Belgravia episode three aired last night (29 March) on ITV and now we’re well into the new Julian Fellowes series, the Trenchards (Tamsin Greig and Philip Glenister) are having to work to keep their connection to Charles Pope (Jack Bardoe) a secret.
To recap, Charles is actually the grandson of Anne and James Trenchard and was born after their daughter was tricked into a sham marriage before dying in labour. For years, they’ve vowed to keep the whole affair secret, however now that his other grandmother Lady Brockenhurst (Harriet Walter) is in the picture, that’s proving more difficult.
Episode three followed this ongoing saga while also delving deeper into the lies being told by the younger Mrs Trenchard, known as Mrs Oliver (Alice Eve) as she’s embarked on an extramarital affair.
We saw Mrs Oliver head to then-rural Isleworth in West London for what was politely dubbed a “tryst” – with an alibi of choosing a gardening plot. Far from going it alone, she’s being helped by household servant Speer (Bronagh Gallagher). It’s unsurprising, given that in Belgravia, the below stairs staff aren’t afraid to get involved and have their opinions.
While in Downton Abbey, Fellowes’ hallmark period drama, many of the servants attempted to fly under the radar, it seems that in Belgravia, they spend a lot of time chatting about their take on what’s happening above stairs. Their gutsiness is evident in the fact Speer is clearly putting her job on the line to get caught up in Mrs Oliver’s affair.
Fans of the show aren’t loving the servants’ lack of loyalty, with one pointing out they make Downton’s O’Brien and Barrow look “cuddly by comparison.”
The Trenchards servants make Barrow and O’Brien look cuddly by comparison 😳 #Belgravia— Felix (@foxcubofwm) March 29, 2020
It feels like the servants in #Belgravia are just there to repeat what we’ve just seen in case you missed it while making a cuppa— Sarah Bridge (@SarahBridge100) March 29, 2020
Speaking at the press screening of Belgravia ahead of its launch, the show's creator Julian Fellowes and leading lady Tamsin Greig spoke about the role of the servants in the series, with Tamsin referring to the group as a “Greek chorus.”
“You see these servants commenting on the central action. Not just commenting on it, but how they can manipulate the information and allow it to work for themselves,” she said.
Julian explained that, of course, for many servants, emotion didn’t come into the equation.
"It’s logical to assume that, since being a servant in the 1800s was the greatest single employer in the country, an enormous number of people were doing this work because there was nothing else for them to do," he said.
“Especially for women, it was very difficult to find employment... it was basically either factory or domestic work.
“It’s always quite nice to be reminded of this strange way of life where you’re living as a family, but around you, in the attics and the kitchen, there were people who were always there, who could walk in at any time, who had no emotional connection to you at all."
Belgravia continues Sundays at 9pm on ITV.
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