Sunday, December 26, 2010
UPSTAIRS OR DOWNSTAIRS
Have just spent the last hour thoroughly enjoying the revamped BBC version of Upstairs Downstairs. I was too young to have watched the first episode but it was a TV show that I remember my parents and Nana talk about being a great show with Gordon Jackson and really was one of those shows that was revered and spoken about for 35 years til the remake.
Now there has been some rivalry as ITV has been playing Downton Abbey with Maggie Smith at the helm and it has garnered rave reviews and massive ratings in the UK. The BBC have been cautious by running this as a 3 parter over 3 nights. Now I received Downton Abbey on dvd as a Xmas present and will be lapping that up but to avoid comparisons, haven't watched so I can enjoy Upstairs Downstairs and I must say - when the British decide to, nobody can beat them with high class and excellently acted drama peppered with comedy.
The whole hour set the scene so well with Jean Marsh (the original creator) revisiting the role of Rose Buck who becomes housekeeper of 165 Eaton Place. You can see that money has been spent on this production and it's all on screen. The set design is beyond superb, attention to detail is terrific and every scene peels back the layers of both Upstairs and Downstairs. Upstairs is affected by national events, the King has just died in 1935 at the start of the show - there's even a cameo by Wallis Simpson! The real meat and potatoes drama seems to be downstairs with drunk teenage footmen and a butler with a past.
Dame Eileen Atkins plays the Dowager with a monkey as a pet and I must say, she is superb. She created the show with Jean Marsh and seeing them together in a scene was more than magical. Glamorous, educational and brilliantly acted - the best hour of drama TV I've seen in a while - and probably will until I watch some Downton Abbey!