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Taste the high life; TVChoice.

Royal Upstairs Downstairs (BBC Two, 6.30pm) PR O G R A M M E - m a k e r s seem to believe that we're all obsessed with posh people.

Two of the biggest dramas of the past six months have been the return of Upstairs Downstairs, and the ratings-busting Downton Abbey - both of which focus on life in swanky homes.

Then, at the weekend, a new run of Country House Rescue began on Channel 4, in which Ruth Watson attempted to turn around the fortunes of a once-grand but now rambling rural pile.

Now there's this show to add to the list. Each edition will follow antiques expert Tim Wonnacott and food connoisseur Rosemary Shrager as they revisit the castles, palaces and stately homes visited by Queen Victoria, paying particular attention to the preparations each abode went through before the monarch arrived.

Wonnacott says he would have fitted in nicely with such an extravagant way of life.

"Beautiful houses and sublime surroundings, magnificent art and furnishings, platoons of servants doing all the cooking and cleaning, endless leisure to explore any avenue of pleasure that appealed, pots of money and with no tax to speak of," he says. "What bliss. Only a fool could fail to love that lifestyle!" The Bargain Hunt host reckons one of the Queen's biggest habits proved invaluable while making the programmes.

"I had no idea before the series that Victoria was such a prolific diarist," he says.

"I always knew that her childhood was problematic, but the series really brought home to me what a nasty piece of work her mother, the Duchess of Kent, was. It is amazing after such a ghastly start in life that the 18-year-old princess transformed herself into such a successful monarch."

While Wonnacott takes a look at the treasures in each home, it's up to Shrager and food historian Ivan Day to prepare the dishes she would have eaten.

Wonnacott admits he enjoyed sampling the fare the pair came up with.

"As you will see they came up with some pretty glitzy dishes that looked absolutely stunning. The dish that slipped down easiest was the 'tipsy' cake from Hughenden Manor - a Genoa cake laced with oodles of alcohol. It caught me quite unawares!" The first programme travels to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.


A right royal time: Presenters Rosemary Shrager and Tim Wonnacott.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 7, 2011
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