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Gay Times January 11 - Issue 388

Upstairs Downstairs

There are things you think you’ll never do in your lifetime. For some this could be visiting a far off land or swimming with dolphins. For me it was walking through the door of 165 Eaton Place.

First and foremost because it was the fictional residence of the Bellamy family (and their servants) in the television period drama Upstairs Downstairs. Secondly because the show ended its five series, 68 episode run in 1975.
But now, nearly 35 years to the day since it ended, it’s back. And it’s moved from ITV to BBC One. THAT’S how posh Upstairs Downstairs is.
And if it’s produced by Aunty Beeb that pretty much always means it’s time for GT to get on the train to Cardiff again, which is how I find myself gingerly stepping through the freshly painted door of the most famous townhouse in London’s Belgravia. I won’t deny I let out a squeal, much to Andrew, the PR’s amusement.
The sets for upstairs and downstairs are so vast that they’re housed in two massive soundstages at either side of Wales’ capital. That’s a heck of a journey to carry a tray of sandwiches.
The original version, originally conceived by actresses Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, was set between 1903 and 1930 and won Baftas, Emmys and Golden Globes. It even spawned a spin-off series.
These three new hour long episodes move time along six years to 1936 where Jean reprises her role as maid Rose Buck, returning to serve a new family.
And it seems Rose herself is as excited as I am to be walking up that grand staircase (which has the carpet covered in plastic, fact fans).
“I can’t quite believe it still. It’s been up in the air for some time, because it’s such a long time ago, all the legalities… I was never quite sure if it really would happen. The fact that they wanted me to still play Rose was quite daunting. Then it was all systems go and I zoomed down to Cardiff to do it. I couldn’t really believe it until I walked onto the set in the kitchen. I thought ‘well it’s exactly the same, I’m in the kitchen where I belong!’”

Photo: BBC

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