Belgravia – ITV

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I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this, given what utter rubbish the book was.  Julian Fellowes really should stick to writing TV scripts!  No, it isn’t Downton Abbey, but it doesn’t claim to be; and it was really quite entertaining.  It also suggested that afternoon tea stops you from feeling trapped.  So, in these troubled times, when anxiety levels are likely to be running high, clearly we should all be turning to tea and scones.  It’d be a much more sensible idea than some I’ve heard.  And, should you be a social climber eager to impress a member of the aristocracy, catch her scone as she drops it.

On a different note, but also related to these difficult times, maybe we should all remember the unsung heroes of the world, like Mr Trenchard the army victualler in this story – they don’t get the glory, but they keep us going.  I shall now move swiftly on, before my brain stops thinking about tea and scones and starts humming “The Quartermaster’s Stores” …

This kicked off with the Duchess of Richmond’s famous ball on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo.  I was pleased to find that some of the ridiculous references in the book to things that no-one could possibly have known before the battle had been removed!  The middle-class Trenchards had managed to wangle an invitation because the Duchess’s fictional nephew, Viscount Bellasis was involved with Sophia, the daughter of the Trenchard family … but he was killed in the battle.

Fast forward 25 years, and the Trenchards were doing very well for themselves, with Mrs Trenchard being invited to one of the Duchess of Bedford’s afternoon tea parties – hence the bit about it being better to be able to move around the room, rather than being trapped at a table – and meeting the late viscount’s mother, as the upper-classes and the nouveaux riches were thrown together in the newly-built Belgravia Square area of London.  There was a bit of waffle about how it was built by Thomas Cubitt …  who, incidentally, was the great-great-great-grandfather of the Duchess of Cornwall, whose mother’s maiden name was Cubitt 🙂 .

It subsequently transpired that poor old Sophia had been tricked into a fake marriage by the Viscount, and had then died giving birth to his child.  This had all been hushed up – but, of course, it’s now all about to come out.  Assuming it sticks to the storyline in the book, the way this ends is ridiculously far-fetched, but I won’t post any spoilers!!   Sophia’s brother Oliver and his wife, whom we haven’t seen much of yet, also play a big part in the story, and, presumably to Downton -Abbeyfy things, it looks as if the servants are going to play a bigger part than they did in the book.

It’s not going to go down in history as an all-time classic, but it was watchable, and, the way things are at the moment, I for one am certainly up for a bit of historical escapism.  All the best to anyone who’s reading this.  Please, stay calm, wash your hands, don’t use a crisis to try to score political points, and be kind and do what you can for others.  And, if you need to escape for a bit, there are plenty of books, films and TV programmes out there.