Twelve footmen. Seventeen maids. Thirty-two chamber-pots. Twenty suckling pigs. Ten thousand candles. Don’t forget to add a dash of intrigue, a splash of scandal and a generous helping of matchmaking, and what do you get? One Regency house party and one bizarre, but fascinating, social experiment.
Ten eligible young men and women spend nine extravagant, exciting summer weeks in a lavish country house in the heart of England, in an effort to live exactly (or as close as possible in the 21st century) as their counterparts did 200 years ago – and that includes the corsets, the chamber-pots, the elaborate courtship rituals and the chaperones.
Everyone is given a Regency alter-ego with a certain status and fortune attached, which in turn determines their eligibility and desirability in the house. There’s the master of the house, a naval captain, a vicar, a countess, a lady’s companion and an industrial heiress (aka “new money”). And let’s not forget the chaperones – four ladies of mature years, whose job it is to guard their young charges’ virtue ferociously and to help to orchestrate a match between their young lady and the most eligible male they can catch.
But these 21st century folks soon learn that this match-making business isn’t as easy as it seems, and as genuine feelings and attachments begin to form, the entire situation becomes even more tangled up. They quickly learn that Regency men and women had entirely separate daily routines, and often they only saw each other at dinner in the evening. The men would spend the day hunting, shooting, fishing, boxing, while the ladies were expected to stay inside sewing, trimming bonnets, taking dance lessons, and when all else failed, gossiping. The women, successful independent products of the 21st century soon find themselves suffocating under the strict social protocols, which would not even let a young lady go down to breakfast alone if her chaperone insisted upon staying in her room. How was a girl supposed to find her Mr. Darcy?
But as soon as the participants begin to grow more comfortable in their Regency roles, new challenges are thrown their way in the form of new arrivals, love triangles and even the odd cat-fight (well, what’s a reality show without a good cat-fight?), and this game of make-believe quickly turns into something much more real. The show is ridiculously funny in parts and touchingly poignant in others. This is an entirely different breed of “reality show” and a must-watch for anyone who has ever read Jane Austen and sighed in longing.
Check the WRL catalog for Regency House Party