Set in 1936, Upstairs Downstairs follows the antics in the sumptuous home of the Hallam family. Set against a backdrop of the path to World War II, the programme then explores the differing lines of the rich family upstairs, and the servants who work below. And this provides a platform for all sorts of scandal and secrets, which keep the drama bubbling along nicely.
The new cast clearly have a ball with the material. Among the residents in this new version of show are Keeley Hawes, Anne Reid and Claire Foy. Plus there’s the added bonus of the return of the wonderful Jean Marsh, one of the brains and stars behind the original run.
The shift in time from the original Upstairs Downstairs, meanwhile, is of great benefit to this show, and it moves it along from being a straight remake. Instead, the new Upstairs Downstairs more than holds it own, and while it’s inevitably in a head-to-head fight with ITV’s Downton Abbey, there’s more than enough here to ensure the show is worthwhile in its own right. More, please. --Jon Foster
1936. The house at 165 Eaton Place has stood empty since the Bellamy family sold it six years earlier. Now the doors are finally flung open by new owners, diplomat Sir Hallam, his wife Lady Agnes, and, back from the Raj, Maud, Lady Holland, his mother. With the arrival of Agnes’s debutante sister, Lady Persie, the sumptuous home is ready to come to life.
And who better than Rose, the house’s former parlourmaid, to recruit the new staff? The new 'downstairs' family is as full of characters as its previous incarnation with the highly strung butler Mr Pritchard, cook Mrs Thackeray, chauffeur Harry Spargo and a vivacious and spirited young team.
Soon both the elegant upstairs world and the downstairs staff have built their own labyrinth of secrets, lies and scandal, and as they feel the tremors of royal and political upheaval and the ominous threat of war, the house reverberates to the familiar sounds of rumour, excitement and dread…