Saturday, 1 January 2011
As a life long fan of the original series I have so been looking forward to the new "Upstairs, Downstairs" episodes with great expectations, and I have to say I have not been disappointed.
I was originally worried that this was going to be a remake, rehashing the tales of the Bellamy family and their loyal staff, which could only have been a disappointment; and so as soon as I hear this three parter was set in 1936, six years after the Bellamy's shut the door on the house that had held such joy and pain, I was thrilled. A new family too, with their own dark secrets I hoped.
Still, I had high expections, having only recently embarked on an "Upstairs, Downstairs" marathon by watching all the original five series in order, I was worried I would all too easily pick apart the new episodes. Luckily however the quality was high and the attention to detail even better than the original, especially in regard to costumes and decor.
In the original series the costumes were frequently fabulous but it amused me when you could see the seventies influence in choice of fabrics if not in style of costume. I think period drama has moved on considerably in accuracy since then and the 30's suits and gowns shown looked perfect to my eyes. I admit though that the 30's are an era I am only just delving into so if you spotted any glaring costume errors please let me know, I love that sort of thing.
Particular costume delights were a red silk dress worn by Lady Percy, showing harshly and symbolically against the grey stone as she climbed the stairs to attend a meeting of fascists and a stunningly period suit worn by Lady Agnes as well as a dramatic striped number worn by "Wallis Simpson" - this blog has some lovely shots which I shall not steal and post here out of a sense of decency but please pop over and take a gander.
I also adored Eileen Atkins' bohemian patterned velvets, so like my dear friend Naomi's luscious silk velvet number inherited from her grandmothers collection.
165 Eaton Place looks as gorgeous as ever (it isn't actually the same house - originally number 65 with the number 1 painted on - but one with identical architecture), it's staid Edwardian grandeur replaced by 30's decadence in dark colours and rich patterns.
It was wonderful to see dear Rose again, returning as Housekeeper, though her aging over the 6 years was glaring as the original series didn't bother with falsely making up the characters to show the passing of years.
The storylines were similar, with lust breaching the class barrier and a heavy dose of political scandal. All in all this felt like slipping into a warm bed at the end of a hard day. Delicious and lush.
I am thrilled to see that, at least according to IMDB, more episodes are planned for 2012.
I simply cannot wait.