The Duchess of Duke Street

Watch The Duchess of Duke Street

  • TV-PG
  • 1976
  • 2 Seasons
  • 8.3  (1,513)

The Duchess of Duke Street is a British drama television series set in Edwardian London that first aired on the BBC from 1976-1977. The show stars Gemma Jones as Louisa Leyton, a woman who rises from the slums of London to become a successful businesswoman and head of a prestigious hotel.

The series is set in the early 20th century and is loosely based on the real-life story of Rosa Lewis, a famous caterer and owner of The Cavendish Hotel in London's West End. Louisa Leyton is a strong, determined character who defies the conventions of her time to carve out a successful career in the hospitality industry.

The show explores the challenges and opportunities of Edwardian London, a time of significant social, political and economic change. The period is characterised by a widening gap between rich and poor, the rise of the suffragette movement, and the impact of World War I. The Duchess of Duke Street captures the essence of this era, bringing to life the glamour and opulence of high society alongside the grit and struggle of the working class.

Louisa Leyton is a compelling and multi-faceted character who provides the heart of the show. She is a woman of fierce independence and determination, yet is also warm, kind and nurturing. Despite her humble origins, she holds her own among the upper-class elite, winning the loyalty and respect of her staff, guests and friends.

Throughout the series, Louisa faces numerous challenges, from financial setbacks to personal tragedies, yet she always manages to come out on top. Her journey is one of self-discovery, as she learns to navigate the complexities of love, friendship and business.

The supporting cast of The Duchess of Duke Street is likewise exceptional. Among the most memorable characters are her loyal sous chef and confidant, Starr (John Cater), her former landlord and love interest, Charlie Tyrell (Christopher Cazenove), and her employer-turned-rival, Lady Agnes Holland (Geraldine James). The show is also notable for its diverse array of guest stars, including famous faces such as Ian McShane, Michael Kitchen and Patricia Routledge.

One of the standout elements of The Duchess of Duke Street is its attention to historical detail. The series features stunning period costumes and set designs that bring the world of Edwardian London to life. The show also accurately portrays the social and political issues of the era, showcasing the struggles faced by women, minorities and working-class people.

Overall, The Duchess of Duke Street is a masterful period drama that offers a compelling glimpse into the lives and challenges of Edwardian London. Gemma Jones delivers a career-defining performance as Louisa Leyton, capturing the essence of a woman who defies the expectations of her time to become a true pioneer and trailblazer. The show is not to be missed by anyone who loves rich, character-driven dramas and fascinating glimpses into history.

The Duchess of Duke Street is a series that is currently running and has 2 seasons (31 episodes). The series first aired on September 4, 1976.

The Duchess of Duke Street
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Ain't We Got Fun
16. Ain't We Got Fun
December 24, 1977
Change is in the air at the hotel and in the lives of its many residents. An American writer, Sophie Applegate, would like to pen a book about Louisa's life, successes and failures. Louise isn't all that keen on the venture but eventually rises to the occasion and opens up about her past. It's not obvious that she'll ever let the book see the light of day however. Merriman wins £500 in a contest and decides the time has come to engage in other pursuits, for a short time, at any rate. Mr. Starr and Mary have a surprise announcement that sends Louisa reeling and forces her to reconsider some of her rules about staff conduct. Major Smith-Barton returns for a short visit when his wife visits the continent. He too has a revelation for Louisa.
Poor Little Rich Girl
15. Poor Little Rich Girl
December 17, 1977
Louisa and Lottie are at loggerheads -- Louisa wants her daughter to be a proper lady, as befits the daughter of a Viscount. Lottie is confident that she has the talent and the looks to become a major musical star of the London stage.
Blossom Time
14. Blossom Time
December 10, 1977
Lottie returns to the Bentinck from finishing school in Switzerland for a bit of a holiday and has her art teacher, Miss Olive Bradford, in tow. Lottie has become quite the young lady, having learned the rules of high society and losing her Yorkshire accent. The Major takes quite an interest in Miss Bradford but Louisa warns him that she is an old maid who may be out to get her hooks into him. Lottie also finds a beau, hotel guest Howard Blenkiron who takes an interest in her from their first meeting. She may have made a mistake however when she tells Howard of her parentage.
13. Lottie
December 3, 1977
While a few of the staff know of Lottie's origins, others have set their tongues wagging about just why this young girl seems to be staying at the Bentinck. Louisa won't put up with it and sets out to end the gossip. Mary meanwhile takes an interest in her and invites her to tea with her friend Brian, the violin player. He immediately takes an interest in Lottie and grates at the constant stream of orders from Mary. When he decides to leave London, he gets Lottie to tell a heartbroken Mary of the reasons why. Louisa decides that the time has come to send Lottie to finishing school and make a lady of her.
The Legion of the Living
12. The Legion of the Living
November 26, 1977
Ghosts of Visits to Yorkshire Past interfere with key decisions Louisa must make in the present, chiefly, deciding what will be best for her daughter, Lottie and her future.
Where There's a Will
11. Where There's a Will
November 12, 1977
With the war at an end, Louisa is at the precipice of an emotional collapse and financial ruin.
10. Shadows
November 5, 1977
Charlie returns to London and the Bentinck when he's been wounded and puts on a cheerful and brave face, but his situation is far more serious, as Louisa and the Major suspected.
Tea and a Wad
9. Tea and a Wad
October 29, 1977
Louisa brings a bit of England to France when the Major enlists her to fashion a tea and sandwich shop, military style and Charlie (Lord Haslemere) and an ecstatic Luisa agree to marry once the 'guns are silent.'
The Reluctant Warrior
8. The Reluctant Warrior
October 22, 1977
When the hotel sustains damage after it's grazed by a bomb, Ethel takes a shine to a conscientious objector, assigned to ferret out a potential UXB. Though nobody was injured, Starr, sadly, loses his beloved pooch in the rubble.
The Patriots
7. The Patriots
October 15, 1977
Louisa is concerned when a government official informs her that the Bentinck has become a spies nest and implicates a member of her staff.
Your Country Needs You
6. Your Country Needs You
October 8, 1977
With the outbreak of the Great War, the staff are galvanized to help in the effort and keep the hotel running as usual. Louisa takes in a Belgian refugee, a master pastry chef. Charlie enlists and leaves a worried Louisa as he departs for France .
The Passing Show
5. The Passing Show
October 1, 1977
Louisa urges Charlie to get on with his life and a smooth and very suave actor beds Violet, who promptly gets the sack.
Winter Lament
4. Winter Lament
September 24, 1977
Louisa visits Lord and Lady Haslemere in Yorkshire and finds a bleak and desperately unhappy household.
A Lesson in Manners
3. A Lesson in Manners
September 17, 1977
Louisa takes a callow chauffeur in tow and tries to turn him into a 'proper gentleman,' when his kind, elderly and wealthy employer dies suddenly and leaves him the bulk of her estate.
Poor Catullus
2. Poor Catullus
September 10, 1977
When two high spirited Oxford students play a prank on Louisa, she goes along with the fun and finds a Professor of Classics pitching the woo to her. Meanwhile, Lord and Lady Haslemere come down from Yorkshire to shop for their London home.
Family Matters
1. Family Matters
September 3, 1977
Louisa's only brother, ne'er do well Arthur, returns to London after a decade. Her mother pressures Louisa into offering him a job at the Bentinck, running the risk of alienating the rest of her staff.
Where to Watch The Duchess of Duke Street
The Duchess of Duke Street is available for streaming on the BBC website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch The Duchess of Duke Street on demand at Apple TV Channels and Amazon Prime.
  • Premiere Date
    September 4, 1976
  • IMDB Rating
    8.3  (1,513)