Dateline: February 26, 2000
ITV's drama series The Grand, set in a Manchester hotel in 1920, is now running on various PBS stations in the United States. Here is some background information about the series and an episode guide.
Fans of Upstairs Downstairs or The Duchess of Duke Street will probably find many familiar elements in The Grand, a period drama series that looks at both the upper and working classes. Michael Siberry stars as John Bannerman, a proud, successful family man who, in the opening episode, has just reopened his father's hotel after an extensive refurbishing following World War I. But financial disaster looms and he is forced into a devil's pact with his black-sheep brother Marcus (Mark McGann, a one-time John Lennon and one of the four acting McGann brothers) in order to keep the hotel open. Marcus - who resents John for being his father's favorite - moves back into the hotel and has his eye on John's wife Sarah (Julia St. John, most famous for The Brittas Empire). The "face" of the Grand is its doorman, Mr. Collins, played by longtime TV veteran Tim Healy (Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Heartburn Hotel), who interfaces between the posh management and working class staff.
Over the course of two seasons, the serialized drama focused its spotlight on John's son Stephen, a veteran of the war; Miss Harkness (Susan Hampshire), a former prostitute now with money; and Kate, a chambermaid trying to do her best given the limitations of her class. Their lives and loves are explored, often heartbreakingly, and death rears its ugly head several times.
Created and written by Russell T. Davies (later to achieve a huge amount of fame and notoriety for his Channel 4 series Queer As Folk), The Grand is a look back to a simpler time when "everyone knew their place," but didn't necessarily settle for it either.
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