While flipping through the channels tonight, I came upon a program that I wish that I had known about sooner on the Sundance channel. It is called Ladette to Lady. It is a British reality show about modern girls becoming a proper ladies after going through an old-fashioned finishing school's curriculum.
Here are highlights from the five episode series:
- The girls are shoehorned into the Eggleston Hall uniform: a tight-fitting tweed suit, sensible shoes and pearl necklace and introduced to the curriculum: deportment, elocution, needlework, flower arranging and cookery.
- They've got just four days to prepare for their first big test: a shooting party at Burton Agnes, one of Yorkshire's finest country estates, at which they will be expected to show what they've learnt at Finishing School so far, and in particular how to behave around gentlemen.
- At the start of their second week at Finishing School seven ladettes are faced with a daunting challenge: The ladettes must create quail and pheasant ravioli; nine bird roast with dauphine potatoes; and sherry trifle and langues du chat. Under the fearsome tutelage of cookery teacher Rosemary Shrager, the girls – none of whom can even cook scrambled eggs – have got just five days to master some of the hardest techniques in haut cuisine.
- Liz Brewer, Egglestone Hall's etiquette teacher considers the forthcoming event: “The whole objective is to actually make yourself attractive and desirable to these young men that are coming to dinner.” “You've got to be sexy, but not obvious. Titillating but not tacky.”
- Assessing the girls, Liz quickly realizes that this might be their biggest obstacle and the group are all packed off for a mini makeover in order to make themselves appear more presentable and feminine.
- This week the ladettes get the chance to be chalet girls in Verbier, one of Switzerland's most prestigious ski resorts. Being a chalet girl was a rite of passage for Finishing School graduates... The ladettes soon discover that being a chalet girl is no holiday. They'll have to prepare gourmet meals on an extremely tight budget, keep the chalet in impeccable condition and play hostess to eight demanding men.
- Meanwhile at Eggleston Hall, scouser Louise Porter, Chelsea Fan Laura Hearsum and barmaid Rebecca Squire have been set an unforgiving timetable of deportment, elocution and flower-arranging lessons.
- This week the teachers leave the five ladettes alone at Eggleston Hall to host a country house weekend. They will be provided with domestic staff including a butler and must lay on two days of well-planned hospitality for a selection of eligible bachelors. According to Debrett's Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners “At its best the country house weekend probably represents the pinnacle of Anglo Saxon culture; at its worst it can be torture beyond compare for all concerned”. Leaving the ladettes in charge of Eggleston Hall is a huge gamble and there's little sign they are up to the challenge.
- Wearing dresses they have made Eggleston Hall the ladettes will each make an entrance and be judged on their poise, grooming, confidence and elocution by a selection of aristocrats.
- Iin addition to preparing for the Ball the girls must pass exams in all subjects in order to graduate. They've got just four days left to perfect their flower-arranging, elocution, deportment, and to make a gigantic seven-tiered cake which will be on display at the ball threatening to collapse spectacularly if they get it wrong.