Category: RealityTV

Escape to the Country (BBC)

Escape3 Kernels

Have you ever had a dream that you knew in your heart would never come true?  Are you brave enough to watch a show about that dream and torture yourself by seeing others live it instead?  Well, click your heels three times and say with me, “escape to the country in England.”

Currently streaming on Netflix is this wonderful BBC insight into country living.  It’s a reality show where individuals or couples are seeking to leave the bustling cities and find a property in a quaint village in the English countryside.  The host shows them three properties that fit into their desires (i.e. budget, number of bedrooms, size of lot/land, location), with the last one termed as the “mystery home.”  After viewing each of the properties, the home seekers guess the price before being told the actual listing.

The show covers a variety of counties in England.  What is nice about each location visited, is that the host introduces interesting tidbits about the small country village’s history and what they may be famous for in the way of special goods, i.e. leather, lace, candy, etc., and then shows examples of how these are made. (The lace one blew me away! I never knew the intricacy and hours of work for one piece of handmade lace.)  It gives the guests and the audience the flavor of the locality, along with stunning views of national parks, rolling hills, dramatic coastlines, etc.

Frankly, I’ve only been through three episodes shot in York, Wiltshire, and Devon.  Future episodes are Dorset, Shropshire, Scottish Highlands, West Wales, East Midlands, North Dorset,  Gloucestershire, Northumberland, Cornwall, Somerset, Cambridgeshire, and Hertfordshire.

Usually, my mouth doesn’t drop open while watching television, but I’ve had a hard time keeping it shut while entering some of these properties.  From the typical country thatch roof to converted barns to small estates to Georgian-style houses, I’m green with jealousy wishing I could live in one of these fabulous places, in a country village setting.  Alas, life will probably never grant me that dream.  (Perhaps, I should be glad based on the murder rates on so many fictional British crime shows.)

On the downside of this series, you are left with the knowledge of which house the guests like but not given the knowledge of what house they actually purchase!

If house hunting bores you, this is not the show for you.  However, if you’re curious about English properties in the country, their cost, etc., you’ll love the show even though it’s not a five-star British period drama with a handsome duke to sweep you off your feet.  Instead the properties will enthrall and cause your heart race to increase.

Oh, you lucky Brits!  I’m green with envy.

You Can’t Get the Staff (Acorn TV 2014)

You Can't Get the Staff

4 Kernels

What a great show! Ignore the bad reviews in the U.K. The people across the pond eat up this information like candy. We love to peek into the lifestyle of those who work and live in England.

This show is an absolutely intriguing look into the life of the wealthy aristocracy, successful business person, or run-of-the-mill family looking for staff or child care. You may have a manor house, castle, and hundreds of acres, but it takes wit to keep it going and staff to run it.

The series is a fascinating look into the lives of those “in service” in the U.K. Almost makes me want to apply for a job. Of course, things have changed over the years, but there is a resurgence in the need for good staff. Though it declined after World War I, those who still own their estates, which have been in the family for centuries, need people to help maintain them.

Each episode showcases a particular situation that requires additional staff. The advertisements go out, the applicants apply, and the interviews proceed. Want a job polishing silver? How about gardening? Love horses? Are you a butler with impeccable skills, experience, and good references? Of course, if you’ve worked for royalty, that’s a plus. The career choices and salaries in these positions are eye-opening.

However, after hiring, one must keep the staff too. They could leave without notice or run off with the “lady of the house.” In between applications, the show also gives tidbits on cleaning the chandelier, ironing a newspaper, polishing silver, correct way to make corners on a sheet, how to fold an umbrella properly, helping a man on with his coat, the skill of ironing a shirt, the quiet way to open and close a door, and other instruction on how to act, serve, and behave in British high-society as an employee in service.

Not only informative, but it’s also quite laughable in places. You’ll be surprised at how many aristocrats get down and dirty to do their part to maintain the estate that has been in their family for centuries. When you see the exterior, interior, and artifacts of these homes, you’ll want to pay the fee to take a tour to keep them going. There are also those employers who are successful in business and rich, with demanding personalities. They may not have the title of a earl or baron, but they are the “new” money who demand the same treatment.

Loved it! I hope there are more to come.

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