Lace (TV series)

"Lace" is a television miniseries, produced in 1984, based on the novel of the same name by author Shirley Conran. The plot concerns the search by sex symbol Lili (Phoebe Cates) for her natural mother, who surrendered her for adoption as a newborn.

The mini-series is most famous for the line "Which one of you bitches is my mother?" spoken by Lili, when she finally assembles the three potential candidates - Pagan Trelawney (Brooke Adams), Judy Hale (Bess Armstrong) and Maxine Pascal (Arielle Dombasle).


The story opens circa 1980 at an abandoned chateau in the Swiss Alps, once a prestigious boarding school, L'Hirondelle.

The internationally famous film siren Lili (Phoebe Cates) travels from there to a private meeting with the elderly Hortense Boutin (Angela Lansbury), who Lili knows was paying money on behalf of one of the school's students to a family which adopted the student's illegitimate child.

Lili is the child, now grown up.

The story then flashes back to 1960, introducing schoolgirls Pagan Trelowney (Brooke Adams), Judy Hale (Bess Armstrong) and Maxine Pascal (Arielle Dombasle).

Through misadventure and romance, each finds herself entangled with a man - Pagan with Prince Abdullah of Sydon (Anthony Higgins), Judy with banker Nick Cliffe (Simon Chandler) and Maxine with ice hockey player Pierre Boursal (François Guétary).

All three romances come to naught, but one of the three falls pregnant. Knowing it means ruin for the unwed mother, the three make a pact to protect her identity. All three present themselves to the local doctor, Dr Geneste (Anthony Quayle), deciding not to reveal which of them is pregnant until the last possible moment, and he agrees to assist in having the child adopted.

The only clue offered, is a remark by the Doctor, when he finally discovers the identity of the mother-to-be: "Of the three of you, you are the one I least suspected." The child, Elizabeth Lace, is born on November 17, 1960. The mother's birth name is recorded as Lucinda Lace.

An attempt by the school's headmaster Monsieur Chardin (Herbert Lom) to expel the girls is thwarted when they unearth photographs of him in a homosexual tryst with the school's chauffer, Paul (Jonathan Hyde). They blackmail Chardin into allowing them to stay, and graduating them with honors.

The child is placed with a foster family. On their behalf, Maxine's aunt, Hortense Boutin (Angela Lansbury), agrees to pay money to a couple who consent to raise the child. The three women, though they initially promise to retrieve the child, do not do so.

The three girls, on the verge of success in their respective careers, receive a report that the child has been killed, and previously suppressed resentment, jealousy and shame erupts into a feud between the three, and they go their separate ways.

In fact, Lili - the child - survived and transforms herself into a soft-core porn actress, and finally a film sex symbol. Her ambition is extraordinary, but her drive comes from a desire to find the woman who abandoned her, and punish her for the years of suffering, first in a labour camp, and then on the streets of Paris, which Lili has endured.

Employing a private investigator, Lili tracks the payments to her adopted parents to Hortense, and through her, finds out about the three schoolfriends, and their pact. She knows one of them is her mother.

Pagan Trelowney is now Lady Swann, a British aristocrat, and the wife of a famous cancer researcher who devotes her time to raising money for his charitable foundation, Judy Hale has become a respected journalist, war correspondent and, now publisher of Lace magazine, while Maxine Pascal is now the Countess de Chazalle, a French socialite, who has rebuilt her husband's estate.

Slowly, deliberately, Lili enveigles herself in the life of the three women - promising then reneging on an exclusive interview with Judy to re-launch her magazine, offering and threatening to take away from Pagan a charity premiere of her new film to raise money for research, and seducing Maxine's son, intending to estrange him from his mother.

Lili's intention is, if they do not reveal which of them is her mother, to ruin all three.

At the conclusion of the first part of the two parts of the mini-series, Lili assembles the three former friends, and challenges them with the mini-series most famous line: "Which one of you bitches is my mother?".

The second part of the mini-series is driven largely by flashbacks to the three women's young adulthood, charting their respective career successes, and returning occasionally to the present where all three are in the company of the woman who claims to be the abandoned daughter.

At the conclusion of the second part, Lili presents them with irrefutable evidence of her birth - the date, the doctor's name, and all the details the women thought were secret. Ironically however, this revelation is what ultimately helps to repair their estranged friendship and they decide that, for the first time, Lili's mother is "on her own".

In the final scene of the mini-series, the identity of Lili's mother is revealed. It is Judy Hale.


Lace made its debut on American television on February 26, 1984.


"Lace" was produced by Gary Adelson, Preston Fischer, Lynn Guthrie and David Jacobs. The original music, including the title theme, was composed by Nick Bicât. It was directed by William Hale, from a script by Elliott Baker.


* Judy Hale (Bess Armstrong)
* Pagan Trelowney (Brooke Adams)
* Maxine Pascal (Arielle Dombasle)
* "Lili", born Elizabeth Lace (Phoebe Cates)
* Prince Abdullah of Sydon (Anthony Higgins)
* Aunt Hortense Boutin (Angela Lansbury)
* Nick Cliffe (Simon Chandler)
* Pierre Boursal (François Guétary)

Actress Annette Badland has a small role in the film, as the plump, vindictive student Helga "Piggy" Fassbinder. Badland recent played the recurring villain Margaret Slitheen in the 2005 series of "Doctor Who".

Video and DVD

"Lace" was released on home video in the UK and Germany through Warner Bros. on March 27, 1995. It was PAL format. The German release was a UK import.

It has not yet been released on DVD.


"Lace" was followed by Lace 2. The sequel aired in the US on May 5, 1985.

The principal cast was identical to "Lace", with two exceptions: Deborah Raffin replaces Bess Armstrong in the role of Judy Hale, and Michael Fitzpatrick replaced Simon Chandler as Nick Cliffe.

The plot of Lace 2 involved Lili's search for the identity of her father. It used, with somewhat less success, the marketing line "Which one of you bastards is my father?".


The novel on which "Lace" was based, also titled Lace, was written by Shirley Conran.

It was first published in the United States by Simon & Schuster on July 1, 1982. The hardcover edition ran 604 pages.

External links

* [ IMDb entry]

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