THE beloved ITV series Upstairs Downstairs has been revived, with a mix of old and new characters returning to 165 Eaton Place.
The sweeping British drama, covering the years from 1903 to 1930, followed the vastly different but connected lives of the Bellamy family and their servants in an Edwardian townhouse in London.
Fast forward to 1936 and Sir Hallam Holland (Ed Stoppard) has inherited the townhouse and takes up residence after returning from diplomatic service in the US.
Jean Marsh reprises her role as maid Rose Buck, who returns to Eaton Place as a housekeeper.
Dame Eileen Atkins, who created the series with Marsh, appears in Upstairs Downstairs for the first time as Lady Maud Holland.
Despite their frosty on-screen relationship as estranged mother and son, Stoppard said it was an honour to work with Atkins, a veteran of the stage, film and television.
“She's an actor's actor and she's very, very loyal and really tenacious,'' Stoppard said.
“But I think the thing I admire most about her, and the thing that made acting so enjoyable with her, was that the work is absolutely paramount. It's all about the work. She's interested in every single element of the filmmaking process and of the acting process, and if she feels that she is being thwarted in any way from giving the best performance she can give then she'll stand up and say it. She was frankly something of an inspiration. Part of me can sort of die happy having worked with Eileen.”
Using lavish sets and costumes, the new BBC series looks at the major events of pre-WWII England through the eyes of the characters.
“There are different levels on which the show works,” Stoppard said.
“There's the very kind of nuclear domestic situation within the four walls of the house, and then outside the house – principally through my character who works at the Foreign Office – you feel those larger global issues having an influence, not just on the world or London but on the people in the house as well.
“It's a nice kind of telescoping of events and attitudes and how those affect society.''
The BBC has commissioned another six, one-hour episodes, which the cast and crew will begin shooting in October.
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