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Upstairs, Downstairs (1971 TV series)

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Title: Upstairs, Downstairs (1971 TV series)  
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Collection: 1970S British Television Series, 1971 British Television Programme Debuts, 1975 British Television Programme Endings, Bafta Winners (Television Series), Best Drama Series Golden Globe Winners, English-Language Television Programming, Fictional Servants, Itv Television Dramas, London Weekend Television Programmes, Peabody Award Winning Television Programs, Period Television Series, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series Winners, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries Winners, Television Series by Itv Studios, Television Series Set in the 1900S, Television Series Set in the 1910S, Television Series Set in the 1920S, Television Series Set in the 1930S, Television Shows Set in London, Upstairs, Downstairs, World War I Television Drama Series
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Upstairs, Downstairs (1971 TV series)

Upstairs, Downstairs
Genre Drama
Created by
Developed by Alfred Shaughnessy
Written by
Theme music composer Alexander Faris
Opening theme "The Edwardians"
Ending theme "What Are We Going To Do With Uncle Arthur?"
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 68 (List of episodes)
Producer(s) John Hawkesworth
Running time 50 minutes
Production company(s) LWT
Original channel ITV
Picture format PAL (576i) 4:3 aspect ratio
Audio format Mono
Original run 10 October 1971 (1971-10-10) – December 1975 (1975-12)
Followed by Upstairs Downstairs (2010 TV series)

Upstairs, Downstairs is a British television drama series originally produced by London Weekend Television and revived by the BBC. It ran on ITV in 68 episodes divided into five series from 1971 to 1975.

Set in a large townhouse in Edwardian, First World War and interwar Belgravia in London, the series depicts the lives of the servants "downstairs" and their masters—the family "upstairs". Great events feature prominently in the episodes but minor or gradual changes are also noted. The series stands as a document of the social and technological changes that occurred between 1903 and 1930.


  • Background 1
  • Cast and characters 2
  • Plot 3
    • 1903–1910 3.1
    • 1912–1914 3.2
    • 1914–1918 3.3
    • 1919–1930 3.4
  • Episodes 4
  • Production 5
  • Awards 6
  • Spin-offs 7
  • Novelisations 8
  • Influence 9
  • Revival 10
  • DVD Video releases 11
    • Region One 11.1
    • Region Two 11.2
    • Region Four 11.3
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


Upstairs, Downstairs was originally an idea by two actress friends, [2] In summer 1969, they took this idea to Sagitta Productions, which was run by John Hawkesworth and John Whitney.[1] They soon removed the comedy element, changed the setting to a large townhouse in Edwardian London and the title became Below Stairs. It was first offered to Granada Television in Manchester, but they declined as they already had a period drama, called A Family at War, about to start.[1] However, Stella Richman, the Controller of Programmes at London Weekend Television, saw potential, and in April 1970, the first series was commissioned.[1]

Characters were then developed, but when

  • The Upstairs, Downstairs Web Pages
  • Upstairs, Downstairs Encyclopedia of Television
  • Upstairs Downstairs at the Internet Movie Database

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Inside UpDown—The Story of Upstairs, Downstairs. Kaleidoscope Publishing. 2005.  
  2. ^ a b c The Upstairs, Downstairs Web Pages
  3. ^ The Upstairs, Downstairs Web Pages - Thomas & Sarah
  4. ^ a b "BBC Guide".  
  5. ^ Midgley, Neil (2009-10-10). "Upstairs Downstairs returns to BBC". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2010-05-27. 
  6. ^ Bart Andrews and Brad Dunning, The Worst TV Shows Ever (New York: EP Dutton, 1980), pp. 7–14
  7. ^  
  8. ^ "Sesame Street -- Monsterpiece Theater: Upstairs Downstairs".  
  9. ^
  10. ^ Conlan, Tara (2007-01-11). "ITV commissions Buckingham Palace drama".  
  11. ^ "The Upshares, Downshares theme tune". PM Blog. BBC. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  12. ^ Eddie Mair (18 October 2010). "Upshares Downshares CD. How do you get one?". PM Blog. BBC. 
  13. ^ Eddie Mair (26 January 2010). "Upshares Downshares: Hear all the music and give to Children In Need!". PM Blog. BBC. 


See also

The show is rated PG in New Zealand for its low level violence.

Universal DVD released all five series to DVD in Australia and New Zealand. These were later deleted. Timelife issued the series as a mail-order collection. ITV began re-releasing the series in Australia in January 2013.

Region Four

DVDs of the series have also been released in Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

Network Video released the entire programme series-by-series from 2005 to 2006. The episodes were digitally remastered and the black-and-white episodes were put in chronological order in the first series. Some episodes also featured audio commentaries, the LWT logo, commercial bumpers and the original preceding countdowns. In addition, each series was accompanied by a special one hour documentary relating to that series featuring new and archive interviews. The fifth series release also featured the 1975 documentary Russell Harty goes . . . "Upstairs, Downstairs". In 2006, a boxed set featuring all the DVDs was released.

Upstairs, Downstairs was originally released on DVD by VCI in Region 2 (UK). The colour episodes of the first series were released in 2001 followed by the other series finishing in 2003. In 2004, the black-and-white episodes and the first episode with the original ending were released. Thomas & Sarah was released in matching packaging in 2004. In 2005, VCI stopped making these DVDs, none of which had included any extras.

Region Two

Upstairs, Downstairs was first released to Region One DVD in December 2001 by A&E Home Entertainment. During 2002, it released the remaining series and then released Thomas and Sarah on DVD in 2004. The individual releases have also been collected together into two boxed sets, the second of which, The Collector's Edition Megaset, also includes Thomas and Sarah. These are all out of print. Acorn Media is due to re-release the entire series, without Thomas and Sarah, in a 21-disc set that duplicates the content of the Network set listed below.

Region One

DVD Video releases

In 2009, the BBC announced it was to broadcast a revival of the series, with Jean Marsh reprising her role as Rose alongside a new cast in the same Eaton Place household. The new series was created and written by Heidi Thomas. The first series aired from 26 December 2010. Eileen Atkins appeared in the first series, but left her role before production on the second series began.


From November 2008 to January 2010 variations (played in different styles, e.g., a fugue, jazz, calypso, death metal) of the theme music were played on BBC Radio 4's PM programme to introduce a segment entitled "Upshares, Downshares", in which Nils Blythe ran through the day's business news.[11] In November 2010, with the composer Alexander Faris's blessing, a special CD of collected versions was released to raise money for the charity Children in Need.[12][13]

Company Pictures' 2008 television series The Palace has been described as a "modern Upstairs, Downstairs" as it features the points of view of both a fictional royal family and their servants.[10]

In 2000, a stop-motion animated series called Upstairs Downstairs Bears was based upon Upstairs, Downstairs.[9]

A Monsterpiece Theater sketch on Sesame Street, introduced/narrated by Cookie Monster (as Alistair Cookie — a play on Alistair Cooke, who was at that time the host of Masterpiece Theater), was entitled Upstairs, Downstairs and featured Grover running up and down a staircase until collapsing from exhaustion.[8]

The BBC series The Duchess of Duke Street is widely seen as the BBC's answer to Upstairs, Downstairs, not least because some of the same producers and writers worked on it, and it also has a theme tune by Faris. The 1990 BBC sitcom You Rang, M'Lord? also featured a similar situation. In the early 1990s, Marsh and Atkins created another successful period drama, The House of Eliott, for the BBC. In 1975, an American version, entitled Beacon Hill, debuted but due to low ratings it was soon cancelled, running for just thirteen episodes. Tom Wolfe called the series a plutography, i.e. a "graphic depiction of the lives of the rich".[7]


John Pearson published The Bellamys of Eaton Place (a.k.a. The Bellamy Saga) in 1976.

As well as these novelisations, five books were separately published, again by Sphere Books, with each being the biography of a main character before the series started. Rose's Story was written by Terence Brady & Charlotte Bingham and published in 1972. The following year, Mollie Hardwick's Sarah's Story and Michael Hardwick's Mr Hudson's Diaries were both published. Mr Bellamy's Story, by Michael Hardwick, was published in 1974 and Mrs Bridge's Story by Mollie Hardwick was published in 1975. Also in 1975, The Upstairs, Downstairs Omnibus, featuring all five slightly edited stories, was published.

Each series of Upstairs, Downstairs was accompanied by a novelisation, with additional detail in each, but also with some episodes missing. All books were published by Sphere Books. The novelisation of the first series, Upstairs, Downstairs or the secrets of an Edwardian household, was written by John Hawkesworth and published in 1972. Hawkesworth also wrote the series two novelisation, In My Lady's Chamber and this was published in 1973. The following year, Mollie Hardwick's novelisation of the third series, The Years of Change, was published and she also wrote the 1975 The War to End Wars, the fourth series novelisation. The fifth series, which was longer than the others, was novelised in two books, both by Michael Hardwick and published in 1975. They were called On With The Dance and Endings and Beginnings.


In 2011, the BBC ran a series entitled "Royal Upstairs Downstairs" in which Tim Wonnacott and Rosemary Shrager tour country houses visited by Queen Victoria. Tim tours the Upstairs concentrating on the architecture and events of Victoria's visit, while Rosemary concentrates on the downstairs, demonstrating recipes cooked for the Queen.

A short-lived CBS series entitled Beacon Hill, which aired in the fall of 1975, was loosely based upon Upstairs, Downstairs; its executive producer, Beryl Vertue, was Jean Marsh's literary agent and had been responsible for helping sell the original Upstairs, Downstairs to the BBC.[6]

Following the final episode of Upstairs, Downstairs many ideas for Lady Stockbridge buying back 165 Eaton Place and an American company wanted to make a programme based around Hudson and Rose emigrating to the United States. Jack Webb was interested in a series of Marsh and Gordon Jackson reprising their roles as head of a Los Angeles Employment Agency.[5] Another idea, called You Live or You Die, was to have Frederick Norton seeking his fortune in the US. A further idea would have followed Hudson, Mrs Bridges and Ruby running their seaside boarding house, and this probably would have been made had it not been for the death of Angela Baddeley on 22 February 1976. The only spin-off to make it onscreen was Thomas & Sarah, which broadcast in 1979, and this followed the adventures of Thomas and Sarah after they left Eaton Place.


Alfred Shaughnessy, script editor and frequent writer, was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award twice for the episodes "Miss Forrest" and "Another Year". John Hawkesworth, frequent writer and producer, was nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for the episode "The Bolter". Fay Weldon won a Writers Guild of America Award for Best British TV Series Script of 1971 for "On Trial".

In the United States, Upstairs, Downstairs was honoured for both the Primetime Emmy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards. In 1974, 1975, and 1977 it won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. In 1975, Jean Marsh won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, while Bill Bain won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. The following year, it won for Outstanding Limited Series and Gordon Jackson won for Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in Comedy or Drama Series, while Angela Baddeley was nominated for Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. In 1977, Jacqueline Tong was nominated for Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. For the Golden Globes, Upstairs, Downstairs won the Golden Globe Award for Best TV Show - Drama in 1975 and was nominated again for the same award in 1978. Jean Marsh was nominated in 1975 and 1977 for Best TV Actress - Drama.[4]

Upstairs, Downstairs was nominated for and won many national and international awards, winning two BAFTA awards, two Royal Television Society awards, three Writers Guild Awards, eight Emmys, and a Golden Globe. It was nominated for a further seven BAFTAs, nine Emmys and four Golden Globes. It was nominated for the BAFTA Television Award for Best Drama Series in 1972, 1973, 1975, and 1976, winning in 1972 and 1974. Pauline Collins was nominated for Best Actress in 1973 for her portrayal of Sarah Moffat and Gordon Jackson was nominated for Best Actor for playing Mr. Hudson in 1975.[4]


Each episode of Upstairs, Downstairs was made in a fortnightly production schedule. The book "Inside Updown" has a very detailed production history. The first week and a half would be spent rehearsing, with two days in the studio - the latter part of the second day being used for recording.[1] Location footage was usually shot beforehand. The exterior shots of 165 Eaton Place were filmed at 65 Eaton Place with the "1" painted on.[1] Upstairs, Downstairs was one of the first major colour productions to be made by LWT.[1] Interior sequences were first recorded in LWT's first studio production area in Wembley in London, for all of series one and the episode "A Pair of Exiles" in series two. For the rest of series two and for the remaining three series the interior sequences were recorded in LWT's brand new studio complex called Kent House, or as it is known today The London Studios on London's Southbank.


Many writers wrote episodes throughout the five series, including Alfred Shaughnessy, John Hawkesworth, Fay Weldon, Terence Brady and Charlotte Bingham, John Harrison, Julian Bond, Raymond Bowers, Jeremy Paul, Rosemary Anne Sisson, Anthony Skene and Elizabeth Jane Howard.

The opening credits of each episode featured a [2] Part of this tune would be made into the song What Are We Going to Do with Uncle Arthur?, sung by Sarah, with lyrics written by Alfred Shaughnessy. Pauline Collins released this as a single in 1973. The theme tune was also used as the processional march for the church wedding of Elizabeth and Lawrence in series 1, Episode 13: For Love of Love.

Upstairs, Downstairs ran for five series from 10 December 1971 to 21 December 1975. The first four series had thirteen episodes each, while the final series had sixteen. Due to an industrial dispute over extra payments for using newly introduced colour equipment, during which broadcasting unions refused to allow their members to use colour cameras, the first six episodes of the first series were shot in black-and-white, and when colour production resumed, the first episode was remade in colour. Two endings were made, which could be shown depending on whether the black and white episodes were broadcast by the channel. The original untransmitted black-and-white version of the first episode is believed to have been wiped.


The last scene shows Rose taking a final walk through all of the (now empty) rooms and memories at 165 Eaton Place, which is up for sale. She hears the voices of Lady Marjorie, of Mr Hudson and the sounds of many incidents she had witnessed over the years, but when she finally hears the voice of James, talking about Gregory's honourable death in the war, she realises that it is time to move on and leaves through the front door.

The final episode, in 1930, finds things looking up at Eaton Place as Georgina is married to Lord Stockbridge on 12 June 1930. Mr Hudson and Mrs Bridges also finally marry, and take the uneducated but surprisingly shrewd kitchen maid, Ruby Finch, off to the seaside with them, to run a guest house called "Seaview" (however, one can only see the cliffs from the top bedroom window, over the other houses). When asked by Rose how she feels about becoming part of the Hudsons' household, Ruby says "They'll not last long and I'll get the guest house" (i.e., because of their age). Lord Bellamy has delivered his retirement speech to the House of Lords. He and Virginia, Lady Bellamy, retire to a small villa in Dorset, keeping Rose Buck in their employ. Young Edward and his wife, Daisy, are elevated to the posts of butler and Head House Parlourmaid in the country household of the Marquess and new Marchioness of Stockbridge.

Downstairs, Edward and Daisy have left Eaton Place and are replaced by Frederick (James' batman during the war) and Lily, respectively. Edward's job prospects are dim, and a pregnant Daisy loses the baby due to malnutrition; both are re-hired at Eaton Place as chauffeur and house parlourmaid, respectively. Rose becomes children's maid and later Lady's Maid to Virginia when the children are sent off to school. Romance blooms between Hudson and Lily, but she spurns him and leaves Eaton Place. Ruby also meets a man named Herbert through magazine correspondence, but rejects him because "he was no Rudolph Valentino." Frederick discovers the allure of escorting young upper-class women to balls and other functions and ultimately leaves service.

Lord Stockbridge's parents send their son on a trip around the world to try to wean him from Georgina, under the guise of helping him discover whether his feelings are true. James returns from America, in October 1929, where he has visited Elizabeth and become rich through speculation on Wall Street. Rose allows James to invest the money Gregory left her when he died in the war, but the market crashes and James loses everything. James had also "borrowed a fair bit" that he now is unable to repay. He has disgraced his family and taken advantage of a member of staff who trusted him. Depressed and ashamed of his entire life, he goes to a hotel in Maidenhead where he commits suicide.

In the roaring 20s, Georgina and her friends rebel against the depression and hard times of the past war, but her frivolity and merriment are brought to a quick end — firstly by the suicide of a friend who professes his love for her and threatens to kill himself if she doesn't marry him, making good on this threat in the schoolroom at 165 Eaton Place, while a roaring 20s party rages below; secondly, by Georgina accidentally killing a working class man early one morning after borrowing Richard's car without asking (and without Edward driving) in order to win a prize for completing a scavenger hunt. Her friends, part of the set of moneyed, bored and pleasure-seeking "bright young things", desert her at the inquest, except the very rich but shallow Lady Dolly and the seemingly dull Lord Stockbridge, heir to a dukedom, who defends her despite his family's wishes. He is in love with Georgina and she very quickly falls in love with him. James never settles and is never able to come to terms with his war experiences and Hazel's death. Restless, he stands for Parliament, but is not elected.


In 1918, just as the War ended, Hazel dies, aged around 35, in the House of Lords as Viscount Bellamy of Haversham in the New Year Honours List of 1917.

James serves in Special Constable, Rose works as a bus conductress, and Ruby leaves Eaton Place to work in a munitions factory in Silvertown, returning to service after the Silvertown explosion. Hazel, unknowingly echoing her late mother-in-law Lady Marjorie, has a brief affair with an RFC Lieutenant named Jack Dyson who, like herself, has risen from the ranks of the middle classes. He is killed while James is at home on leave. Rose meets up with Gregory Wilmot again. After overcoming their emotional and practical hurdles, she finally agrees to marry him on his return from the war and follow him to Australia. Unfortunately he is killed in action. Rose is heartbroken but Gregory has left her £1200 in his will, enough to make her independent in her retirement. Edward returns, and while not physically wounded, suffers badly from shell shock and goes into hospital. He speaks to Richard, who comforts him as if he were his own son, assuring him that mental wounds are as real as physical, and no mark on his character.


The servants are offered a day's holiday in Herne Bay in Kent in August 1914. They enjoy a rare day out together, and Hudson goes so far as to offer a song on the vaudeville stage, but their enjoyment is curtailed by the announcement that Britain is about to go to war with Germany. Hudson sings "Rule Britannia" instead.

During a visit to Somerby, the country house of James' school-friend Lord "Bunny" Newbury in the Autumn of 1913, Edward unwittingly becomes the witness in an impending divorce case when he spies rising Tory MP Lord Charles Gilmour leaving the bedroom of a fellow MP's wife. Edward is put under pressure to lie and change his story, but he refuses, and the case is withdrawn after pressure from Richard.

Richard, who has had to sell the lease of the house to James after Lady Marjorie's death (all her money passed on to James and Elizabeth), makes money after a share tip-off from a member of his gentleman's club. Richard is later unjustly accused of insider dealing, and it is only the intervention of Hazel and Hudson that saves his career and reputation. (This plot was inspired by the Marconi scandal of 1912).

Rose, the head houseparlourmaid, is shocked when Alfred, the Bellamys' former footman, turns up at Eaton Place one night. He claims he's been sacked by his former employer and is homeless. She agrees to hide him in one of the basement rooms, but is horrified when it later transpires Alfred is actually on the run from the police having murdered his previous employer. After taking Edward hostage in the coal cellar, Alfred is arrested and eventually hanged for murder. The following year, Rose briefly becomes engaged to an Australian sheep-farmer called Gregory Wilmot whom she meets on an omnibus one day. She agrees to move to Australia with him, but later becomes frightened of making such a leap, and changes her mind, deciding to remain in the life she knows at Eaton Place.

Georgina Worsley, James' step-cousin, comes to live with the Bellamys at Christmas 1913, aged 18. Georgina is the orphaned stepdaughter of Lady Marjorie's brother Hugo. She decides to "steal" some food from the pantry and offer it to the family of Daisy, the new parlourmaid, but she is horrified when she discovers Daisy's family live in the kind of abject poverty she has never had to experience.

Richard hires Hazel to type the biography of his father-in-law, the old Earl of Southwold, which he is writing. Soon after, she and James fall in love and eventually marry. Hazel becomes mistress of the household, and they are happy for a time but start to grow apart due to James' habitual self-serving ways, but this estrangement is worsened by a miscarriage in the spring of 1914.

Lady Marjorie, her brother Hugo Talbot-Carey (the Earl of Southwold), and his new wife (widow Marion Worsley) die in the sinking of the RMS Titanic, her last known words being uttered to her maid—"Keep this for me, Roberts"—as she hands over her jewellery box. Miss Roberts returns alive refusing to let anyone touch the jewellery box, believing she is keeping it for Lady Marjorie. Richard's new secretary, Hazel Forrest, wins the hearts of all when she very gently persuades Miss Roberts to open the box. That means accepting Lady Marjorie is gone and she breaks down into sobs, as she cries, "I tried to save her! I tried to make them [the life boat] go back! I tried to save my Lady."


In 1908, the daughter Elizabeth marries a young poet, Lawrence Kirbridge. Somewhat indifferent to his new responsibilities as a householder, he also avoids the baseness of marital relations with Elizabeth, preferring her pure and muse-like, and their marriage remains unconsummated. Elizabeth has a brief affair (arranged by her husband) with her husband's publisher, which results in her becoming pregnant, later giving birth to a daughter, Lucy Elizabeth. She joins a group of militant suffragettes and attacks the home of a prominent politician, which results in her being sent to prison, only to be bailed out shortly thereafter by a wealthy Armenian gentleman called Julius Karekin. She later becomes involved with Karekin, who buys her a hat shop. But Karekin is more interested in buying his way into British society than he is in Elizabeth's affections. He buys the lease of 165 Eaton Place after the Bellamys are forced to sell in the aftermath of Lady Marjorie's father's death in 1909. He offers the lease to Elizabeth who then gives it to her parents. Richard and Lady Marjorie are in Karekin's debt. Elizabeth eventually moves to America in 1910 after her split from Karekin and divorce from Kirbridge. She is later said to have married a man named Dana. Sarah and Thomas Watkins, who had previously been employed as the valet of Lawrence Kirbridge, fall in love, resulting in Sarah becoming pregnant again. They eventually leave service. While in the Upstairs, Downstairs episode "A Family Gathering" it is stated that Thomas and Sarah were married, this fact is disregarded in the spin-off series Thomas & Sarah.[3]

The following year, 1907, Mrs Van Groeben arrives from South Africa and Emily falls madly in love with her footman, William. They spend several of their days off together, but Mrs Van Groeben gets wind of the affair, and, considering Emily to be beneath William, forbids him to see her. But the affair may have ended anyway, as William drops Emily like a stone when he learns of his mistress's disapproval, suggesting he never really cared about her anyway. Emily is madly in love, however, and cannot bear life without him. She commits suicide. Mrs, Bridges, distraught with remorse over Emily's death, steals a baby from its pram outside a shop and hides it in her room. The baby is returned to its parents by Richard and Lady Marjorie, and Mrs. Bridges only escapes a jail sentence after Hudson agrees to marry her once they are no longer in service. The role of scullery maid is first replaced first by Doris, then by Nellie, and then finally by Ruby, a hardworking young woman whom is rather slow and is frequently scolded by Mrs. Bridges.

In the summer of 1906, Lady Marjorie is enchanted by her son's friend Captain Charles Hammond, and has an affair with him. Her conscience gets the better of her and she breaks off the affair. Lady Bellamy leaves with Rose for the country, but while Rose is gone the new under-house-parlour maid, Mary Stokes, arrives in service pregnant, having been raped by Myles Radford, the son of a powerful politician and family friend. Richard Bellamy attempts to help her but the Radfords refuse to take responsibility and the legal system proves ineffective. Mary quits her job with the Bellamys, but departs with a small gift of money from some of the servants. However, a few years later, after Hammond's death in India, his former batman attempts to blackmail Lady Marjorie with some letters, written by Lady Marjorie and Captain Hammond during their affair, that have come into his possession. It is only through the deviousness of the Bellamys' chauffeur, Thomas Watkins, and Sarah (who has been hired as nursery maid for Elizabeth's baby [see below]), that the letters are returned to Lady Marjorie and a scandal averted.

Around 1905, daughter Elizabeth returns from Germany, to be prepared to be presented to the King and the Queen Consort at a social event, but her rebellious, headstrong nature causes her to flee the event. She has a talk with her servant Rose, who lectures her on the importance of duty and that it applies to everyone in the household. Elizabeth is soon enchanted with German Baron Klaus von Rimmer, who is actually a spy and plans to bribe and use her father in a lucrative military deal. He and Bellamy footman Alfred, flee to Germany after they are caught by Rose having sexual relations. Alfred is replaced by Edward Barnes, a young and naive footman whose fun-loving and immature nature initially annoys Mr Hudson.

The first and second series span the period 1903 to 1910, during the reign of Edward VII. In 1903, Sarah Moffat applies for a job as under-house-parlour maid for the Bellamy family, pretending to be of French nobility but soon revealed to be illiterate, English, and with no work history. Later in the year, Lady Marjorie poses for Bohemian artist Mr Scone, who simultaneously paints a nude portrait of Sarah and (an imagined) Rose; he exhibits both pictures at the Royal Academy, causing a scandal. Later the Bellamys go on vacation to Scotland, and, with Mr Hudson gone, the servants carouse drunkenly through the house only to be caught by son James, who promises not to disclose their misbehaviour. James and Sarah later have an affair that results in Sarah's pregnancy. James is banished to India, and Sarah is sent to live at the Southwold estate for the duration of her pregnancy, only to return to Eaton Place on the night the Bellamys host the King; Sarah goes into labour, but the baby, a son, is stillborn. James eventually returns from India just before his mother's birthday on 6 May 1910 (which coincides with the death of King Edward VII), and brings with him his brash and gushing fiancée, Phyllis, the daughter of an army vet. James eventually breaks off the engagement, however, after deciding that Phyllis is not right for him.


In the episode "Another Year" from series 4, Hazel Bellamy notes that there are two families living in the house, one upstairs and the other downstairs, which she likens to a related family: Mr Hudson and Mrs Bridges are the father and mother; Rose, the eldest daughter who lost her man at the front; Edward and his wife, Daisy; and Ruby, the youngest child.

The original servant staff comprises the authoritarian butler Mr. Angus Hudson, cook Mrs. Kate Bridges, pragmatic head house parlourmaid Rose Buck, sweet Irish kitchen maid Emily, eccentric footman Alfred, mischievous under-house parlourmaid Sarah, who dreams of a dramatic life beyond servantdom, coachman Pearce, and Lady Marjorie's lady's maid Maude Roberts. Over the years they are joined by Edward, a cheeky footman who later becomes a chauffeur; Daisy, the parlourmaid who eventually marries Edward; Thomas Watkins, the devious chauffeur who dabbles with Sarah's affections; and Ruby, the slow-witted kitchen maid.

Richard and Lady Marjorie Bellamy have two children, James and Elizabeth, who are, respectively, in their early twenties and late teens when the series starts in 1903. In 1912, James' ill-fated wife Hazel becomes the new mistress of the house, and the following year, Richard's ward, Georgina, comes to live at 165 Eaton Place.

The household is led by Lady Marjorie Bellamy (née Talbot-Carey), daughter of the Earl and Countess of Southwold, and her husband Richard Bellamy MP, the son of a country parson. They got married despite the objections of her parents and set up house at 165 Eaton Place, one of several London properties owned by Lord Southwold. Richard is a politician, and several plots revolve around his political ambitions and conflicts arising from his desire to follow his conscience and his allegiance to his father-in-law's political party, the Conservatives (the "Tories").

The stories depict the lives of the wealthy Bellamy family ("upstairs"), who reside at 165 Eaton Place in London's fashionable Belgravia, and their servants ("downstairs").


Cast and characters

Despite having a champion in Stella Richman, the show suffered from internal politics at the station, most notably from the sales department who could not see the attraction of a period drama, and master tapes of the programme spent nearly a year in storage awaiting a transmission date.[1] Eventually the network had a space in its schedule at the unfashionable time of Sunday nights at 10:15 and called upon LWT to fill it. They chose Upstairs, Downstairs, and with no promotion of the show, there was little expectation of success. However, audiences steadily grew and the series became a hit.[1]

[1] following a suggestion from John Hawkesworth.Upstairs, Downstairs, until just before the production of the first episode when it was changed to 165 Eaton Place. It was called That House in Eaton Square and The Servants' Hall, Two Little Maids in Town The programme took many names, including [1]

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