The Bad Baronets of Ruddigore are accursed!Ever since Sir Rupert Murgatroyd, the first Baronet, had a witch burned at the stake, they have been doomed to carry out a crime every day or to die in agony. Sooner or later, every one of them sickened to the life of crime and paid the penalty, until Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd attempted to escape his fate by running away to the village of Redderring under the name of Robin Oakapple, leaving his youngest brother Despard to inherit the title and its curse. Despard has become the blackest of villains while Robin lives a blameless life as a farmer. He loves Rose Maybud, the prettiest girl in the village, but is too shy to tell her.
Rederring runs a team of professional bridesmaids, who are always on the look-out for weddings in which to take part. They have high hopes that Rose Maybud will oblige them by getting engaged, but Rose, though she is in love with Robin, is guided in life by the advice in her little book of etiquette and will not give him any encouragement. Unless Robin can conquer his shyness, the situation seems hopeless. However, the arrival of Richard Dauntless, Robins foster brother, who has just returned from fighting the French at sea, suggests a solution. He offers to court Rose on Robin's behalf, but instead falls for her himself, and quickly wins her affection. This cures Robin's shyness immediately and, when he reminds Rose how rich he is and how many vices all sailors have, she promises him her hand.
Mad Margaret now makes an appearance. She has been driven out of her wits by Sir Despard's cruel treatment of her, and enlists Rose's sympathy. They hide from Despard when he enters with his dissolute friends, who are quick to charm the naive village maidens. Richard, who knows the family history, seizes the opportunity to regain Rose's favour by telling Despard that his brother Ruthven is still alive.
The villagers gather to celebrate the wedding of Rose and Robin, but the festivities are disrupted by Despard, who reveals Robin's true identity to the shocked crowd. Rose rejects Robin at once, and offers her hand to Despard instead. Despard, however, never having been truly wicked, makes amends to Margaret by reaffirming his love for her. Rose therefore accepts her poor but passionate suitor, Richard, and Robin is left to resume his place as the Bad Baronet of Ruddigore.
Robin has been accompanied to Ruddigore Castle by Old Adam, his faithful servant, who has changed his name to the more sinister Gideon Crawle. They are doing their best to pursue a life of crime, but Robin is too soft-hearted even to refuse his consent to the marriage of Rose and Richard, who arrive with all the bridesmaids to seek his permission. This lax behaviour enrages his ghostly ancestors, the previous Baronets of Ruddigore, and they step down from their portraits to punish him. Led by Sir Roderic, Ruthven's immediate predecessor, they demand that he carry off a lady, or submit to death by ghostly torture.
Not unnaturally, he agrees to do as they ask, and Gideon Crawle is sent to find a lady and bring her back to the Castle for a fate worse than death. Robin's bad heir day continues with the arrival of Despard and Margaret, newly married and much changed, though Margaret has trouble maintaining her new image. They too reproach Robin and exhort him to abandon his life of crime, which Robin considers a bit rich coming from Despard. However, it's all in vain, for Gideon returns with the maiden he has selected, and events take yet another unexpected turn...
|Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd (Robin)||Candice Marcus||James Craw|
|Richard Dauntless||Andrew Armstrong||Tony White|
|Sir Despard||David MacTier||Andrew Armstrong|
|Sir Roderic||Chris Bailward||Chris Bailward|
|Old Adam Goodheart||Royce Gay||Nick Presdee|
|Rose Maybud||Myfanwy Brember||Lucy D'Cruz|
|Mad Margaret||Susan Wales||Katherine Davies|
|Dame Hannah||Candice Marcus||Linda Mumford|
|Zorah||Charlotte Bennett||Sarah Fraser|
|Ruth||Naomi Thorp||Kym White|
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