Stiff up­per lips meet das­tardly deeds

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Brad Oswald

IF you ab­so­lutely love your Down­ton Abbey but some­times wish your PBS-de­liv­ered doses of proper English cos­tume drama were a bit more on the dark and creepy side, this Sun­day’s lineup on the U.S. pub­lic broad­caster might be just what you’re af­ter. In ad­di­tion to the usual Down­ton do­ings in the Mas­ter­piece Clas­sic (8 p.m.) slot, PBS is also serv­ing up a new 90-minute Mas­ter­piece in­stal­ment, The Mak­ing of a Lady (9 p.m.), which puts a de­cid­edly dif­fer­ent spin (ac­tu­ally, two dif­fer­ent and rather mis­matched spins) on the oft-ex­plored no­tion of up­per-crust life in the staid and stately English coun­try­side. The Mak­ing of a Lady, which is based on a turn-of-the-20th-cen­tury novel by Frances Hodgson Bur­nett ( The Se­cret Gar­den, A Lit­tle Princess), tells the story of Emily FoxSeaton (Ly­dia Wil­son), an ed­u­cated but im­pov­er­ished young Lon­doner who’s ek­ing out a liv­ing by work­ing as a “lady’s com­pan­ion” to a stiff-lipped aris­to­crat named Lady Maria Bayne (Joanna Lum­ley). She’s good at her job, but her ef­forts could not pos­si­bly be more un­ap­pre­ci­ated — in ad­di­tion to be­ing dis­mis­sive to the point of al­most not rec­og­niz­ing Emily as a fel­low hu­man be­ing, Lady Maria is also quite for­get­ful when it comes to timely pay­ment of Emily’s wages, mak­ing the poor girl’s board­ing-house ex­is­tence quite chal­leng­ing. While in the well-heeled lady’s em­ploy, how­ever, Emily meets Maria’s wealthy wid­ower nephew, Lord James Walder­hurst (Li­nus Roache), who takes an ob­vi­ous but very awk­wardly ex­pressed lik­ing to the at­trac­tive young woman. And when a mis­step in or­ga­niz­ing seat­ing at a din­ner party leads to Emily’s dis­missal, Wal­ter­hurst of­fers a pro­posal — se­ri­ously, a mar­riage pro­posal — that he be­lieves will solve prob­lems for each of them: he needs a wife, and even­tu­ally an heir to the fam­ily for­tune, and she needs se­cu­rity.

It’s a lot to di­gest for a girl who al­ways dreamed she’d marry for love, but Walder­hurst of­fers a gen­tle but blunt ob­ser­va­tion: “What are your op­tions?”

PBS

Ly­dia Wil­son plays Emily Fox-Seaton, a ‘lady’s com­pan­ion’ turned lady of the manor.

Men with oars: The Dis­ap­peared

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