|Upstairs, Downstairs is back on PBS starting Sunday April 10th|
If you are in withdrawal after Downton Abbey finished this week, fear not! BBC and PBS have combined forces yet again to bring us the continuation of the famous historic soap opera of the 1970s, Upstairs Downstairs.
The story opens in 1936, six years after the Bellamy family moved out of 165 Eaton Place at the end of the original series. Recently inherited by young Sir Hallam Holland (Ed Stoppard, Bridey Flyte from Brideshead Revisited 2008), the house has been long vacant and its considerable needs are taken in hand by Hallam’s vivacious wife, Agnes (Keeley Hawes, Cynthia from Wives and Daughters).
The stellar cast includes the original series creators Dame Eileen Atkins (Miss Deborah Jenkyns from Cranford) and Jean Marsh (Mrs. Ferrars from Sense and Sensibility 2008), with Marsh reprising her Emmy Award-winning role as Rose Buck, now promoted from parlormaid to housekeeper, and Atkins appearing as the aristocratic Lady Maud. Hopefully we can expect some of the brilliant verbal sparring from these ladies that we have so enjoyed with the "Dames of Downton".
Lady Agnes Holland's first order of business is to hire servants, for which she retains Rose (Marsh), the proprietor of a domestic employment agency, although Agnes is unaware of Rose’s previous association with 165. After lining up a butler (Adrian Scarborough from Cranford), a cook (Anne Reid from Bleak House), a housemaid (Ellie Kendrick from The Diary of Anne Frank), and other staff, Rose realizes she may be of no further use to the new family. But of course, she is needed once again...
And so it continues, just as it did thirty-odd years ago, with stories of the upper-class and working-class intertwining in complex and interesting ways against a backdrop of world events—in this case, the abdication crisis of Edward VIII, the growing belligerence of Hitler and Mussolini on the continent, and the rise of the British Union of Fascists under Sir Oswald Mosley.
You know where I will be every Sunday night in April. Will you be joining me, Earl Grey tea in hand?