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Be Sure to Watch! Masterpiece Classic: Upstairs Downstairs

Posted on 25 Mar 2011

It’s 1936 and, sweeping away the cobwebs from the most famous address in MASTERPIECE history, a new couple moves into 165 Eaton Place. Thus resumes the romantic, moving, and epic story of Upstairs Downstairs, more than three decades after its last episode on PBS. Lavishly produced, beautifully acted, and eagerly awaited by millions of fans, Upstairs Downstairs is one of the jewels in the crown of MASTERPIECE’s 40th season. Upstairs Downstairs airs in three one-hour episodes on MASTERPIECE Classic, Sundays, April 10, 17, and 24, 2011 at 9 p.m.

“I’m so happy that we can offer our MASTERPIECE viewers this 40th anniversary gift of Upstairs Downstairs,” says executive producer Rebecca Eaton. “This 2011 version is charming, romantic, touching, and fresh. I think it will entrance a whole new audience.”

The stellar cast includes the original series creators Dame Eileen Atkins (Cranford, Murder on the Orient Express) and Jean Marsh (Sense and Sensibility, Willow), 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.

With a script by acclaimed screenwriter Heidi Thomas (Cranford), the sequel also stars Keeley Hawes (Wives and Daughters), Ed Stoppard (Brideshead Revisited), Anne Reid (Bleak House), Claire Foy (Little Dorrit), Adrian Scarborough (Cranford), Art Malik (The Jewel in the Crown), and Ellie Kendrick (The Diary of Anne Frank).

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 (Stoppard), the house has been long vacant and its considerable needs are taken in hand by Hallam’s vivacious wife, Agnes (Hawes).

Her 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 (Scarborough), a cook (Reid), a housemaid(Kendrick), and other staff, Rose realizes she may be of no further use to the new family. Our story begins…

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.

Amid the triumphs, disasters, joys, and tears, it’s just like old times at 165 Eaton Place.

Upstairs Downstairs airs in three one-hour episodes on MASTERPIECE Classic, Sundays, April 10, 17, and 24, 2011 at 9 p.m.

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