It's August 1904 and with the the Bellamys away, the servants have the house to themselves. Hudson and Mrs Bridges are also absent and soon the rest, along with a few friends, begin drinking and partying. Rather than restrict themselves to below stairs, the party soon moves to the morning room and Sarah dons one of Lady Marjorie's evening gowns. They are all shocked however when the Bellamys eldest son James, a Lieutenant in the Life Guards, arrives unexpectedly. Rather than chuck them out or call the police, which is what most of them expect him to do, he embarrasses them further by playing along with their little game and serving them champagne until they are all quite drunk. Sarah however is as defiant as ever, standing up to him and managing to extract a promise from him not to tell his parents what has happened. She also makes a momentous decision about her own future. Written by
Sarah (Pauline Collins) invents the name Lady Alderton for Rose when they are playing charades. This is an in-joke as Alderton is the name of Collins's actor-husband. John Alderton was to appear in the second series of Upstairs Downstairs. See more »
Sarah turns on the prop gas/oil lamps on the hall by turning a spindle until the lamp reaches the right brightness, but does so without lighting them with a match first. It is clear anyway that the real light source is a standard light bulb. See more »
You've got some very odd ideas about men, Rose.
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This episode introduces the son of the house, James Bellamy. He's just twenty-two years old and proves himself quite immature and petty when he plays a game with the servants in order to avenge himself for being stood up by a girl.
He comes home alone to find the servants (who are on 'Board Wages' whilst the main household are away) having a party all over the house - particularly in the Morning Room where the family tend to live for most of the time. Instead of showing his authority, he goes along with their 'play', but takes things too far and ends up embarrassing, both himself, and the servants. The shame of this affects Sarah deeply, already feeling dissatisfied with her lot in life, this only serves to emphasise the lack of self-worth at being a servant. On the verge of something happening between she and James; this causes her to leave Eaton Place for the first time, to the heartbreak of Rose, who's come to depend upon her emotionally.
This is a very good episode that makes great effort to show just how 'close' maids who lived, worked and indeed slept together, not exactly became lesbians (though I should imagine that these types of circumstances helped nurture those tendencies wherever they lay dormant) but developed an innocent and pure love that was built on need and survival, in really what was a life with a pretty sure 'dead end'.
Sarah returns later in the series.
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