A truly fascinating insight into the first formative weeks of this groundbreaking and successful series, this tape comprises the rarely-seen early episodes made in black and white due to industrial action in the early 1970s. These show the Bellamy household in an edgy state of flux, with many characters (and even rooms)coming and going. The standout episode is probably the second, with its razor-sharp script by feminist writer Maureen Duffy.These episodes are quite unlike the later ones in many respects.Also included in colour is the original opening episode, with its ending mercifully intact...this is why 'Series 1-The Colour Edition' didn't quite make sense within its own continuity! A must-have.
on 10 February 2007
This is an astonishingly evocative portrayal of life during World War I. The writers and directors interviewed WWI survivors in order to make the episodes as realistic and convincing as possible, and based on accounts I heard from elderly relatives when I was a child it seems that the period has been captured very well indeed. The episode whereby Georgina observes the hospital trains returning from France bearing wounded soldiers is very powerful, as are the scenes in which Christopher Beeny portrays a shell-shocked young soldier so very movingly. Daisy and Hazel suffer stoically at home as their husbands risk their lives abroad, an ageing and patriotic Hudson is desperate to do his bit, as is the simple Ruby, who courageously applies for a role in a munitions factory, despite the danger of being targeted by enemy bombs.
Series Four made me feel rather humble and in me it brought about a new respect for the people who lived through that challenging time. It also taught me a great deal about the history and politics of the period without being tedious or preachy - there are still funny interludes and interesting stories about the personal lives of the characters.
on 3 September 2001
There is a liveliness in this sequence of eight episodes that has been absent from the series since Lady Marjorie Bellamy died on the Titanic in 1912. The bloodbath of the Great War has been over for almost two years as we step through the familiar front door of 165 Eaton Place. Virginia Hamilton, now Viscountess Bellamy, returns from her European honeymoon without the slightest intention of taking on the rôle of mistress of Eaton Place, a position left vacant by the death of James Bellamy's wife, Hazel. Is it she or Richard, accustomed to the 'political wife' of the Edwardian era, who emerges victorious in the battle of the sexes?
The characters of James Bellamy, Georgina Worsley, and the former Lady Diana Russell, bored with marriage to good old Bunny, Marquess of Newbury, illustrate the madcap merriment of the twenties, a time when all's fair in love as it had been in war. The residents of the Servants' Hall, too, seek a freshness, a vitality in their lives and relationships. Even Ruby, still elevenpence ha'penny short of a bob, demands her place in the post-war world, defying the senior staff to find a 'Rudolf Valentino' of her very own! The joie de vivre is always short-lived. That love so often lies bleeding suggests that war has given way to a tug-of-war between past and present, a conflict in which characters old and new, above and below stairs, are inextricably involved.
This is one of the most enjoyable "Upstairs Downstairs" series, inviting the viewer to share the social tension as the old world lies shot to pieces, yet never saying die, as a new order struggles into life.
on 20 October 2002
Upstairs Downstairs is my absolute favourite serie, I've taped them all and believe me it's quite a lot of tape, but I watch it over and over again !!! It takes me to a time I would have loved to live in, life was more relaxed then and so many novelties were about to be discovered! I imagine myself also working downstairs with Rose, Mrs.Bridges, Mr. Hudson and all the others.
Allthough they 'fight' a lot among each other, they form a family of their one..they go through so much together and with the Bellamy Family!!! I can't help myself..I love that series!!
Finally it's appearing on DVD and I can watch it over and over again....super!!!!!!!!!
Frans Berkers - Holland
The fourth series of "Upstairs Downstairs" is considered the best series of all,in this classic period drama of life at 165 Eaton Place where the Bellamy family and their servants life.
The whole fourth series is set between World War One,1914-1918 and in the opening episode "A Patriotic Offering",the Bellamy family taken in a Belgian family,expecting a well off family to arrive,they are appalled when a group of Belgian peasents arrive complete with lice,maid Daisy(Jacqueling Tong") getting hysterical at this,as she thought she'd escaped such horrors when she left her family's slum.
The writing and acting is first rate,Simon Williams as James Bellamy,goes through so many changes,from disullisioned officer in "News from The Front" which ends with him being posted to a boring work office job and its his wife Hazel(Meg Wynn Owen)in "Tug Of War",who manages to get James sent back to his old regiment,her love for him so great,she knows he'd rather die fighting than seeing the war out safely.
Rose(Jean Marsh)is reunited with old love Gregory Wilmot(Keith Barron)in "Home Fires" after a lot of misunderstandings,they agree to marry after the war,only for Rose to get a letter,that Gregory has been killed in "The Glorious Dead" Jean Marsh's grief as Rose is heartbreaking.
Christopher Beeny excels in "Another Year" when Edward returns from the trenches,in deep trauma,he tells Richard Bellamy(David Langton)about the horrific death of his best friend Charlie,truely haunting and moving.
Georgina(Lesley-Anne Down)really grows up in this series when she sees a group of wounded soliders in "Women Shall Not Weep" and becomes a nurse,eventually ending in France,seeing the horrors of the injured young men,British and German and indeed,the missing James turns up in her ward in "Missing Presumed Dead".
Gordon Jackson is always excellent,his prejudice showing in "The Beastly Hun" when a totally inoccent German shopkeeper and his family are attacked by an angry mob,Hudson being so patriotic that he believes all the press write.
Angela Baddley's Mrs Bridges gives a moving account of losing her first love in "The Glorious Dead"as she tries to comfort a distraught Rose.
Hannah Gordon joins the cast in "Another Year" as Virginia Hamilton,as an attractive widow,who befriends Hazel,she later gets help from Richard when her young naval son is charged with being a coward in "Facing Fearful Odds",he is found guilty but just rebukked,he goes back to the navy and is killed.
Hazel catched Spanish flu and dies in "Peace Out Of Pain",a great performance by Meg Wynn Own but there was no where for the character left to go,as the war ends Richard is set to marry Virgnia,Hazel's death is just the start of things to go very wrong for James Bellamy,which all happens in season five.
on 4 September 2000
In these early episodes the show hasn't really hit its stride yet. The portryal of life downstairs may be realistic, but that doesn't make it entertaining -- just depressing. The episodes that revolve around Miss Elizabeth and her radical friends are really, really tiresome. Some of the beloved characters from later series have not yet arrived at 1 eaton place and their presence is missed! Good to have the episodes for context for later shows, but the best is yet to come.
on 4 April 2003
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this series again that I hadn't seen for 20 years, when I last watched it dubbed on German TV. It is interesting to see how dramatic styles have changed in that time - there was more dialogue and a lot more for actors to get their teeth into than there is these days on television drama. The characters are strongly drawn and imaginatively played. Mrs. Bridges a legend in her own lunchtime and Mr. Hudson a staunch Scottish fuddy-duddy. The wayward Elizabeth is also a piece of brilliant casting.
However sometimes I found the picture quality disappointing - there were sudden jumps in the picture and the sound that plainly has nothing to do with our player as other DVD's are fine. What a shame and the only slight niggle I have. Still looking forward to the other DVD's in this series though.
LWT were very brave to devote the whole fourth series to The War, but after watching this I can say that the risk more than paid off. Here we have a view if the war not often seen on TV, as most of the episodes concern those left behind. Not one of the regular characters remains untouched by the terrible events, almost always with heartbreaking consequences.But don't let that put you off; the stories are very moving but not depressing...the writing and performances make sure of that, as do the moments of humour that are never far away. In this and the following volume, the series was at the height of its powers. If you want a drama you can really feel involved by, look no further.
on 16 August 2001
You can't help but feel sorry for the Bellamy household as nothing ever seems to be straightforward for them, and they have certainly had more than their fair share of tragedy over the years. Series 5 (part 1) focusses on the years directly after the end of World War 1, as the household embraces the 1920's. Drama unfolds as Lord Richard Bellamy and his new wife Virginia argue strongly about where to live. James Bellamy is lonely and he asks them to move back into Eaton Place with him. He fears that with just him and Georgina Worsley in the house the staff have too little to do, and he feels he may have to give them all notice and then sell the house. Richard wants to move back in but Virginia does not, especially with her young children to consider. Richard quickly learns that Virginia is certainly a force to be reckoned with! James Bellamy decides to enter politics, but will he find the right constituency to represent? Should he really follow in his Father's footsteps or should he listen to sound advice first? Georgina also decides that a wild party would be fun, but unfortunately tragedy once again envelopes Eaton Place. The new governess meets her match and realises that in the end she will never triumph over the formidable Rose Buck, newly appointed lady's maid to Lady Virginia Bellamy! Mr Hudson also learns a harsh lesson regarding other members of household staff, and it is a bitter pill to swallow, even for him. There is an awful lot of drama, fun and excitement contained in these first eight episodes of the final series of Upstairs Downstairs. Although I am too young to remember it when it originally aired I have found it gripping to watch on these reissued videos. I consider this a first class drama series and would recommend it to anyone!
on 19 March 2003
Upstairs, Downstairs has truly stood the test of time. Not only do the scripts still remain shining examples of dramatic writing (the first episide is by Fay Weldon) but the majority of the performances from the regulars remain brilliantly observed and often very moving, particularly Rachel Gurney as Lady Marjorie and the series' creator Jean Marsh as Rose.
As a DVD though, I was rather disappointed. The picture could have done with being cleaned up, especially on the first two episodes, and it's such a shame that no effort had been made to include any features from the original cast and crew, most of whom are still alive and were reunited for a TV interview last year. I would have thought Marsh in particular would have been interested in something like this. It's to be hoped that further DVD releases take more advantage of what this medium offers.
This frustration notwithstanding, it's an amazing piece of work and worth owning. British drama at it's best - fab!