Four-part series in which Mary Berry discovers the rich history of the nation's greatest stately homes.
Status: In Development
Runtime: 60 minutes
Mary Berry's Country House Secrets - Mary Alice Young - Netflix
Mary Alice Young (previously Angela Forrest) is a fictional character from the ABC television series Desperate Housewives. The character was created by television producer and screenwriter Marc Cherry and is portrayed by Brenda Strong, who also serves as the narrator of the series from beyond the grave; the character's suicide in the pilot episode served as the catalyst of the series. The narration provided by Mary Alice is essential to the tale of Wisteria Lane, as the series revolves around her sharing the secrets of her friends and neighbors. Her narration technique is akin in style to Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology (1915). Mary Alice is considered the most mysterious of the housewives as only parts of her story are known. A loving, doting wife and mother who was generous to her family and neighbours, she was the last person any of them expected to commit suicide. In death, Mary Alice sees things she would not have seen when she was alive: her friends' vulnerabilities, lies, and secrets. She does not judge them so much as love them more because of their foibles, pitying them for the ways they manipulate and hurt those they care about most. Although deceased since the pilot episode, Mary Alice continued to have a leading storyline throughout the first and second seasons of the series, with the story being led by her husband Paul Young (Mark Moses) and son Zach (Cody Kasch). Thereafter, Strong continued to make sporadic appearances as Mary Alice in flashbacks, dreams and as a ghost to other characters while narrating almost every episode of the series. Strong was the subject of acclaim for both her portrayal and narration as the character, with some critics describing her voice as one of the most recognizable on television at the end of the series. She was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for her narration as Mary Alice and received two Screen Actors Guild Awards as a cast member of Desperate Housewives.
Mary Berry's Country House Secrets - Casting and development - Netflix
In Marc Cherry's first script for the pilot of Desperate Housewives, the character was originally named Mary Alice Scott, but he was later forced to change the character's surname when the series was picked up by ABC. In the book Desperate Housewives: Behind Closed Doors, a companion to the first season of the series, he explained: “We changed Mary Alice Scott to Mary Alice Young because we couldn't get the name cleared with our lawyers. If over three people in the country have that name you're fine but with anything less than that, they make you use a different name. Apparently there was one Mary Alice Scott in the country.” The role of Mary Alice was originally given to Sheryl Lee, who portrayed the character in the original pilot that was filmed for ABC, but Lee was soon replaced by Strong after Cherry and the producers decided that Lee was not right for the part. Marcia Cross, who would later be cast as Bree Van de Kamp, also expressed interest in Mary Alice, but after reading for the part Cherry insisted that she read for Bree instead. Strong explained in Desperate Housewives: Behind Closed Doors that she believed there to be a “conceptual shift” after the filming of the original pilot with Lee, and “they realized they needed something different”, stating: “There certainly wasn't something wrong with what [Lee] did. It was just that instead of vanilla they wanted chocolate, and I happened to be chocolate. When I walked in to audition, Marc Cherry was so sweet. He said, 'I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to close my eyes, because I really want to hear how you sound.' When I was done with the audition, he opened his eyes and this angelic smile crept across his face, and I thought, 'Oh, good. Something went right.'” The actress also explained that she watched the pilot filmed with Lee and while that was helpful for her own portrayal, she saw that what she had to offer for the role was different, saying: “It's a little strange when you watch someone else in a role you're auditioning for because his or her performance lives in your mind. It can be hard to distinguish yourself sometimes, but I had fun with it.” Scenes featuring Lee were refilmed with Strong as her replacement. Strong stated years later that her role and narration as Mary Alice led to her voice becoming significantly recognizable, explaining in a 2012 interview with Entertainment Weekly that fans of the series would recognize her in coffee shops solely by her voice. The actress served as the narrator of almost every episode of the series, with the exceptions of the third season episode “My Husband, the Pig” (in which Steven Culp narrates the episode as the deceased Rex Van de Kamp) and the fifth season episode “Look Into Their Eyes and You See What They Know” (in which Nicollette Sheridan narrates the episode as the deceased Edie Britt).
The mystery surrounding Mary Alice and her family was the main storyline in the first season of the series, and it is resolved in the first-season finale. Cherry had wanted there to be a “definite end” to the mystery, hoping to avoid similar viewer fatigue that Twin Peaks suffered after drawing out its central mystery past its first season. ABC executives initially protested the writers' decision to have Mary Alice purposefully kill Deirdre Taylor (Jolie Jenkins), the woman whose child she had illegally purchased, prompting the writers to make Deirdre violent in order to justify Mary Alice's actions. Although Mary Alice and her family do not have much of a leading storyline thereafter, the mystery surrounding the character's suicide in the inaugural season is said to have informed and influenced every other season of the series. In 2006, when asked during an interview what viewers could expect from Mary Alice for the series' third season, Strong said that the character was “going to be back with an attitude”, stating: “She will be a little less surreal, ethereal and a little more sassy, which means the show is going to be sassier.” During the series' final season in 2011, the actress appears as Mary Alice's ghost to her suicidal friend Bree (Marcia Cross). Strong enjoyed filming that particular scene, as it was the only scene during the entire series that featured solely Mary Alice and Bree. She described the scene as one of her personal favorites and called it an “extraordinary opportunity”, saying: “In a way, Mary Alice becomes [Bree's] conscious and her guide and her muse in knowing what to do with her life. And it was an exquisitely written scene and it was really, I think in my experience on the show, one of my favorite scenes I have ever shot.”
Mary Berry's Country House Secrets - References - Netflix