CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Look who’s lording it with the aristos… Liver Bird Beryl’s lad 


Belgravia

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Celebrity Murder Mystery

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How outdated it all seems, the emphasis on good breeding and the reverence shown to sons and nephews of earls in the Victorian London of Belgravia (ITV). 

It wouldn’t happen now, eh?

But the aristocracy of tellyland is just as convoluted and interwoven as the family trees in Burke’s Peerage.

Here’s my favourite family tie among the well-connected Belgravia cast: Adam James, who plays wicked Mr Bellasis, is the son of Polly James, star of The Liver Birds

Here’s my favourite family tie among the well-connected Belgravia cast: Adam James, who plays wicked Mr Bellasis, is the son of Polly James, star of The Liver Birds

Take Dame Harriet Walter, who plays snooty Lady Brockenhurst. Her uncle was Christopher Lee, the actor who made his name in the Hammer Horrors as Dracula but who is now adored by fantasy fans for Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings.

Alice Eve’s unusual surname gives away her heritage. In Belgravia she’s a saucy married woman, rushing off to enjoy afternoons of sin in Isleworth. 

In real life she’s daughter of Trevor Eve, once seedy private eye Eddie Shoestring.

Remember that wonderful sitcom by Carla Lane, about two single young women who dared to share rooms in Liverpool at the start of the Seventies? Polly James played Beryl, the brash Lancashire lass who made her flatmate Sandra (Nerys Hughes) look posh

Remember that wonderful sitcom by Carla Lane, about two single young women who dared to share rooms in Liverpool at the start of the Seventies? Polly James played Beryl, the brash Lancashire lass who made her flatmate Sandra (Nerys Hughes) look posh

Philip Glenister plays bluff businessman James Trenchard: his brother, of course, is fellow actor Robert, but what you might not realise is that their father John Glenister was a successful TV director for decades, working on hits such as Rumpole, A Touch Of Frost and The Six Wives Of Henry VIII.

But here’s my favourite family tie among the well-connected Belgravia cast: Adam James, who plays wicked Mr Bellasis, is the son of Polly James, star of The Liver Birds.

Philip Glenister (above) plays bluff businessman James Trenchard: his brother, of course, is fellow actor Robert, but what you might not realise is that their father John Glenister was a successful TV director for decades, working on hits such as Rumpole, A Touch Of Frost and The Six Wives Of Henry VIII

Philip Glenister (above) plays bluff businessman James Trenchard: his brother, of course, is fellow actor Robert, but what you might not realise is that their father John Glenister was a successful TV director for decades, working on hits such as Rumpole, A Touch Of Frost and The Six Wives Of Henry VIII

Remember that wonderful sitcom by Carla Lane, about two single young women who dared to share rooms in Liverpool at the start of the Seventies? 

Polly James played Beryl, the brash Lancashire lass who made her flatmate Sandra (Nerys Hughes) look posh.

Fancy Beryl’s boy being heir to a country estate. Bleedin’ Eck!

Julian Fellowes’s period drama is a portrait of England at the height of the Industrial Revolution, when new money is supplanting old pedigrees. 

The spirit of greed is typified by nouveau riche Lady Templemore (Tara Fitzgerald) who wears her best diamond tiara to drink tea by the fireplace in her own sitting room.

Lady T is determined to marry her daughter Maria to Bad Mr Bellasis, because one day soon he will inherit a title and become Louche Lord Bellasis. What’s the point of money if it can’t buy you social status?

Lord Fellowes, who already has all the social status anyone could need, longs to have his costume romps recognised for their historical accuracy — so he shoehorns in references to the construction of Nelson’s Column and the opening of the Reform Club.

The spirit of greed is typified by nouveau riche Lady Templemore (Tara Fitzgerald) who wears her best diamond tiara to drink tea by the fireplace in her own sitting room

This risks making the dialogue stilted. Some lines lack the liquid elegance, shall we say, of Jane Austen. 

But with so much screen royalty abounding, the cast sails serenely over the lumpy script.

Aristocracy was much in evidence on Celebrity Murder Mystery (C5), in which John Sergeant, Angela Rippon and other familiar faces spent a weekend at a country house where their upper-class hosts seemed to be getting slain left and right.

First to die, much to the horror of Hi-De-Hi!’s Su Pollard, was the Reverend Richard Coles, former pop star and Strictly contestant. Three shots rang out and the Rev met his Maker

First to die, much to the horror of Hi-De-Hi!’s Su Pollard, was the Reverend Richard Coles, former pop star and Strictly contestant. Three shots rang out and the Rev met his Maker

First to die, much to the horror of Hi-De-Hi!’s Su Pollard, was the Reverend Richard Coles, former pop star and Strictly contestant. 

Three shots rang out and the Rev met his Maker.

‘He’s come all this way on his bike and he’s dead,’ lamented Su. 

Any chasms in the plot were bridged by Su’s marvellous ad libs. 

I’m sure she doesn’t plan them — the words just come blurting out.

Playing a lady’s maid, she was sent to the kitchen to help prepare a dinner of pig’s trotter jelly and calf’s tongue. 

When she went down to the wine cellar, she discovered another dead guest — the lady schoolteacher, garotted.

‘Poor cow’s dead!’ gasped Su. 

And she wasn’t talking about the owner of the tongue.

Animal alert of the weekend: I can’t be the only one who gets panicky every time Rags the spaniel appears in The Nest (BBC1). 

Never mind the people — pets in suspense dramas rarely survive long. Can’t we stage a rescue bid? 

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