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The series follows the lives of both the family and the servants in the London townhouse at 165 Eaton Place. Richard Bellamy, the head of the household, is a member of Parliament, and his wife a member of the titled aristocracy. Belowstairs, Hudson, the Scottish butler directs and guides the other servants about their tasks and (sometimes) their proper place. Real-life events from 1903-1930 are incorporated into the stories of the Bellamy household. Written by
Set from pre-World War I to the late 1920s, this series ran for five years and was a cornerstone of ITV drama in the UK.
Co-created by Jean Marsh and debuting in good old black and white, before moving into colour, 'Upstairs, Downstairs' remains the best (and the soapiest) drama of above and below stairs.
Too many people in the cast to mention, but kudos should go to David Langton, who played Richard Bellamy throughout, to the two Lady Bellamys, Rachel Gurney and Hannah Gordon, to Simon Williams and Nicola Pagett as James and Elizabeth, and Lesley Anne Down as Georgina.
Below stairs there were three key characters - Gordon Jackson as Hudson the butler, Angela Baddeley as Mrs Bridges the cook (a character so famous she had her own range of biscuits and preserves for many years), and Jean Marsh as Rose, the house-parlourmaid. I also remember Karen Dotrice as Lily, Jacqueline Tong as Daisy, John Alderton and Pauline Collins as Thomas and Sarah (who got their own spin-off series), and Christopher Beeny as Edward.
Full of drama - the Titanic disaster, debt collectors, intrigue and affairs, and of course the obligatory conflict between ranks, this series had it all. It enjoyed several repeat runs on TV and now has a new life on DVD, well-deserved.
Highly recommended if you've never seen it; if you have you don't need convincing.
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