World War I, Battle of Amiens in 1918. Two British soldiers, Alf Stokes (Paul Shane) and James Twelvtrees (Geoffrey Holland), retreating during the fighting, discover the Reverend Teddy Meldrum (Michael Knowles), an officer lying motionless in a trench. The officer wears a ring with a precious stone on his finger, and Alf, to the indignation of James, picks out this stone from the setting, motivating his actions by the fact that the officer will no longer need the ring.
However, it turns out that Teddy is alive, just seriously wounded, after which Alf puts Meldrum on his back and he and James carry the officer to the hospital, rightly judging that it is better to take a walk to the hospital than continue to participate in the battle. At the hospital, the Honorable Teddy was cured, and he declared that he would always be indebted to Alf and James.
Ten years have passed. James Twelvtrees serves as a footman in the house of Teddy’s brother Lord John Meldrum (Donald Hewlett): of course, it was Teddy, who lives in his brother’s house, who made James patronage.
Alf Stokes went through several careers, including being a theater knife thrower assisted by his daughter Ivy (Su Pollard), but at some point he learned that the Meldrum household needed a butler. Alf forged a letter with recommendations allegedly from an old acquaintance of Lord John, he also put in a word for Teddy – and Alf became the new butler, to the great displeasure of James, who, firstly, cannot stand Stokes, and secondly, he hoped that the place he will get the butler.
After hiring Alpha, John Meldrum asked the butler to find a new maid. Only, John cautiously hinted, the maid must not be very pretty. Stokes is not told about this, but the fact is that Teddy has a somewhat perverse passion for maids and maids. A shiny face, rough hands, the smell of carbolic soap – it literally drives the honorable Teddy crazy, and it costs Lord Meldrum a lot of money to cover up scandals related to the pregnancy of maids and maids, and there are now about five little Teddies darting around the district, because of which in Kensington Gardens is already a step away.
As a maid, Alf introduces his daughter Ivy (Su Pollard). She never worked as a maid, but Stokes forged recommendations for her, so now Ivy will have to join the not very friendly family of servants of the Meldrum house, among which, in addition to Alf and James, are Mrs. Blanche Lipton (Brenda Cowling), the lad of Henry Livingston ( Perry Benson), who is bullied by absolutely everyone, and the disenfranchised cleaning lady Mabel Wheeler (Barbara New) – she is even lower than Henry in this hierarchy.
Also an almost constant participant in the kitchen gatherings in this house is police constable Wilson (Bill Pertrui), who loves Mrs. Blanche’s cooking, so he spends almost all his service at the kitchen table.
The creators of this series are David Croft and Jimmy Perry: they have made several well-known sitcoms for the BBC channel. The pilot episode was filmed back in 1988, but due to all sorts of strikes, the series started only two years later. “Did you call, my lord?” – the series is little known, which is strange, because, in my opinion, it is very funny and well worth watching.
It’s like such a banter “Downton Abbey” (we remember that “Downton Abbey” was filmed 20 years after this series), where a noble family, servants – to put it mildly, those are still characters.
The head of the Meldrum family, Lord John, is an arrogant snob and hypocrite. He stands for clear moral guidelines, while having a relationship with a married lady, Lady Agatha Shawcross, and is very afraid that Lady Agatha’s husband will find out about this and hit him in the ears, as happens among noble dons.
The Honorable Teddy, a slacker and a poof, has an obsessive passion for maids and maids, as mentioned. However, in his own way he is very sympathetic, and his ardor towards the lower class can arouse sympathy among people who share socialist ideas.
John’s eldest daughter Poppy (Susie Brenn) is a very frivolous person. She incites wedges to the lackey James (apparently, interest in the servants is purely family), in every possible way inflaming the unfortunate man, who at the same time knows his place and understands that a connection between him and Poppy is impossible.
John’s youngest daughter Cissy (Catherine Rabett) is a lesbian: she dresses in men’s suits, is very sarcastic, independent, and passionately fights for workers’ rights with her monocle in her right eye.
Well, John’s mother Lady Lavender (Mavis Pug) is an old woman who has long gone out of her mind and loves to wave a glass of gin, chat with her parrot and throw a plate of food at the maid.
Servants of the venerable House Meldrum are just like their masters. Butler Alf Stokes is a rogue and adventurer. He is constantly looking for opportunities to profit somehow at the expense of the owners, he doesn’t put a penny on the aristocracy and royal power, he is fond of socialist ideas, but at the same time he knows how to pretend to be a faithful servant, so he perfectly misleads his employers and uses Lord John’s complete trust.
Lackey James Twelvtrees is a pompous snob who bows to the aristocracy and scorns those below him. However, he is pathologically honest, so Alpha’s behavior horrifies him.
The cook Blanche Lipton is also quite arrogant and likes to push Mabel and Henry around.
Each episode runs here for 50 minutes – this is a somewhat non-standard format for a sitcom, where episodes are usually made no more than half an hour. However, the creators of the series said that this length allowed them to develop the plot and characters more carefully. Also here, unlike many other sitcoms, the series are not completely independent and independent, but are united by a common plotline.
The creators of the series perfectly pulled everyone – both the aristocracy and the working class serving them. Everyone got nuts! By the way, perhaps for this reason the series was not very popular: the audience did not see characters here who would like to empathize.
And it’s completely unnecessary for me to empathize with someone (although I was rooting for the scoundrel Alpha, he was painfully charming, and the suffering of the venerable Teddy aroused in me the liveliest sympathy), but watching this light madhouse was extremely exciting. Moreover, there were so many interesting things in terms of pronunciation from the point of view of English – from aristocratic British to Henry’s chic Cockney …
By the way, Henry played a young Perry Benson, who is well known to fans of the series “Benidorm”: Perry in it portrayed a funny fat man Clive Duke, the unlucky husband of a lady with a model appearance named Tonya.
Good humor (especially Henry and the Honorable Teddy, who constantly let out funny sarcastic remarks), well-aimed satire, colorful characters – I really liked it.
It’s also interesting that the series still looks good now, 30 years after it was filmed. There are films and series that if you haven’t watched at one time, then after a long time you can no longer watch – everything seems boring and uninteresting. But in rare cases this does not happen. But with this series – in my opinion, of course – this did not happen, I looked with great pleasure.
Where to get? I took it here, but I immediately warn you that there is only the original track and subtitles – United Statesn and English.
Did you call, my lord? / You Rank, M’Lord? movie meaning
Director: David Croft, Jimmy Perry Cast: Paul Shane, Geoffrey Holland, Soo Pollard, Donald Hewlett, Michael Knowles, Bill Pertwee, Brenda Cowling, Mavis Pug, Susie Brann, Katherine Rabett
Series, UK, 1990, 50 min. 4 seasons of 4-7 episodes