Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

TV Timewarp

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

TV Timewarp

Article excerpt

Byline: By Graham Pratt

Programme of the Week: @Upstairs, Downstairs. First episode transmitted: @October 10, 1971. Last episode transmitted: @December 21, 1975.

The lives and loves of the residents of 165 Eaton Place gripped the nation and became the biggest-selling TV programme for London Weekend Television, proving extremely popular in the States.

It was the brainchild of actresses Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, who developed the idea from the BBC's 1960s smash The Forsyte Saga. The pair were surprised so little attention had been paid to the goings-on below stairs.

However, the original idea was to create a comedy, first called Below Stairs, which changed to Behind the Green Baize Door, but chiefs at LWT decided chronicling the Bellamy family and their servants would be best interpreted as a drama.

Then a change in the bosses at LWT almost resulted in Upstairs, Downstairs not being produced at all until it was realised how much money had already been invested. Still dogged by problems, the first six episodes of the initial 13-week run were filmed in black and white because of a technicians' strike.

There was a cracking cast to ensure that when the programme eventually hit the screens it would be a sure-fire hit. Gordon Jackson played Scottish butler Hudson while Jean Marsh, ensuring work for herself on the back of her original idea, played housemaid Rose. Eileen Atkins, however, was tied up in a West End production so the part of housemaid Sarah went to ex-Liver Bird Pauline Collins. The Upstairs cast were headed by Simon Williams and Nicola Pagett.

Set early in the 20th Century, it covered many historical events of the time from the Suffragette movement to the sinking of the Titanic, in which two major characters died, and the First World War. The show finished after six series with the after-effects of the Wall Street Crash in 1929.

It spawned a one-series spin-off following the subsequent lives of servants Thomas and Sarah, played by real-life husband and wife team John Alderton and Pauline Collins. …

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