The House of Eliot

October 12th, 2010

I have been watching the House of Eliot via Netflix lately and I am enjoying the heck out of it.  Set in the 1920s, this show follows the lives of two sisters whose father dies leaving them in dire straits while controlling relatives take advantage of their small inheritance and cheat the girls out of what little remains.


The sisters are both gifted seamstresses having learned to create their own clothing and copy their favorite designers while living under their father’s miserly rule.  So after struggling through a variety of occupations to feed themselves, they eventually begin to sew for other people and their lives start to change.

The show is so well written that it seems like it came from a great book, but it didn’t.  It was created for the small screen by the collaborative team of Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins -  the same two people who wrote Upstairs, Downstairs.  Ginnie Hole was the screenwriter for the show.

Aside from the two actresses who play the sisters (Stella Gonet and Louise Lombard) the biggest star of the show is the 1920s fashion that the characters wear.  Not only are the clothes beautiful, they also symbolize the crumbling conventions of the day.  Out goes the corset and in comes the loose fitting gown and tailored trousers.  Women and fashion have never looked back.

The show is nicely balanced between grit and glamour with a great cast of bohemian characters and interesting side stories.


And they are constantly drinking champagne!  Every time I sit down to watch another episode I always wind up thinking -  There they go again!  Drinking more champagne!  How come I never drink champagne?   Why are these poor, helpless sisters drinking so much champagne and Rechelle is drinking zero champagne?  What is going on?

I have decided I just need to redefine my idea of cause celebre’ so that I can drink champagne more often.  I need to celebrate that entirely civil conversation I had with my fifteen year old.  I need to mark the anniversary of surviving yet another week in a house full of males.  I need to hoist a glass because my kitchen just happened to be clean when the stove repairman showed up.


I need to get an artsy photographer to open a studio in my basement who always happens to have a bottle of bubbly and a pair of narrow stemmed glasses ready to celebrate the smallest of victories.

That should do the trick.




  • Jennifer:

    Thanks for the suggestion. Love those British mini-series’. Cheers right back at you.
    May I suggest Doc Martin. You may enjoy that series. Very good, and set in a beautiful seaside town. It’s on netflix, too.

  • km:

    I loved Upstairs Downstairs as a child. I’ll have to check this out.
    Mad Men is great too to watch regarding conventions and fashion in a time of flux – early 60s and onward. They do a fair amount of boozing too!!!
    I’m all for champagne at great moments .

  • km:

    Oh my, I just saw the tweets below and peed myself laughing. You are BAD /grin

  • LucyJoy:

    Sounds like a wonderful series. I’ll have to check it out while I drink my “champagne” – Cook’s Grand Reserve sparkling wine, my drink of choice.

  • susan:

    Upstairs Downstairs was/is timeless. Loved it – and I will check House of Eliot. Thanks.

    Surviving a houseful of males cant be easy. At least now (vs. when my boys were young) they have disposable wipe ups you can keep next to toilet where they invariably missed. That goes for adult males also.

  • suzie-q:

    One of my favorite series. We should ALL drink more champagne. For breakfast, if needs be.

    • LucyJoy:


  • Sue from UK:

    Apparently a follow up to Upstairs Downstairs is being filmed, with Rose the housemaid (played by Jean Marsh as housekeeper). I think it’s airing over here at Christmas.

    Look out for a new series just showing here as well. It’s called Downton Abbey set in 1912 and featuring Dame Maggie Smith. It’s scripted by Julian Fellowes who wrote the film Gosford Park

  • M.R.:

    You know the saying that you shouldn’t wait for an “occasion” to open a great bottle of wine? Opening the bottle is enough of an occasion to celebrate!

  • Kay in KCMO:

    I watched this when it was first broadcast in the U.S. (early ’90′s?). It’s such a great story and the clothes are just all kinds of fabulous.

    I lurve the idea of champagne for breakfast. Does champagne go with oatmeal?

  • I’ve never watched this series (despite being an Anglophile myself) but it reminds me of a wonderful mystery series “Royal Spyness” by Rhys Bowen that is set in 1930s England/Europe. The main character is Lady Georgiana who is 36th in line to the throne and fallen into genteel poverty. I love the books for the descriptions of the clothes, the parties (champagne everywhere), and the historical setting. Good reads!

    • Rechelle:

      Sounds awesome. I am going to try and find it.

  • susan:

    Rechelle, another fabulous English film and was on Masterpiece Theater – I think in the early 90′s is House of Cards with Ian Richardson. There were 2 follow ups and were truly perfect. You HAVE to rent it!

  • I never missed an episode back in the early 90s. Thanks for the memories. Cat

  • Melissa:

    Got this series from Netflix on your recommendation and I am loving it.. Also loving Boardwalk Empire on HBO. The 20′s, ahhh.

  • I got hooked when it was on BBC America (before it became all Gordon Ramsey, all the time) and absolutely loved it. Just bought to watch it over again. I’m a sucker for any costume drama.


  • I’m also hooked on the series….thanks to you.