Review: Season 1 of The Paradise

The Paradise

Season one of the BBC period drama The Paradise is available now on Netflix and DVD or from Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, and iTunes. Season 2 has shown on BBC One, but it isn’t available in the U.S. yet at any of the sources I mentioned.

The series is about the people who work in the first department store in England, The Paradise, and others who are connected to the store as friends, customers or family. Set in the second half of the nineteenth century, with all the British class issues of the time at front and center, The Paradise teems with interesting characters and events.

Carrying us into the story is Denise (Joanna Vanderham from What Maisie Knew). She is hired as a shopgirl at The Paradise.

Joanna Vanderham as Denise
Joanna Vanderham as Denise

Denise is a brilliant salesperson and quickly becomes an asset to The Paradise and a threat to her her colleagues and her immediate supervisor, Miss Audrey (Sarah Lancashire). Denise is smarter about sales and business than anyone in the store, including the owner, and quickly realizes that she wants to BE the owner. She has a gift for describing fabrics and colors in the most sensuous terms that make customers almost fall over themselves to buy.

Sarah Lancashire as Miss Audrey
Sarah Lancashire as Miss Audrey

Unmarried and an early example of what would now be called a career woman, Miss Audrey has been at The Paradise for many years. This is the show Sarah Lancashire left to play Caroline in Last Tango in Halifax. While I’ll miss her when season 2 finally makes it across the pond, I applaud her wisdom is seeing the opportunity and star potential of Last Tango in Halifax over this interesting but typical costume drama. Miss Audrey is well played and pivotal to Denise’s career, but not the best thing about The Paradise. Caroline Elliot is definitely the best thing about Last Tango in Halifax.

Emun Elliott as Mr. Moray
Emun Elliott as Mr. Moray

The owner and mastermind behind the concept of retail department store selling in England is the boss, Mr. Moray (Emun Elliott). Mr. Moray is charming and handsome and persuasive where business is concerned. He’s in mourning for his first wife while half-heartedly courting Katherine and falling in love with Denise. It might be more accurate to say he’s courting Katherine’s father who has the money to be a business investor in the store, while paying attention to Katherine in the process.

Elaine Cassidy as Katherine
Elaine Cassidy as Katherine

Katherine (Elaine Cassidy) is in love with Moray and rejects other more suitable men in favor of this fellow who really doesn’t care for her at all. She may grow a bit bitter about her situation in season 2.

Swirling around this key cast of characters are workers at The Paradise, members of the British upper class who revolve around Katherine’s family, and some family and friends of the characters. One in particular who is important is Edmund, (Peter Wight) who is both Denise’s uncle and a former suitor of Miss Audrey’s. Edmund runs a failing shop directly across the street from The Paradise. By the end of season 1, Denise is using her business smarts to help bring his business back.

Here’s an official trailer.

This is a fan trailer. It’s good, but the ‘viewer discretion advised’ line is kinda silly.

You can read more at the BBC One site for The Paradise. I recommend the show wholeheartedly if you have access to it on any of the streaming services I mentioned.

From Twitter Friends

I asked if any of my Twitter followers had comments about the show, and NptexasNancy responded with a comment about the shortcuts used at the end of season 1:


All photos ©BBC One

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