Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Upstairs, Downstairs

PBS To Air New
Upstairs, Downstairs

One of the most anticipated treats on the BBC’s holiday broadcast schedule is the return of Upstairs Downstairs, the Edwardian era miniseries that ran and ran on Masterpiece Theatre. The new three-parter—which premieres in the U.S. in April on MASTERPIECE on PBS—takes up the story in 1936, a bumpy year in British history. Parlormaid Rose finds herself back at 165 Eaton Place serving as housekeeper to its new owners: Sir Hallam Holland (Ed Stoppard—yes Tom Stoppard’s son) and his wife Lady Agnes (Keeley Hawes, MI-5, Wives & Daughters). Reprising her role as Rose is co-creator Jean Marsh (Sense & Sensibility), who won an Emmy for her work in the original series. This time around series co-creator Dame Eileen Atkins (Cranford, Gosford Park) also has an onscreen part to play: as Hallam’s formidable mother, Maud. Per Radio Times, even Wallis Simpson will swan through the action. Fingers crossed that BBC will commission more. Look for the DVD next spring. We’d tell you to bone up on the original with a reasonably priced purchase from the Shop, but the original Upstairs Downstairs DVD set has been off the market since August. (Never fear, it’s coming back–we just can’t say when yet.) Finally we’re working with AudioGo, our BBC audiobooks business, to bring you a real tie-in treat—a five disc audiobook of Jean Marsh (Rose) reading the John Hawkesworth Upstairs Downstairs novel.