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Upstairs Downstairs (BBC-1 2010-2012, Keeley Hawes, Claire Foy)

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‘This house is going to see such life!’

Beloved 1970’s drama series Upstairs Downstairs is given a sumptuous new revival in this BBC production. It’s 1936 and the new owners of 165 Eaton Place, Sir Hallam Holland and his wife Lady Agnes (who have been living in America as part of a diplomatic posting) move in determined to restore the house to its former glory but the Hollands find that their first year in the house doesn’t play out quite as they planned.

There are more than a few storm clouds gathering in Europe and the Hallams find that fitting out the house with servants is no longer as easy as it once was, Lady Hallam turns to Bucks of Belgravia to help solve the servant issue. It turns out that the owner Rose Buck was once a prominent member of the below stairs household.

With renovations under way Lady Agnes is more than a little put out by the arrival of not only Sir Hallams mother Maud, fresh from India and with Sikh servant in tow but also the arrival of Agne’s flighty sister Lady Persie who also moves into Eaton Place.

Lady Agnes quickly realises that Rose needs to be an integral part of things at 165 and with her help she manages to find a cook in the shape of nose in the air Mrs Thackeray, 15 year old housemaid Ivy and footman Johnny, however the perfect Butler seems a little harder to find until Rose stumbles upon Mr Pritchard.

Wonderful to see this old classic given such a gorgeous make over, fabulous of cast and with plenty of nods to the original that should keep devotees happy. Nice to see Jean Marsh (who co-created the original) still around as Rose (even if the age gap is well wide of the mark, it’s only supposed to have been a few years since the Bellamy’s sold Eaton Place after all) and it’s a nice touch having series co-creator Eileen Atkins playing Lady Maud too. Atkins was supposed to have been in the original series but stage commitments kept her otherwise occupied.

production details
UK | BBC One | 9×60 minute episodes | Broadcast Sunday 26 2010 – 25 March 2012

Creators: Jean Marsh, Eileen Atkins
Producer: Nikki Wilson
cast
KEELEY HAWES as Lady Agnes Holland
ED STOPPARD as Sir Hallam Holland
JEAN MARSH as Rose Buck
EILEEN ATKINS as Maud, Lady Holland
CLAIRE FOY as Lady Persie
ANNE REID as Mrs Thackeray
ART MALIK as Mr Amanjit
ADRIAN SCARBOROUGH as Mr Pritchard
NEIL JACKSON as Harry Spargo
ELLIE KENDRICK as Ivy Morris
NICO MIRALLEGRO as Johnny Proude

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