The Paradise is a period drama which takes place in North Eastern England in 1875. The show follows a young woman named Denise who takes a position working in the world's first department store, The Paradise. Viewers get an intriguing look at the inner workings of a large store in the 19th century as well as the impact such a store has on the smaller establishments near by. If you're looking for drama and love, don't worry - there's plenty of that too!
The Paradise is only 2 seasons long and here in the United States we are still waiting for Season 2 to become available. I watched Season 1 on Netflix and was immediately entranced. I watched all 8 episodes in one day and then watched them again giving myself more time to absorb it all. Since I am avoiding Season 2 spoilers this article will focus on the basics Season 1. No spoilers on the first season though either - I hate to ruin it for anyone else!
Book or Show?
The Paradise's Inspiration
As it states in the credits, the BBC show, The Paradise was loosely based on the French novel, Au Bonheur des dames (The Ladies' Paradise) which tells the tale of a young woman named Denise who begins working in the first department store in Paris.
The book details the inner workings of early department stores, the rivalries between the women working there and the love story that develops between Denise and her employer, the widower, Mr. Mouret.
Those who are familiar with the show will see the similarities between the book and the show. The show, of course takes place in Northern England rather than Paris but many of the storylines and details have been taken from the book for a delightful and realistic drama.
The Paradise Department Store
The Paradise is a fictional department store but it was based on real department stores of the era. In the book, the store was modeled after La Bon Marche's, the first department store in Paris.
In making the show, the BBC decided to move their department store from Paris to Newcastle and they modeled The Paradise store after Bainbridge's, which has claimed the status of being the first department store in the world. Bainbridge's opened in 1938 and still exists today although the name has been changed to John Lewis Newcastle.
The Paradise was filmed on location at Lambton Castle in County Durham. It was chosen for it's beautiful interior which BBC transformed to look like the inside of a luxiourious shop. TO read more about Lambton Castle and how it became The Paradise, please visit the BBC Website.
Characters and Cast
shopgirl from Scotland
The Paradise's Owner
Moray's love interest
Head of Ladies Wear
Moray's Business Associate
head of security
a shopgirl with a troubled past
a cheerful shopgirl & Denise's friend
The Paradise Trailer
Are you a fan of The Paradise?
The Paradise Review
This show, like many things seen on PBS Masterpiece entranced me. The costumes, the scenery and even the characters are beautiful and draw you right into the story. I love historical fiction so obviously, this was an easy choice for me when I saw it available on Netflix.
BBC's recreation of a 19th century department store is just stunning. I feel very jealous of the ladies who got to shop in such finery. It's nothing at all like the department stores of today which rush you about and throw bargain signs at you. Seeing the impact The Paradise had on small business really spoke to me as a small business owner as well. We sacrifice a lot for the convenience of shopping at the big stores. I never realized that department stores started so long ago.
The costumes are also gorgeous. I've never been the kind of girl who's really into fashion but hearing Denise talk about the new fashions from Paris was delightful. It's fun to watch the customers walk through the store in their finery and Katherine is always dressed to impress!
I'm a sucker for drama and The Paradise has that in spades, from abandoned babies to love triangles and so much more. My favorite part is watching the push and pull of the relationship between Moray and Denise. Seeing Moray fight with himself about his love for his dead wife, Katherine's love for him and his growing feelings for Denise gave my sentimental heart a tug.