisons-wreckage & more around pre-coronation events.
4 All on a Summer's Day
Picnic day in the country has good and bad moments.
5 A Pocketful of Posies
Unwanted advances, unidentified giver of nose gays, unwanted disease, and an inside robbery involve the nannies.
6 When the Bough Breaks
Disaster at St. Johns #5 on Coronation Day. Lydia lives in fear at #17. Extraordinary day at Berkeley Square.
7 Gone a'Hunting
All sorts of trouble happens at the Wilton hunting/shooting event.
8 Who Killed Cock Robin?
Sons turn up missing, found, and found-out all a part of the unraveling complexity of Berkeley Sq.'s conflicts of Oct, 1902.
9 Wednesday's Child
Police look for murderers, and the quests reach two Berkeley Sq homes.
10 I, Said the Sparrow
the story wraps up in this final episode with some happy resolves, some tragic ends, and some issues caught in the middle of emotion. Leaves you wanting more, a sign of a good series. No bonus materials.

Not as funny as "Duchess of Duke Street" and not as romantic as `Pride and Prejudice" but it has its rightful niche in the halls of fine British Victorian (Edwardian) Drama.

Household names might be helpful:
Matty: Arnold/Victoria St. John, Tom, Harriet. Mrs. McC, Ned Jones, Pringle
Hannah: Albert/Elspeth Hutchinson at #5, Master Bertie, Charles. Nanny Simmons, Bowles
Lydia: George/Constance Lamson-Scribener at #17, baby Ivo. Nanny Collins, Fowler, Gibbons.
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on January 29, 2001
For those who like long stories, plenty of characters, and human entanglements galore, this one's for you. Three young women from quite different backgrounds go into service as Nannies to three upper-crust households in exclusive, respectable Berkeley Square. How will they manage? those who like BBC-style period drama will be glued to the screen as we find out.
As upstairs staff and caretakers of the offspring, our girls are in the midst of the family and, of course, ideally placed to observe the family dramas... infidelity, marital discord, and of course the "goings on" among the servants. This miniseries harks back to the best of the "women's films" of the 30's, with strong, appealing female leads who struggle with all the traditional female burdens: a rigid class hierarchy, Edwardian morality, harsh and unjust employers, and their troublesome, love-hungry charges.
We've got everything here: illegitimate children, forged references, baby-swapping, baby-farming, handsome but none-too-bright young man in trouble with the Law, Dickensian old women with terrifying personalities, dashing young Guardsman angling for wealthy marriage, children made to recite the colours of vanished Regiments before they are given a present, cuckolded husband trying pathetically to keep up appearances, frigidly vicious Society grandes dames, poor little rich boy terrorized by nasty governess, horrid young ne'er-do-well trying to molest the help -- In a word, it's lavishly "dishy" and great fun as our heroines cope with one crisis after another.
Period setting and costume seems very consistent and well mounted, and the interiors are delightful (with appropriate soundstage too, a point on which British TV drama used to be a bit weak). The young actresses are a treat -- nicely cast, charming, true to type, and quite individual -- and the supporting cast is a pleasure. Some of the minor roles are so well played as to steal all their scenes ("Mrs B" comes to mind), and if a couple of the characters seem a bit wooden -- well, it is Edwardian, don't you know :-)
This is a wonderful boxed set with which to regale yourself and the family (if the children are not too young) on a series of chilly winter nights. A hot cuppa, a blanket to cuddle under, and the riveting adventures of Our Heroines -- fine, simple, old-fashioned story-telling fun!
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on April 5, 2007
Three girls become nannies in London in 1902. Each works for a different household. The three become friends as they meet in the park with their strollers.

The first five episodes of the ten are a pleasant, yet lively pace of intrigue within attractive English homes and parks.

The pleasantness gives way to intrigue as the scandals, which have been building, explode in episode six. You find you have been lulled into a soap-opera abounding in sin: fornication, adultery, lying, deceit, manslaughter, seduction, extortion, child endangerment and neglect, to name just a few. The film is far from the "warm-hearted family drama" advertised on the cover.

It is an enticing film. The story is intriguing. The film balances intrigue with pleasant dialogue; the actors are attractive in attractive costumes; the acting is fine within attractive surroundings. Children are present. All the good characters weakly display some virtue.

It is helpful to know that Laudanum is morphine derived from opium mixed with alcohol, sold over-the-counter then, to relieve pain and induce sleep. Doctors knew it was addictive, and deadly in too large a dose.

The characters draw you into the soap opera by displaying promising virtue, but then betraying that virtue (moving back and forth). Opposing minds within the same person. Science says that one mind must eventually win out.
« Red-head, Nanny Hannah Randall opposes child endangerment in one instance, but fails to inform the parents in another instance, who were due informing; and the endangerment continues. Hannah appears to wish to do Right, but fails to consistently act with the resolution of one with single mind to see Right through.
« The aunt expresses her good moral principles, but later gives way to extortion.
« The older nanny stands against the bad guy, but later makes a subtle statement justifying the seduction, extortion, and malice.
« The first half is pleasant, but in the end, a couple of the "good characters" have lied and deceived, causing devastating harm to another, taking away all the pleasantness. In the end, you have not experienced a world of cheer, humor, music, singing, fun, and characters to admire.

A thoughtful film does not need all the scandal. It is interesting enough with the three girls starting jobs as nannies, as servants, the pretty London parks, difficult bosses, other servants, friendships, the charm and mischief of the children, working at doing a good job, what a good nanny is. Add some fun, humor, music, singing, adventures, and characters coming to values to admire.

The lack of many good period films makes this pretty, intriguing, soap opera of technical ability, in which good does not win out, appear desirable. You will enjoy the 8 hours, but be left empty in the end, (Romance without Love). I will not keep it.

I recommend these better films: "Pride and Prejudice-2005, 1996, & 1940", "Wives and Daughters", "North and South", "Middlemarch", "All Creatures Great and Small", "Pollyanna-2002", "Heidi", "Anne of Green Gables", "Under the Greenwood Tree", and "Road to Avonlea seasons 1-6".

If you must have a film of intrigue; "The Way We Live Now" is far better, because the bad-guys are openly bad from the start. The 5-hour, series has great acting; including a young man wasting his family's money and lying to various girlfriends. If there was not one, very brief, non-graphic, scene of the young-man attempting to rape his girlfriend on a busy street; I would recommend the film. The film has a moral: that living a life of deceit leads to trouble and emptiness.
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on September 9, 2011
I just stumbled on this miniseries recently (via Netflix) and loved it. I don't how this escaped my notice previously. There are other reviews on here that summarise the plot and characters of this late Victorian/Edwardian drama focusing on the lives of three very different young nannies who work in London's posh Berkeley Square, so I won't repeat all that.

If you enjoy the usual BBC Sunday evening/Masterpiece Theatre period dramas, this is one to add to your list - it's well-acted, has interesting characters, suspense, romance and is visually appealing. Despite being made not too long ago, it has more the feel of classic dramas and programmes from the "golden age" of mini-series than some of the more modern ones that try too hard to be different, cutting-edge or provocative. The only disappointment is that some of the story lines are wrapped up too quickly at the end and others left hanging. I think there was enough material to make another series.
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on September 16, 2001
Berkeley Square is a perfect blend of costuming, sets, characters, acting and plot. The storyline is sinfully extreme--- an aspect that may not be carried off well in most films, but thanks to a solid and perfectly cast ensemble, the plot flows seamlessly and without an hint of tack. I must rave about the costuming in this piece--- anyone who adores historical eye candy will wilt for the high necklines and stunning interior sets. The BBC has done a fabulous job on this mini-series... except for the decision to stop there! You want so much more of everything Berkeley Square: its wonderful cast, costumes, plot, setting and... well everything is perfect. Recommended for any fans of historical drama, especially those interested in costuming and good acting. This production does not suffer from a lack of well-known talent. The three ladies of Berkeley Square are talented, gorgeous and solid. Some of the best acting I've seen. You will get lost in the beauty of Berkeley Square.
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on April 17, 2001
Having seen a great deal from the BBC made available on video, this is one of the best! The stories of three British families and their respective staffs are magically interwoven - in fact, there are remarkably smooth transitions as these tales unfold piece-by-piece in each of the houses. You'll find good insight into British attitudes about their own class system and social behavior of the early 20th century. It's refreshing to see an American wife in one house: her "Yankee" frankness and outspokenness adds a nice twist to the otherwise very British cast of characters. This is a wonderful dramatic series, which leaves you wishing for more stories like it. The costumes, the props, the settings and scenery, the pace of and variety of plot within each the stories themselves, AND the acting all add up to make this truly one of the best I've seen. I agree - this one is NOT to be missed!
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on January 18, 2003
I began watching this series and got completely engrossed immediately. The characters were quite believable and the stories were all woven together delightfully. However, we watched all 8.5 hours of the series only to be left completely hanging! There is no closure, and you are left to wonder what happens to all the characters. It's a shame that a sequel was never made, and if it was I would buy it immediately. At any rate, you should only invest the time in this if you have 8.5 hours to spare and you don't mind that you will never know how the stories end. If you like to finish stories in your head, this movie is for you.
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What a great series! I had never before seen it on television and, loving period pieces as I do, decided to make the purchase. It was worth every penny! My sister, who also loves period pieces, came over. Together we hunkered down and proceeded to watch the entire series in one sitting, all eight and a half hours of it. We were positively riveted to the screen, so engrossing and well acted is the series.
The series centers around three young woman, Mattie, Lydia, and Hannah, brought by fate to posh Berkley Square in turn of the twentieth century London. All three work in households where they are employed as nannies. All three meet and become fast friends.
Mattie is a an experienced nanny, who was brought up in the tough East End of London and, consequently, is firmly capable of holding her own. She works for a family that is on the unpleasant side with two children, a boy and a girl. The boy is a positive little beast, and the household is run by a crafty and cunning housekeeper. Mattie's benign and pleasant, baby faced countenance, however, belies a will of iron. She most certainly can take care of herself and hold her own with this motley crew.
Lydia, the fresh faced and naive country girl, works for a wonderful family, as assistant to a nanny who is like an old family retainer. She watches over the baby, the first child of her employer's second wife, who is an American with modern, egalitarian views. The only blight on her existence, is the grown, handsome son from her employer's first marriage.
Hannah has a more unusual history, as she is an unwed mother. She worked as a lady's maid for one of Yorkshire's first families. A love affair with her employer's handsome, only son leads to the birth of their illegitimate son. When her child's father unexpectedly dies, she and her child are forced to flee Yorkshire. She ends up in London, where a chance meeting with Lydia finds her accepting employment in a household in Berkley square, working with the nanny from hell.
The series revolves around their experiences and that of the families for whom they work. Over time, the threads of their lives are woven in such a way that they make for an intriguing tapestry of events. Very well acted, with engaging performances by all, and first rate production values, this is a series well worth having in one's collection and is recommended to all who love a well made, period piece.
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