One of the underrated BBC period dramas: The House of Eliott, is one of my favorite television programs ever! Doing a re-watch on Series 1 now and I am experiencing it from a refreshing new viewpoint. This early 1920s London drama deals with a mixture of women’s issues, fashion and civilian progress. It is mostly famous for the its exquisite costumes. Created by Dame Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh, the geniuses behind 1970s smash hit ‘Upstairs Downstairs’.
When I first watched the series what impressed me was that the unique feel of independence that I think reflected the early 1920s very well. In ravaged Europe cast and class did not matter as much anymore and being ‘in trade’ in Britain was becoming more acceptable. Still the challenges that the sisters go through are real and the series is shot quite emphatically, allowing us to experience the turmoil of 20s London very closely.
Few TV programmes have strong female characters that actually prove themselves strong in ordinary situations. The two sisters are exemplary in that accord. One of the largely featured themes is family. Despite their generational and professional disagreements the sisters stick together and manage to build their name in the fashion industry.
Let’s get to the series’ main asset - the fashion. The plot revolves around a fashion house after all! The costumes rate very high both in sophistication and historical accuracy, and designs were rarely repeated throughout the course of the series. If you are fond of 1920s fashion this will be a feast for you. If you ever felt like creating or fitting your own clothing then the sister might also prove to be a huge inspiration to you. In later parts of the series you will also be exposed to the ‘one of a kind’ vs ‘ready to wear’ clothing debate.
Needless to say, there is an immense amount of craft put into the writing, cinematography and directing - this is a BBC period drama after all. I honestly recommend it for fans of the 20s as well as of costume drama.
Below is embedded the first full episode of the series for your enjoyment:
What did you think of the sisters? Sound off if you used to watch it, I would love to connect with more fans of this programme!
UPDATE: An amazing source of screencaps from all the episodes can be found over here: House of Eliott Tumblr!