Upstairs, Downstairs Again!

The original series "Upstairs, Downstairs" began in the 1970's and ran to 68 episodes over five years.  It chronicled the life of the wealthy politician Richard Bellamy, his wife Lady Marjorie and their family upstairs at 165 Eaton Place, Belgravia, London, as well as the life downstairs of the many servants required to run the fashionable townhouse.  The series began as the idea of two famous British actresses, Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh.  Ms. March was one of the stars and the linchpin of the series as the senior parlourmaid, Rose.  The show covers the period from 1903 to 1930 in England and deals with many of the events and scandals of those days.  Everything from the Titanic sinking to the first World War and the influenza epidemic of 1918 affect the lives of all of those at 165 Eaton Place.  Misbehavior both up and downstairs provides plenty of plot points. 

Although the show started slow, it picked up thousands of devoted followers as the series progressed.  The series took home Emmy and Golden Globe awards while also winning many Best Actor and Best Actress awards for the cast.  So the announcement that Jean Marsh, Eileen Atkins and the BBC were going to pick up six years after the old series left off was warmly greeted and snapped up by PBS' Masterpiece for the American audience. 

The new show consisted of three episodes with the new owners, diplomat Sir Hallam Howard and his wife Lady Agnes taking possesion of 165 Eaton Place, the insides of which are in need of much renovation.  Lady Agnes, played by Keely Hawes, need domestic help and goes to the office of Rose Buck, again played by Jean Marsh to engage her staff.  She also asks Rose to help train the staff and eventually, take on the job of housekeeper.  The background of the British Fascist movement and the death of George V with the heir to the throne, the playboy Edward VIII  proves lots of opportunity for Sir Hallam to show off his diplomatic chops.  He counsels the agonizing Duke of York, who truly loves his brother Edward, but realizes his marriage to the twice-divorced Mrs. Wallis Simpson will cause a constitutional crisis for the Empire.  The Duke, "Bertie" becomes King George VII when his brother abdicates to marry "the woman I love."  Through all this the staff upstairs and the family upstairs also have their share of troubles.  This issue is also the background for the recent hit movie, "The Kings Speech."

We have both television series here at JDL.  The second series moves much quicker than the first and is a delightful way to spend 3 hours.  The BBC is planning to produce 6 - 1 hour episodes in the future, according to Wikipedia.  This link will give you a summary of all the episodes of the first season.  If you enjoyed "Downton Abbey" or the "Forsyte Saga", I'm sure you'll enjoy these as well.  Because the first series is so long, the set comes with a three week checkout date.   Check them out now!