After writing about my pitch for a Regency reality show last week I had a few wonderful readers tell me it had already been done. So of course I had to check out Regency House Party. In fact, I lost a good part of my day off yesterday to this show which is posted in bite sized 10 minute chunks on YouTube.
This show is a sort of Regency dating game, a period version of Big Brother I suppose, and although no one gets voted off, 10 UK singletons commit to try to find their match over 9 weeks of filming. Billed as "12 footman, 17 maids, 32 chamber pots, 20 suckling pigs and 10,000 candles", Regency House Party was made by Channel 4/Wall to Wall productions who previously brought us The 1900 House, The 1940s House and The Edwardian Country House. I watched and loved all of these when they came out except for Regency House Party. How did I miss this???!!!
Overall it was very well done. There were some class distinction problems at the beginning which will seem strange to we non Brits. It is amazing to me that a wealthy businesswoman with a lower class accent could feel inferior to a supposed Russian Countess who is working as a barmaid, but there you are. The football loving hairdresser gets so freaked out by the upper class boys that he leaves early. Too bad, as he was great!
Basically, the men have way more fun than the women, who have to adapt to restrictive rules from their chaperones and end up hanging out of windows or hiding in bushes to watch the men having fun out of doors. You can see everyone slowly adapt to the quieter life although every time the producers liven things up with a visiting musician or amateur theatrical the participants eat it up as if starved for any kind of diversion. Pretty realistic there, I would think!
It was a bit heavy on the dating drama (my fave relationship was with the lowliest female and the Hermit living in the woods!) as I would have liked some more details on the day to day realities. The participants seem to know that the relationships formed in this setting are fairy tale and temporary, except for the "clergyman" (a teacher in real life) who falls for someone he wasn't supposed to. He takes it really hard!
The Mr. Darcy/Mr. Bingley type host has to do some unrealistic mediation between the females (involving some of the older female chaperones) and looks quite disgusted with the bickering. A real Regency gentleman would have been outside learning the pugilistic arts with his male guests but the poor guy shames the ladies into behaving again.
Overall, a thoroughly entertaining show. I am sure my sister will be watching this on YouTube at lunchtime today and for the rest of the week! I still think there is room for another show of this type, without the dating drama. What do you all think?
P.S. Kentchurch Court seems to have ongoing financial problems even after the "free" refurbishment as they were recently featured on Country House Rescue, also done by Channel 4.