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The Duchess of Duke Street - The Complete Collection

4.6 out of 5 stars 248 customer reviews

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(Aug 26, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An inspiring story of triumph and loss, love and laughter

Born into the servant class, Louisa Leyton rises from the scullery to become the best chef in Edwardian London and manager of the most elegant -- and discreet -- hotel in town. She learns the rules of high society from powerful men captivated by her beauty, but she never sheds her Cockney accent or attitude. Even in the throes of World War I, Louisa proves she can take whatever life dishes out and remain in a class all her own.

Based on the true story of Rosa Lewis, a culinary genius and owner of London’s venerable Cavendish Hotel, this acclaimed BBC series dramatizes the life of an indomitable woman in stories full of humor and heart. Created by John Hawkesworth (Upstairs, Downstairs) and starring Gemma Jones (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Sense and Sensibility) as Louisa and Christopher Cazenove (A Knight’s Tale, TV’s Dynasty) as Charlie, the dashing love of her life.

As seen on Masterpiece Theatre

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE a biography of Rosa Lewis, Edwardian period background, photo gallery, and cast filmographies.

Series One
From the golden age of Masterpiece Theatre comes this beloved 1976 British miniseries by the creators of Upstairs, Downstairs. Gemma Jones gives a performance for the ages in this rags-to-riches saga that charts the ascendancy of the indomitable Louisa Trotter, who rose from scullery maid to become "the finest cook in London" and Edwardian society's premier hostess. Inspired by the true story of Rosa Lewis, who held court at her renowned Cavendish Hotel, The Duchess of Duke Street is the video equivalent of a good read. Immerse yourself in this lavishly mounted BBC production that impeccably re-creates a bygone era at the turn of the century and captivates viewers with the tragedies and triumphs of Louisa's story, which includes an ill-fated affair with the Prince of Wales, an unhappy marriage, and struggles with bankruptcy and ill health. But Louisa, Cockney accent intact, prevails as the reigning mistress of Hotel Bentinck. --Donald Liebenson

Series Two
For devotees left hungry for more at the conclusion of The Duchess of Duke Street, Gemma Jones re-creates her signature role as the indomitable Louisa Trotter, the former scullery maid who left her mark on turn-of-the-century England as "the finest cook in London" and the reigning mistress of Hotel Bentinck, in the second set of this series. As her own mother remarks, Louisa "has done very well. She's moved up in the world." The Bentinck is no Fawlty Towers. Louisa, based on the real-life Rosa Lewis, the proprietor of the fashionable Cavendish Hotel, presides over her domain with a stiff-backed iron rule. She is, as one of her staff remarks, "a tough customer ... a woman with spirit." Throughout these 16 episodes, packaged in six volumes, both she and her employees will be severely tested. Louisa's troublemaking brother inspires mutiny among the devoted staff, and Louisa is besieged by mysterious love letters. Darkening the horizon is the deepening shadow of World War I. This long-sought sequel to one of Masterpiece Theatre's finest hours boasts the same impeccable production values and peerless ensemble acting. Make your reservation. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

  • Biography of Rosa Lewis
  • Edwardian period background
  • Photo gallery
  • Cast filmographies

Product Details

  • Actors: Gemma Jones
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 10
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: August 26, 2008
  • Run Time: 1620 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (248 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,877 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Duchess of Duke Street - The Complete Collection" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on December 28, 2008
Format: DVD
The Duchess of Duke Street was a BBC period drama set in London circa 1900-1925. The lead character, Louisa Trotter, was played by Gemma Jones, an actress who made the role her own, and mesmerised audiences in the role of a maid who works her way up to becoming a famous cook and eventually the proprietress of the Bentinck Hotel in London. This story is loosely based on the real-life Rosa Lewis who managed the Cavendish Hotel in London.

In the first season, we are introduced to the cast of characters, with Gemma Jones in the lead role of Louisa Trotter. She plays a fiercely determined, independent, strong-willed woman who is bent on making a success of herself. She wants to be the most famous cook in London, and gets employed in the household of Lord Henry Norton, to the detriment of his French chef. But Louisa's determination sees Monsieur Alex relenting and eventually developing a grudging admiration for her cooking skills. Louisa's attractiveness garners her the attentions of many men - ranging from her employer's nephew, Charlie Tyrrell[Christopher Cazenove], to the household's butler, Gus Trotter [Donald Burton], and even the Prince of Wales himself!

The first season sees Louisa's struggle to get to the top - she is pressured to marry the butler, Gus, a disastrous union, and eventually finds herself getting the lease on the Bentinck Hotel, and making a name for herself as a famous hostess in London society.
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Format: DVD
The Duchess of Duke Street is based on the real life of Rosa Lewis, Gemma Jones portrays Louisa Leyton Trotter. Cockney Louisa Leyton wants to better her position from scullery maid and decides to do that by becoming a top cook and feeding the rich and famous.

Series One (15 Episodes) - Sees Louisa take a position as a scullery maid in an upper class house. She quickly finds out that there is only one way improve her life and that is to learn how to be a great cook. Along the way she becomes London's premier hostess and owner of Bentinck's. But even with all this sucess, she cannot have the man she loves.

Series Two (16 Episodes) - Louisa continues her success through the great war and into the the Roaring Twenties. But Louisa's kind heart (during the war she opens Bentinck's to soldiers but never cashes their checks) brings her to the brink of financial ruin.

Gemma Jones gives a fantastic performance and the series is worth watching just for this. But this show is superbly written and directed. Series was created by Upstairs, Downstairs producer John Hawkesworth.

But when you watch it, plan on spending the entire weekend infront of you TV with a running time of over 27 hours!!

DVD EXTRAS - Bio of Rosa Lewis, Edwardian period background, photo gallery and cast filmographies.
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We first rented this entire series through Netflix and when we finished the last DVD, we both were caught up in the feeling that we could stay in this time period and with these characters forever they were that engaging. The production is based upon a real life character who lived pretty much as this story unfolds. Which made it twice as compelling.

So, when advertised that they were going to sell the DVD collection, I nailed it right away. I will revisit Duke Street and the charming, engaging and outrageous Louisa Trotter, as played by the peerless Gemma Jones as the Duchess/Cook/Chatelaine, again and again. The entire casting is absolutely superior in the acting as is the story telling. It is typical British fare, elegant, classy, sly, dignified, restrained, stoical within a convoluted story line and fascinating characterizations by the actors. Even the irresistable dog Fred that the doorman Mr. Starr kept as his buddy and to fill his lonely heart. The series first appeared on Masterpiece Theater. And, in my opinion, it is true to the reason as to why this production is considered a timeless Masterpiece.
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I didn't think that I could like anything better than Upstairs Downstairs but I was so wrong. This series is so much more visually appealing. The detail of the furnishings and period clothing alone make it worth viewing.

Gemma Jones who plays Mrs. Trotter, The Duchess of Duke Street, is good, to be sure, but we all have our favorite characters and mine is Merriman the butler played by John Welsh. His understated manner and wit had me chuckling as I viewed each episode. As in Upstairs Downstairs, though, there is one servant who is treated badly. In UD, it was Ruby; in the DODS, it was Merriman. Granted, some of it was good-natured teasing but much of it was not. The disrespect that was shown to an octagenarian is disgraceful.

Some of the episodes were difficult to watch especially during the WWI episodes; a lot of death and tragedy but then, that's war, isn't it? I will say that the last 5 episodes took a turn that I didn't particularly care for but if I tell you what they are, it will spoil things for you. I can say, however, that the character of Lottie is most disagreeable. She has aspirations of becoming a professional singer and the woman who played her, Lalla Ward, *cannot* sing. Her voice is weak, thin and trembly and I should think that they could've cast someone better for the part. In my opinion, she dragged the series down but I still gave it a 5 star rating because she didn't enter the picture until close to the end. Had she been introduced earlier, I may not have liked the series so much.

I feel sad having come to the end and will definitely view this series again this winter during the cold, snowy months, sitting by the fire while sipping some English tea. A must see and worth every penny.
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