The Paradise is a British television costume drama series, which premiered on BBC One on 25 September 2012. It is an adaptation of the novel Au Bonheur des Dames by Émile Zola relocating the story to North East England.
A second series has been commissioned by BBC One in late October 2012.
The series is filmed at Lambton Castle which has been converted into a 1870s bustling upmarket department store. Alongside, a Victorian street with shops and a tavern has been constructed. Biddick Hall, also on the Lambton estate, is used as Lord Glendenning's house.
Episode 1 - Denise Lovett arrives in a northern English town to seek employment with her uncle in his draper's shop. His shop is failing under pressure from The Paradise, opposite, the first high-class department store in the town, and cannot afford to take her on. Undeterred she seeks a position as a salesgirl at The Paradise and comes under the watchful eye of the head of ladies fashion, Miss Audrey, and her exacting standards. She soon catches the eye of the widowed owner Moray, much to the chagrin of salesgirl Clara, who has slept with him, and Katherine Glenddenning, daughter of Lord Glendenning, who expects to marry him.
Episode 2 - Katherine Glendenning brings her friend Mrs Brookmire (Olivia Hallinan) to the store to cheer her up and, dazzled by the array of goods and the attention given to her by Sam at the draper's counter, she buys so many items that Moray opens the first store account for her to settle the bill at a later date. Taken ill, Mrs Brookmire is helped by Sam and and when she invites him to the Glendennings home where she is staying she breaks down to reveal she has left her husband. She kisses Sam as Lord Glendenning and Katherine walk in and he is accused of ungentlemanly behaviour and Moray is asked to dismiss him. The reputation of The Paradise is at stake; Moray wants to discover the truth, and Denise decides to help.
Episode 3 - The discovery of a baby by Denise in ladieswear causes ripples through the store. Clara resents Denise's popularity, Miss Audrey fears her ambitions, and Arthur questions his own foundling status. Moray uses the baby to increase sales and Katherine pursues Peter Adler (Mark Bonnar), who runs a home for foundlings. Denise upsets Moray with her idea for a childrens department using Katherine as a go-between. Clara is also upset when the foundlings are brought to the store and her affinity with one of the children causes trouble.
Episode 5 -
Episode 6 - Exotic lovebirds arrive as the new attraction to be sold at the Paradise and Pauline offers to man the counter in an attempt to impress Sam. Lord Glendenning offers Moray a bigger loan to buy the leases of every shop. Moray commits to an engagement with Katherine. Despite the warnings of an experienced Miss Audrey, Denise is unable to keep her true feelings from Moray any longer. On the announcement of the engagement Clara is shocked and Denise leaves The Paradise to live with her uncle, who had earlier struck Jonas after being goaded. Arthur fears what Jonas has done to Burroughs.
Episode 7 - Katherine's wedding plans and her future plans for Moray and The Paradise threaten Jonas whose presence upsets her as does the picture of Moray's wife. Denise plans for a co-operative of the small traders has an initial success on the back of Katherine's proposed wedding dress, but fails when the traders fall out prompted by hatmaker Charles Chisholm (David Bamber). Lord Glendenning suggests Moray and Katherine following the wedding take an extended honeymoon to Europe.
Episode 8 - As the wedding approaches Denise returns to The Paradise and Moray confesses his love for her. Moray's resolve is tested when he learns that Lord Glendenning owns the freeholds of The Paradise and all the surrrounding shops and Katherine imparts the fact to Denise that it is her who will be responsible for the future of the traders and the threat that Moray could lose The Paradise. Burroughs' body turns up in the river and since Jonas is the main suspect Dudley attempts to fire him. Dudley, as best man, prepares to escort Moray to the wedding, prompting him to realise where his heart lay, resulting in him searching The Paradise for Denise. The series ends with the lovers kissing.
The Paradise, BBC One, review
Neil Midgley was disappointed with the opening episode of The Paradise, BBC One's new eight-part period drama based on Emile Zola's novel Au bonheur des dames.
By Neil Midgley 26 Sep 2012 in The Telegraph / http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/tv-and-radio-reviews/9566442/The-Paradise-BBC-One-review.html
Lark Rise to Candleford could never be quite the same for me after Victoria Wood did a send-up – complete with a Post and Potato Office, and characters who threw in modern idioms such as “You do the math” – in her 2009 Christmas special. But Bill Gallagher, the chief writer on Lark Rise, is unlikely to see the same fate befall his new BBC One drama series The Paradise. The first episode was such a pastiche, it’s hard to see how Wood could manage to send it up any further.
It was set in an unspecified Victorian year in an unspecified Northern English city. The Paradise, Britain’s first department store, had opened right across the street from Edmund Lovett’s (Peter Wight) little drapery shop. Enter Denise, Edmund’s toothsome niece (Joanna Vanderham), looking for a job.
In fact, there was a lot of “Enter Denise” last night, and always of course with a camera gawping instructively over one shoulder or the other. In the very first scene, Denise entered Edmund’s shop (but not wasting the opportunity to share a meaningful look with the dashing owner of The Paradise, John Moray (Emun Elliott), as she passed his way).
But Edmund was close to being ruined by the newfangled department store, and therefore wasn’t hiring. Without skipping a beat, Denise then continued her job search by entering The Paradise (where she didn’t waste the opportunity to share a meaningful exchange with rough diamond Sam, played by Stephen Wight, and thus efficiently set up a potential love triangle within the first four minutes). Later, Denise duly entered The Paradise again for her first day’s work (but thankfully this time was greeted by Arthur (Finn Burridge), an urchin, who was too young to trouble the carefully constructed love-clichés).
Denise’s boss, Miss Audrey (Sarah Lancashire), was head of ladieswear. But her job appeared to consist only of tarting up the kind of deadpan lines that Victoria Wood would write, if Victoria Wood were not such a good writer. “It is a sin to abandon your department!” she admonished one assistant, with mounting hysteria. “Quickly, girl, haberdashery! Haberdashery!”
And while the women occupied themselves by coveting silk gowns and rich husbands, the men had a much manlier task – delivering laughable hyperbole with a straight face. “If you want to fight me, Edmund, you will lose,” said Moray to his competitor across the street. “Because it is not a man you are taking on. It is progress.”
But Moray needed to borrow working capital from rich old Lord Glendenning (Patrick Malahide), and had been wooing Glendenning’s daughter to try and loosen the purse strings. “I must warn you,” said Glendenning, in his most menacing Clint Eastwood whisper, “if you break her heart, whether or not I grant you a loan will be of no consequence. Because I shall make it my business… to ruin you.”
In fact, viewers may have puzzled over The Paradise being based not on its retail soulmate Acorn Antiques, but on the novel Au bonheur des dames by Emile Zola. If the radical French novelist were still alive today, he might well be tempted to use the words “j’accuse” once more.