Rachel Gurney loathed her character (Lady Marjorie) and was written out of the series at her own request. This was achieved by having her make a journey to Canada on the ill-fated maiden voyage of Titanic.
The title music, "The Edwardians", was specially composed for the series by Alexander Faris. Two different themes were used: a slower waltz-time theme, normally over the opening titles, and a faster jaunty polka theme over some of the end-credits, though the waltz theme was used for the end-credits of episodes that ended on a sombre note such as the news about the sinking of the Titanic. The polka theme was set to lyrics by Alfred Shaughnessy and sung as a bawdy song "What are we going to do with Uncle Arthur?" during a music hall act by Sarah (Pauline Collins) in the episode Upstairs, Downstairs: For Love of Love (1972).
By season 3, 165 Eaton Place consisted of: 6 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, dressing room, dining room, drawing room, morning room, library, study, and another room which changed from gaming room to whatever the family needed.
A LWT executive viewing the first season for the first time thought the show was a complete disaster and had no hope in the ratings. Consequently it was left on the shelf for several months and finally got its first ever screening after 10pm on a Sunday night in the UK.
Gordon Jackson (Hudson) appeared in 60 of the series' 68 episodes, more than any other actor. In second place is David Langton (Richard Bellamy), who appeared in a total of 56 episodes. The only other actors to appear in 50 or more episodes were Jean Marsh (Rose Buck) and Angela Baddeley (Mrs Bridges), who appeared in 54 and 52 episodes respectively.
Angela Baddeley (Mrs Bridges) went to Buckingham Palace to receive the C.B.E. (Commander of The British Empire) awarded to her in the Queen's 1975 New Year's Honour's List, she discovered that Upstairs, Downstairs was Queen Elizabeth's favorite television program and Mrs Bridge's was her favorite character.
In 1973 whilst on his way to a rehearsal, Christopher Beeny ( Edward the footman) was involved in a road traffic accident and quite badly hurt. Although he recovered, he remained in significant physical pain for the remainder of the series, which he kept secret from most of the cast.
The plot called for a scene at Charing Cross Station, circa 1914, to show wounded troops returning from the front lines, the crew found ingenious solutions. Marylebone Station substituted for Charing Cross, which was too modern. The modern signs and posters were taken down or covered up with replicas of 1914-1918 posters we bought at the Imperial War Museum. An old newspaper and confectionery kiosk were built and dummy gas-lamps installed. A plywood engine was stuck on the front of the first carriage, while a modern diesel engine did the pushing from behind, well out of camera range. Apparently one lady who was visiting the set fainted when she saw all the bloody corpses.
Although the series spans nearly three decades, it's characters never age. The producer, Johnny Hawkesworth, believed that the addition of rubber wrinkles and grey wigs would only get in the way of the stories.
For each episode the cast had eight days rehearsal outside the studio-in drafty halls, club gyms and even a rat-infested army barracks on King's Road, Chelsea. This was followed by two days in studio, one for setting up and fussing with their costumes and wigs and one for taping. Some of the more scholarly members enjoyed reading vintage copies of the London Times chosen to coincide with the date of the script.
Karen Dotrice who was an accomplished child actress and longtime fan of the show, was offered the chance to play either an upstairs or downstairs character. She chose downstairs, because she thought "they had more fun." Her character of Lily became the most controversial of her career.
The show was amongst the first major British television dramas to shoot ( where practicable)location scenes on videotape rather than on 16mm film, as was the required convention in British tv at the time. This, however was not necessarily as straightforward as it might seem, as it involved taking a large outside broadcast unit to the location and the early portable video cameras and lenses were variable in picture quality, to say the least. It did however allow a consistency of image throughout the whole episode, rather than the sometimes jarring effect of jumping to the very different look and feel of 16mm film for certain scenes.
Esquire magazine ran an article, using notes from London Weekend Televison's gastronomic advisory team, on an authentic Edwardian meal. They made and photographed the meal. It consisted of: Raw Oysters dolloped with mimosa sauce Iced Caviar dribbled with lemon juice A Sauced Turbot poached in Chablis surrounded by shrimp mussels quenelles of whiting, baby lobsters and fleurons of flaky pastry partridge pie an antremets of soothing fruit sherbet Baron of Beef French salad English Cheese and artichokes grand duc.