Top positive review
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A sort of upsatairs downstairs.
on 5 December 2013
I bought the box set without ever having seen one episode and I have been delighted. This is a comic version of upstairs downstairs life where human eccentricities are exploited to the full and the English class system of yesteryear ( still evident today) shown to be more than an aristocratic vice. The episodes are fifty minuets long which I find just right and the plots complicated enough to allow multiple viewing. The characters,above stairs run the gamut of types to be found on the fringes of silly society even today, but perhaps the most notable are Teddy Meldrum, brother of Lord Meldrum the master of the house, a sort of Bertie Wooster who compromises the servant girls and has a fetish for carbolic soap, and Miss Sissy, a gay character with little real power who very much occupies the moral high ground with her concern for the poor. One miscalculation has to be Miss Poppy a very nasty and manipulative creature ( Lord Meldrum's immature and spiteful younger daughter ) I personaly could see no reason for including her. Superfluous, she has obvious behavioural issues and has as a consequence been spoilt. She is neither funny nor interesting and her appearances are a good excuse to make the tea. Below stairs the snobbery continues and a clear demarcation is made between the live in staff and the scullery maid who is not allowed to sit at table with 'her betters'. I think if some of these characterizations were not comic they would be revolting particularly Alf Stokes ( Paul Shane ) a liar and a cheat, who has falsified his way into the position of Butler. The star of below stars has to be Ivy the Parlour Maid, played by Sue Pollard. Right at the bottom of the pile Ivy's simple nature echos the concerns and fundamental goodness of Miss Sissy above stairs.
Many times as I watched these plays I found myself thinking of contemporaries in the world of celebrity and politics today. The vacuous life they lead and the selfish values they espouse, money, cheap night clubs, cars and rampant dishonesty chief amongst them. The close parallel to the world of politics is worrying, particularly the dishonesty of Alf Stokes the Butler. Nothing changes but it was also interesting to reflect that the most virtuous characters are a gay woman and a rather gentle parlour maid. Perhaps this says it all and maybe an old quote might be apposite ' all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely'. Good value for money and a wonderful comment upon human nature.