A period drama that introduces a mix of British-Irish culture, ‘Miss Scarlet and The Duke’ takes place during the Victorian Era, in the hustle and bustle of London. A young woman, Eliza Scarlet (Kate Phillips), has to deal with her father’s (Kevin Doyle) death, which has left her without a penny to even meet ends. As a result, she has to find a way to survive while at the same time, elude marriage, which is deemed as the only solution to financial security.
Therefore, she revives her father’s detective agency and teams up with Detective William Wellington (Stuart Martin), also known as the Duke, a first-class ladies man who is also her childhood friend. Together, they solve cases that keep piling up in the city of debauchery. The show is an empowering tale of feminism where Eliza is persistently hounded by patriarchy. Eliza’s experiences are universally relatable to women all over the world, which made us think: is it based on a true story? Let’s find out.
Is Miss Scarlet and The Duke Based on a True Story?
No, ‘Miss Scarlet and The Duke’ is not based on a true story. It is an original script by Rachael New. The show carries themes of gender-based inequality and patriarchy that are very much in tune with the facts. For instance, the Women’s Suffrage Movement, which is encouragingly portrayed, is based on the protests that stormed into the early 20th-century culture. The participating women fought for their right to vote and took to the streets. They conducted organized marches and hunger strikes and even resorted to disobedience.
Rachael New, who created the idea behind London’s first woman detective Scarlet, talked about her experiences. She took on inspiration from Charles Dickens, a prominent period writer who represented his stories through vibrant literature. The personality of Scarlet’s character was additionally inspired by her family’s historians- her in-laws. She said that they helped her create a female version of Sherlock Holmes.
New soaked in elements from her favorite literary characters- Eliza Bennett (‘Pride and Prejudice’) and Scarlet O’Hara (‘Gone with the Wind’) and merged them to hone Scarlet’s personality. Her research for the same included books, documentaries, and podcasts that she religiously devoured. The end result turned out to be a progressive and gifted 19th-century woman trapped in a man’s world. She also wanted Eliza Scarlet to be liked. She wanted audiences to relate to her struggle and root for her. Therefore, her father further adds more spine to her character since he is the one who trains and educates her.
Scarlet turns out to be fiercely independent and headstrong. She is determined not to marry to gain financial security, a theme that was dominantly prevalent in Edwardian and Victorian England. She instead wants to work and earn money on her own accord. For that, she has to take on the patriarchy with courage and be smart with her choices. New was fascinated with the idea of depicting a woman who stands against the storm and manages to hold her ground despite limits placed by the times. New ultimately declared that it’s not based on a true story, although it would have been outrageously empowering to have a female detective running her own business in the 19th century.
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