Upstairs Downstairs

The Great Upstairs Downstairs Series 1 Rewatch: “The Fledgling”

I know, I know I said that the Great Doctor Who Rewatch was next up – and it IS coming, I *promise* – but I would also like to write about Upstairs Downstairs Series 2 once that’s under way next weekend, and to be honest I feel like I’ve forgotten a lot about Series 1. So, you know, best of both worlds, I guess? And maybe having another Edwardian drama to chat about will help us all take our minds off missing Downton Abbey, to boot!

The BBC’s reboot of classic drama Upstairs Downstairs first premiered in 2010 and, despite its famous pedigree, never seemed to quite escape the shadow of another Edwardian costume drama that would go on to worldwide acclaim called Downton Abbey. Whether it was timing, general preference or a combination of the two, Upstairs never seemed to quite catch on the way that the ITV drama did. It was, of course, hampered by the fact that the first series was only comprised of three episodes, and seemed to come to a close just as things finally started getting good. With the six-episode second series set to premiere on Masterpiece Classic starting October 7, now seems as good a time as any to revisit all the drama from Series 1, and give ourselves a little reminder about everything that happened the first time 'round.

Click through for a rewatch of the first episode, “The Fledgling,” and come chat about it with me in the comments. How did you enjoy Upstairs, Downstairs as a series, especially as compared to Downton Abbey? Are you looking forward to Series 2?

“Upstairs Downstairs” Remake Won’t Get a Third Series

The BBC has decided to close the doors at 165 Eaton Place for good, as it’s been officially announced that Upstairs Downstairs will not return for a third series. The period drama, which aired the final episode of its second series in the UK last month, struggled with low ratings and behind-the scenes setbacks.

Unfortunately, despite the popularity of the original Upstairs Downstairs series, the new residents of Eaton Place never really made it out of the shadow of ITV ratings behemoth Downton Abbey, which more than doubled the BBC drama’s numbers. The shows aired close to one another and their similar settings and lovely Edwardian dress made it nearly impossible for viewers (and critics) to avoid comparing the two. In fact, the British press seemed to have something of a field day comparing the series’ ratings – in the UK, the two air on different networks. Audience numbers for Upstairs Downstairs declined steadily during its six week run, despite the addition of Doctor Who star Alex Kingston to the cast and several attempts to spice up the plot with more “controversial” storylines.

Upstairs Downstairs’ first series – though only three episodes long – was generally deemed a success. But then Dame Eileen Atkins quit the series last summer, citing her dissatisfaction with the scripts, and co-creator Jean Marsh suffered a stroke that forced her to scale back her involvement in the production. It could be argued that the series likely never recovered its footing after these events and may have lost its way a bit.

It’s a shame – while if I had to choose a side in the Period Drama Wars, I would have to say that I generally preferred the Crawleys, but I would also argue that Upstairs Downstairs had quite a lot to recommend it, including more balanced pacing. It’s unfortunate that apparently there can only be one left standing in this costume drama fight to the death, because I would have happily continued to make room for them both on my viewing schedule.

Americans will still get the chance to see Upstairs Downstairs Series 2 for themselves; its final set of six episodes is slated to premiere on Masterpiece this Fall.

First Clip From Upstairs Downstairs Series 2 Features Alex Kingston!

The BBC has released the first official clip from Upstairs Downstairs Series 2! The thing most people will be excited about – I certainly am – is that this scene gives us our first look at Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston in action.

The clip features a few very mild spoilers – but nothing that feels too major. In this scene, Lady Agnes (Keeley Hawes) returns to 165 Eaton Place with her new baby and is greeted by Sir Hallam's Aunt, Dr. Blanche Mottershead (Kingston). Click through and take a peek for yourselves!

Upstairs Downstairs Update: New Cast Members and Series 2 Cast Photo!

Hurrah, we’re finally starting to get more concrete information about Series 2 of Upstairs Downstairs!

Stars Emilia Fox and Sarah Lancashire have both signed on to appear in the new season. Details about their characters are slim, though executive producer Faith Penhale has confirmed that Fox will play a character called Portia who “makes a connection with” Alex Kingston’s Blanche, and that Lancashire’s character, named Violet, will be involved with butler Mr. Pritchard (played by Adrian Scarborough).

Fox is best known for her work on crime drama Silent Witness and, most recently, as evil sorceress Morgause in Merlin. And most of you will probably recognize Lancashire from her role on Lark Rise to Candleford. These ladies join several other new Series 2 cast members, including Doctor Who’s Kingston, Hotel Babylon’s Michael Landes and Made in Dagenham’s Kenneth Cranham.

In more good news, according to the Guardian, writer Heidi Thomas said that the second series will also feature Jean Marsh’s beloved Rose Buck, even though the actress’ ill health in the Fall looked like it would keep her out of the show.

And if that’s not enough, the BBC has released an official group shot for Series 2, gives us our second official look at Kingston’s Blanche, along with a couple of simply stunning dresses. Click through to take a look for yourselves!

First Look at Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston in Upstairs Downstairs Series 2

The BBC has released its first image from the upcoming series of Upstairs Downstairs. The new photo features our first look at Doctor Who star Alex Kingston, who is joining the cast for Series 2, alongside Keeley Hawes.

Kingston will play Blanche Mottershead, the younger sister of Dame Eileen Atkins’ Lady Maud Holland. Atkins decided not to take part in the second season of Upstairs Downstairs last year.

Click through for a look for yourself!

Friday News Roundup Time!

TGIF! And Happy (almost) Halloween!

It’s time for another Friday Roundup of everything we thought was worth reading in British entertainment news this week. Click right on through for bits and bobs on Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Skins, Upstairs Downstairs and more!

Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston Joins Cast of Upstairs Downstairs

Sure, we don't exactly know what's going to happen to River Song in the Doctor Who finale tomorrow night, but at least we know what's next for her portrayer. Alex Kingston is set to join the cast of Upstairs Downstairs when the costume drama returns next year.  [I'll pause while everyone takes a second to appreciate how awesome that particular bit of casting is. I maybe made a noise out loud, but of course it doesn't count if no one is around you to hear it.]

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