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The Grand (ITV Drama, Mark McGann, Michael Sheen)

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The Grand ITV 1997-1998

Before he was busy dallying with the Doctor and realising that there was nowt so Queer as Folk, TV maestro Russell T Davies was busy working on another high quality, supremely entertaining drama series in the shape of The Grand.

The Grand is a luxery hotel in the heart of Manchester and with the first world war finally over John Bannerman (Michael Siberry) is struggling to keep the hotel open and is close to running out of money, step forward his none too likeable brother Marcus (Mark McGann who plays the venomous younger brother to perfection) who is able to bail his brother out but only by taking a major share in the hotel (his real reason for agreeing to save the Grand is to try and get his hands on his brothers wife Sarah (Julia St John).

Add in to the mix the rather lovely Susan Hampshire playing Esme Harkness, a retired lady of the night who has moved into the Grand, she quickly takes under her wing new girl Monica Jones (Jane Danson who used the series as a stepping stone into Coronation Street), who although only a chambermaid is determined to better herself and is the focus of a great storyline towards the end of the first season (there were eight in season one and 10 in season two) that leads her to a tragic end.

Like Upstairs, Downstairs before it the Grand has a healthy mix of the posh above stairs hotel owners and visitors and the below stairs lives and loves of the staff. There is a pretty large cast actually and one of the real stand outs has to be young Rebecca Callard as chambermaid Kate who by the end of the series has really proved her worth to the hotel.

There are also a couple of cast changes between the first series and the second in the shape of Amanda Mealing who plays Marcus’s girlfriend (later wife) in the first season but was replaced by Victoria Scarborough for the second batch of episodes, likewise John’s son Stephen was played by Stephen Moyer in series one but Ifan Meredith (who isn’t as good) took over for season two.

Cast: Susan Hampshire as Esme Harkness; Mark McGann as Marcus Bannerman; Michael Siberry as John Bannerman; Tim Healy as Mr Collins; Paul Warriner as Clive Evans; Rebecca Callard as Kate Morris; Michael Sheen as Thomas Jordan; Jane Danson as Monica Jones (1997); Stephen Moyer as Stephen Bannerman (1997); Amanda Mealing as Ruth Bannerman (1997); Camilla Power as Adele Bannerman; Julia St. John as Sarah Bannerman; Ifan Meredith as Stephen Bannerman (1998); Victoria Scarborough as Ruth Bannerman (1998)

Writer and Creator: Russell T. Davies / Producer: Antony Wood

UK / ITV – Granada / 18×50 minutes / 4 April 1997 – 3 April 1998