Roadshow / PG / 520 minutes / 4 disc set / Region: 4 / Extras
Stella Gonet, Louise Lombard, Aden Gillet, Barbara Jefford, Francesca Folan, Peter Birch, Cathy Murphy, Robert Daws, Burt Kwouk, Jean Anderson, Michael Culver
One of the BBC’s flagship dramas in its day and created Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, the actresses who had come up with the premise behind Upstairs Downstairs and with a budget of some 6 million pounds for this first series alone The House of Eliott was the last word in Sunday night opulence in the early 1990’s.
Set in the 1920’s the show followed a pair of sisters, Beatrice (Gonet) and Evangeline (Lombard) Eliott, who are left penniless after their father dies, setting up their own small dressmaking business the girls find themselves becoming leading lights of the London fashion scene; The girls face problems along the way, not least from their unscrupulous financier Ralph Saroyan (Michael Culver), the prejudices of the time which said a womans place is in the home as well as Evie’s romance with the dashing Jack Maddox (Aden Gillet); There was also as much emphasis placed on the lives of the girls who start working for the House of Eliott.
The third and final season (another nicely put together digi-pack from Roadshow) sees the beginnings of the depressed 1930’s and the girls having to move into cheaper end ready to wear outfits, Jack meanwhile is busy running for parliament. evie has plans to leave the House of Eliott altogether but what promises to be a hostile take-over by investor Harry causes her to rethink her plans.
A wonderfully glossy show which does carry echoes of Upstairs Downstairs, what with the focus on both the middle to upper class Eliott’s and their world and that of the working class girls employed by them and while it does have elements of soap opera about it its a hugely enjoyable slice of period drama nonetheless. Production design is first rate, the cast is good and the storylines keep you nicely involved. Top stuff.
Extras are a picture gallery, cast filmography and a look at the clothes of the House of Eliott.