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Masterpiece Theatre - Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton (2007)

Anna Madeley , JJ Feild , Jon Jones  |  NR |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Anna Madeley, JJ Feild, Jim Carter, Anna Chancellor, Siobhan Hayes
  • Directors: Jon Jones
  • Writers: Kathryn Hughes, Sarah Williams
  • Producers: Jessica Pope, Katherine Lannon, Sue Smith
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: June 19, 2007
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000PFUA7S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,376 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Masterpiece Theatre - Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Just as Nigella Lawson and Martha Stewart have turned Americans and Britons into nations of wannabe domestic goddesses, the Victorians had their own preacher in the shape of Mrs. Isabella Beeton.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
152 of 156 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story behind the myth of Mrs. Beeton June 2, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It's odd, when you first move away from home, and suddenly, you're faced with running a household. Meals prepared, a home to keep clean and tidy and stocked, emergencies that happen and you're not sure if the professionals need to be called in, or can you handle it by yourself. There's a thousand questions that need to be answered, and if you were lucky (or smart) as a kid, you learned them when you were growing up. Even in this age of marvels, these answers can be elusive, and I wonder how much more so it must have been in our grandmothers and great-grandmothers times.

Welcome to the time of Mrs. Beeton, when England was firmly entrenched in the Victorian period of the nineteenth century, and the Industrial Revolution was creating a new middle class. Only thing was, many of these women who were the daughters and wives of these new households were suddenly full of questions about how to manage servants, what was expected socially, how to dress and everything that could possibly be imagined. And in a class conscious world, women were already expected to know how to do all this.

The film opens with an elegantly dressed woman observing a funeral. She has something about her that immediately catches our attention, perhaps it's the ready smile, or the clever look in her eyes. This, she annouces, is the funeral of a nobody, indeed, it's her own. And who is she? Why none other than Mrs. Beeton herself...

We first meet Isabella Mayson (Anna Madeley) as a young woman just returned from schooling in Germany. Eldest of an enormous brood of children and stepchildren, Bella's not quite so skilled in the gracious arts of a middle class girl, but she has a quick and clever mind, and when she meets the son of a family friend, it's love at first sight for them both.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of an unconventional Victorian marriage April 15, 2008
Mrs Beeton's 1861 guide to running a household was popular among Victorian housewives, and her legacy lives on till today, though the format of her book has gone through lots of revisions since then. This Masterpiece Theatre offering paints a portrait of Mrs Beeton's life from her early courtship by Mr Samuel Beeton, marriage and business partnership with her husband till her demise. The narration interestingly enough is by Mrs Beeton [Anna Madeley] herself after her death.

Anna Madeley plays her role very convincingly, and though much of the story here is based on speculation, the story does not get far-fetched nor too droll. It is well-done and the casting is excellent.Anna Madeley is also the actress who played the role of Lucy Steele in the 2007 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. There are many familiar actors in this production. JJ Field's who plays the role of Sam Beeton was also cast as Mr Tilney in the 2007 adaptation of Northanger Abbey, and the actress portraying Mrs Beeton's mother also played Caroline Bingley in the 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice.

The story itself centers around a young, ambitious and intelligent woman, Isabella, who follows her heart and marries Samuel Beeton, a publisher of not much means, and after deciding that she is not really made for the role of a housewife [something that was demanded by Victorian mores of the time], scandalises her conservative parents by going to work with her husband in his publishing business. They decide to publish a book on aspects of domesticity and which proves to be a big hit upon publication.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story August 5, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This could have been a downer, but because of the wonderful actress and personality of Mrs. Beeton (would be nice if she was really that smart, clever, funny and positive), it was very well enjoyable. All the actors were fantastic. Isabella Beeton was a remarkable woman and her perseverance against so many awful things was quite inspiring.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars period dramas August 6, 2007
I bought this particular video because it was a period piece. It was not exactly what I expected but I did enjoy it enough to decide to keep it and watch it again. It does tell an intriguing story in a very gentle way.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Secret Life of the British Housewife May 12, 2009
"The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton" is a rather drab period piece about the woman who started lifestyle magazines. While there are moguls now like Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart, Isabella Beeton started it all. Defying Victorian conventions, she got into her husband's publishing business. When many upper-class women left housekeeping to their servants, Mrs. Beeton taught women how to keep house. (When conservatives talk about "traditional"
gender roles, they might only date back to the Victorian Age/Industrial Revolution,and it depended on social class)

"Secret Life" is historically accurate, but it's also incredibly stilted. There is more telling than showing, since Isabella has an annoying,near-constant voiceover. There's a scandalous secret in the center of the movie, which explains the heroine's numerous miscarriages, and her husband's sickliness. Still, it doesn't give any life to the series. "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is more thrilling.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece Theatre-Secret Life of Mrs. Beeson
I had never heard of this movie and was surprised at how good it was. Very please with the movie
Published 1 month ago by BettyTucker
5.0 out of 5 stars impressive
How many ladies had to put up with this life style. (Of course the law did not provide for abuse) Another tale of a lady being smarter, or at the very least, more industrious than... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Janice I Baverstock
3.0 out of 5 stars Tragedy
The film has a lot of tragedy because the protagonists lost two babies, but I didn't like was that each time she gives birth put a child about three months years old, when the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Maria A. Perez
5.0 out of 5 stars If you have Mrs. Beetons book you need to see this movie.
I found Mrs Beetons book when I was in England in the Lake District. It was the perfect reference when visiting all the huge country estates. Read more
Published 7 months ago by E. Linda Segars
5.0 out of 5 stars love
I love my movie collection 97% was bought from amazon I will continue to collect and I do from this sight and all movies were in excellent condition whether bought pre-owned or... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Sunshine
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice biographical story.
Having a few of her historical cookbooks, I really enjoyed this bit of history of how this woman wrote so many cookbooks and books on housekeeping.
Published 9 months ago by joyce1
5.0 out of 5 stars The art of housekeeping
Before there was Martha Stewart and Julia Childs, there was Mrs. Beeton. This amazing woman lived in England in 1800s. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Story
The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton was an excellent story. There was never a dull moment in it. The characters were well played and I would recommend it. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Audre Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars Mrs. Beeton - Ahead of her time.
Masterpiece Theatre - Secret Life of Mrs. BeetonIsabella Mary Beeton came of age when the middle class was coming into its own in England. Read more
Published on February 29, 2012 by Loaghaire
2.0 out of 5 stars What Secret Life?
If Isabella Beeton had a secret life, this film does not examine it. The facts of her domestic and journalistic existence were obviously open to... Read more
Published on January 8, 2012 by Carolyn Paetow
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