Last night, UK television viewers had a chance to return to 165 Eaton Place and all the nostalgia, charm and drama of the 1970’s beloved series Upstairs Downstairs when the first episode of the new series, “The Fledgling,” premiered to much acclaim. *goosebumps* We have seen it. We were mesmerized.
We won’t reveal spoilers for North American audiences who will not have a chance to see the three new episodes until they air on Masterpiece Classic PBS on April 10, 17 & 24 next year, but will tempt our readers with a few teasers. The scene when Rose returns to her former home at 165 Eaton Place after many years will require a hanky, and we are happy to see scene stealing conceded to age and experience over youth and beauty. Dame Eileen Atkins as the Dowager Lady Holland and Jean Marsh as Miss Rose Buck dominated every scene over their younger compatriots. This was a nice twist and one of the rewards of being the series original creators in the 1970’s.
If you would like to learn more about this wonderful new revival of Upstairs Downstairs, we direct you to a flattering array of advance publicity and glowing reviews:
- Upstairs Downstairs: how the BBC brought back a classic: The Telegraph
- Upstairs Downstairs, BBC One, review: The Telegraph
- Downton Abbey creator praises Upstairs Downstairs: The Guardian
- Upstairs Downstairs is back: The Guardian
- Upstairs Downstairs returns, as the BBC plays masters and servants: The Scotland Herald
And, for those who are unaware of this new series based on the classic British drama series of the same name that originally aired in the 1970’s, here is brief blurb from our Masterpiece Classic 2011 season preview:
The original Upstairs, Downstairs cast, top row: Jean Marsh, Christopher Beeny, Angela Baddeley, Gordon Jackson, Jacqueline Tong. Middle: Simon Williams, Meg Wynn Owen, David Langton. Front: Lesley-Anne Down and Jenny Tomasin
From 1971-1975, I was enthralled by the life of the wealthy Bellamy family and the servants of 165 Eaton Place in the British drama Upstairs Downstairs on Masterpiece Theater. Set in a large townhouse in London from the Edwardian period until post WWI, the series was, and still is, incredibly popular. I was delighted to hear that co-creators Jean Marsh and Dame Eileen Atkins were behind the updated version of one of the most-loved and most-honored series in television history. Both ladies will be part of the cast; Marsh returning as the only original cast member reprising her Emmy-winning role as Rose Buck, and Atkins will introduce new character Maud, the Dowager Lady Holland. The script is by Emmy-nominee Heidi Thomas who brought us the delightful Cranford in 2009. Three 90-minute episodes.
The new cast is quite impressive, if not downright blinding in star quality:
The upstairs cast
- Maud, the Dowager Lady Holland (Dame Eileen Atkins), the matriarch
- Sir Hallam Holland (Ed Stoppard), master of the house
- Lady Agnes Holland (Keeley Hawes), his wife
- Lady Persephone “Persie” Towyn (Claire Foy), the debutant sister of Lady Agnes
The downstairs cast:
- Miss Rose Buck (Jean Marsh), the housekeeper
- Mr. Pritchard (Adrian Scarborough), the butler
- Mrs. Thackeray (Anne Reid), the cook
- Mr. Amanjit (Art Malik), the secretary
- Harry Spargo (Neil Jackson), the chauffeur
- Rachel Perlmutter (Helen Bradbury), parlourmaid
- Johnny Proude (Nico Mirallegro), footman in training
- Ivy Morris (Ellie Kendrick), kitchen maid
Upstairs Downstairs airs on three consecutive nights, December 26, 27 and the 28, 2010 on BBC One in the UK. Be sure to catch appearances by Austen actors Blake Ritson (Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park 2007) and Anthony Calf (Colonel Fitzwilliam in Pride and Prejudice 1995).
- Visit the official Upstairs Downstairs site at BBC One
- The Fledgling: Episode 1
- The Ladybird: Episode 2
- The Cuckoo: Episode 3
Images courtesy © BBC Worldwide Ltd 2010