In a nut-shell
Lady Audrey Forbes-Hamilton (Penelope Keith) has fallen on hard times. Burdened with death duties following the untimely demise of her husband, she has to sell Grantleigh Manor), her family home for 400 years, to food wholesaler Richard DeVere (Peter Bowles).
Peter Bowles was one of the actors considered for the part of Jerry, husband of Penelope Keith’s character Margo Leadbetter.
Title by Shakespeare
The title is lifter from Shakespeare’s Hamlet; "Though I am a native here and to the manner born, it is a custom more honoured in the breach than the observance."
Sketching the show
When coming up with the idea for the series, creator Peter Spence remembered writing a comedy sketch featuring a cockney comedian holding a housewarming and inviting the previous owner, a widow.
To the Manor Born was originally written as a radio pilot. It was conceived as a star-vehicle for Penelope Keith, following the huge success of The Good Life. The idea was seen as so strong the pilot was put on hold and the television series was developed.
The pilot featured Bernard Braden as DeVere – and he was originally an American. It is thought he was loosely based on Anglo-French James Goldsmith of Cavenham Foods.
The location for Grantleigh Manor was Cricket St Thomas, Somerset, the then home of Peter Spence’s father-in-law. The Lodge – Audrey’s home - was in reality a mile away.
That 70s show
The series one finale was the most-watched British television programme, excluding live events, of the 1970s.
To the Manor Reborn
In 2007 To the Manor Born was revived for a one-off Christmas special, centring on Audrey and Richard’s wedding anniversary.
Peter Bowles would again play the husband opposite Penelope Keith in ITV sitcom Executive Stress.