Upstairs, Downstairs

Infobox television
show_name = Upstairs, Downstairs
bgcolour = lightgreen

caption = Logo for "Upstairs, Downstairs"
genre = Drama
runtime = 50 minutes
creator = Jean Marsh
Eileen Atkins
starring = Gordon Jackson
David Langton
Jean Marsh
Angela Baddeley
Christopher Beeny
Jenny Tomasin
Simon Williams
Jacqueline Tong
Pauline Collins
Lesley-Anne Down
Rachel Gurney
Meg Wynn Owen
John Alderton
Nicola Pagett
Hannah Gordon
country = UK
network = ITV
first_aired = 10 October 1971
last_aired = 21 December 1975
num_episodes = 68
list_episodes = List of Upstairs, Downstairs episodes
producer = LWT
imdb_id = 0066722

"Upstairs, Downstairs" is a BAFTA and Emmy award-winning British drama set in a large townhouse in Edwardian London that depicted the lives of the servants "downstairs" and their masters "upstairs". It ran on ITV for five series from 1971 to 1975.

"Upstairs, Downstairs" attempted to portray life in a high-status house set against the events of early 20th century. Great events are featured prominently in the episodes but minor or gradual changes are noted as well. It stands as a document of the social and technological changes that occurred between 1903 and 1930. The lives of the servants are integral to the story.

In one episode Hazel Bellamy notes that although upstairs, they are a family, downstairs they are also a family; Mr. Hudson and Mrs. Bridges are the mother and father, Rose, the eldest daughter who lost her man at the front, Edward, the son who has married Daisy who stays with the family while he is at war and Ruby, the youngest child who needs protecting.


"Upstairs, Downstairs" was originally an idea by two actress friends, Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, for a comedy called "Behind the Green Baize Door". It was to focus on two housemaids, played by Marsh and Atkins, in a large country house in the Victorian era. They soon added a family upstairs, as Marsh recognised "Servants have to serve somebody".cite news|url=||first=Steve|last=Phillips|publisher=Steve Phillips|date=1997-2006] In summer 1969, they took this idea to Sagitta Productions, which was run by John Hawkesworth and John Whitney. They soon removed the comedy element, changed the setting to a large townhouse in Edwardian London and the title became "Below Stairs". It was first offered to Granada Television in Manchester, but they declined as they already had a period drama, called "A Family at War", about to start. However, Stella Richman, the Controller of Programmes at London Weekend Television, saw potential and in April 1970 the first series was commissioned.

Characters were then developed, but when Alfred Shaughnessy, an old friend of John Hawkesworth, was called in as script editor, he changed much of the detail to make the characters more realistic. Honor Blackman was originally short-listed for the role of Lady Marjorie and George Cole to play Hudson. Eileen Atkins, who was to play the other maid opposite Jean Marsh, was playing Queen Victoria in a stage show at the time, so Pauline Collins took the role, and Gordon Jackson was offered the role of Hudson after it was decided that Londoner George Cole would not be suitable to play a Scotsman. The programme took many names, including "Two Little Maids in Town", "The Servants' Hall" and "That House in Eaton Square". It was called "165 Eaton Place" until just before the production of the first episode when it was changed to "Upstairs, Downstairs" following a suggestion from John Hawkesworth.

Despite having a champion in Stella Richman the show suffered from internal politics at the station, most notably from the sales department who could not see the attraction of a period drama, and spent nearly a year on the shelf awaiting a transmission date. Eventually the network had a space in its schedule at the unfashionable time of Sunday nights at 10.15pm and called upon LWT to fill it. They chose "Upstairs, Downstairs" and with no promotion of the show there was little expectation of success. However, audiences steadily grew and the series became a hit.

Cast Upstairs (in alphabetical order)

Cast Downstairs (in alphabetical order)


The stories depict the lives of the wealthy Bellamy family ("upstairs"), who reside at 165 Eaton Place in London's fashionable Belgravia, and their servants ("downstairs").

The household is led by Lady Marjorie Bellamy ("nee" Talbot-Carey), the beautiful and willful daughter of the Earl and Countess of Southwold, and her husband Richard Bellamy MP, the upright younger son of a country parson. They married, despite the objections of her parents, and set up housekeeping at 165 Eaton Place, one of several London properties owned by Lord Southwold. Richard is a politician and several plots centre around his political ambitions and conflicts arising from his desire to follow his conscience and his allegiance to his father-in-law's political party, the Conservatives (the "Tories").

Richard and Lady Marjorie Bellamy have two children, James and the rebellious Elizabeth ("Miss Lizzy"), who are in their early twenties and late teens, respectively, when the series starts in 1903. In 1912 James's ill-fated wife Hazel becomes the new mistress of the house, and the following year Richard's ward Georgina comes to live at 165 Eaton Place.

The original servant staff comprises the authoritarian butler Mr. Angus Hudson, the cook Mrs. Kate Bridges, the pragmatic head house parlourmaid Rose, the sweet and simple Irish kitchen maid Emily, the eccentric footman Alfred, the shallow mischievous under house parlourmaid Sarah, and the coachman Pearce. It also includes Lady Marjorie's lady's maid Maude Roberts. Over the years they are joined by Edward the cheeky footman, later chauffeur, Daisy, the parlourmaid, who eventually marries Edward, Thomas Watkins, the devious chauffeur who dabbles with Sarah's affections, and most memorably of all Ruby, the slow-witted kitchen maid who became the bane of Mrs Bridges' life below stairs.


The first and second series span the period 1903 to 1910, during the reign of Edward VII. In 1903, Sarah Moffat applies for a job as parlour maid for the Bellamy family, pretending to be of French nobility but is soon revealed to be illiterate and with no work history. Later in the year, Lady Marjorie poses for Bohemian artist Mr. Scone, who simultaneously paints a nude portrait of Sarah and (an imagined) Rose; he exhibits both pictures at the Royal Academy, causing a scandal. Later the Bellamys go on vacation to Scotland, and, with Mr. Hudson gone, the servants carouse drunkenly through the house only to be caught by son James, who promises not to disclose the servants' misbehavior. James and Sarah later have an affair. This results in Sarah's pregnancy (stillborn son, born on the evening the King comes to Eaton Place) and James' banishment to India, and Sarah is sent to live at the Southwold estate. James eventually returns from India on his mother's birthday in May 1910, and brings with him his brash and gushing fiancee, Phyllis, the daughter of an army vet. James eventually breaks off the engagement, however, after deciding that Phyllis wasn't right for him.

Around 1905, daughter Elizabeth returns from Germany and is preened to be presented to the King and the Queen Consort at a social event, but her rebellious, headstrong nature forces her to flee the event. She has a talk with servant Rose, who teaches her the interdependency of everyone in the household. Elizabeth is soon enchanted with German Baron Klaus von Rimmer, who turns out to be using her father to negotiate a lucrative military deal. He and footman Alfred flee to Germany after they are caught by Rose while having sexual relations. Alfred is replaced by Edward Barnes, a young and niaive footman whose fun-loving and immature nature initially annoy Mr Hudson. The new under house parlour maid Mary Stokes is raped and made pregnant by Myles Radford, whose father is a powerful politician. Richard Bellamy attempts to help her but the Radfords refuse to take responsibility and the legal system proves ineffective. Richard is eventually able to force the young man to take responsibility for the child.

In the summer of 1906, Lady Marjorie is enchanted by her son's friend Captain Charles Hammond, and has an affair with him. Her conscience gets the better of her and she breaks off the affair. However, a couple of years later, after Hammond's death in India, his former batman attempts to blackmail Lady Marjorie with some letters that have come into his possession written by Lady Marjorie and Captain Hammond at the time of their affair. It is only through the deviousness of the Bellamy's chauffeur, Thomas Watkins, and Sarah, now working for the family as a nursery maid, that the letters are returned to Lady Marjorie and a scandal averted.

The following year, 1907, a family friend, Mrs. Van Groeben, arrives from South Africa and her footman, William, captures the interest of scullery maid Emily. The affair is not tolerated by William's mistress, and Emily hangs herself. Mrs. Bridges, distraught over Emily's death, steals a baby from its pram outside a shop and hides it in her room. The baby is returned to its parents by Richard and Lady Marjorie, and Mrs Bridges only escapes a jail sentence after Hudson agrees to marry her, once they are no longer in service. Emily is later replaced by Ruby, a hardworking young woman, though rather slow, who constantly irritates Mrs. Bridges.

In 1908, the daughter Elizabeth marries a young poet, Lawrence Kirbridge, but he finds sexual intercourse disgusting and their marriage is unconsummated. Elizabeth has an affair with her husband's publisher and becomes pregnant, later giving birth to a daughter, Lucy Elizabeth. She joins a group of militant suffragettes and attacks the home of a prominent politician, which inadvertently results in Rose being sent to prison. She later becomes involved with a wealthy Armenian gentleman called Julius Karekin, who buys her a hat shop. But Karekin is more interested in buying his way into British society than he is in Elizabeth's affections. He buys the lease of 165 Eaton Place after the Bellamys are forced to sell in the aftermath of Lady Marjorie's father's death in 1909. He offers the lease to Elizabeth who then gives it to her parents. Richard and Lady Marjorie are in Krekin's debt. Elizabeth eventually moves to the America in 1910 after her split from Karekin and divorce from Kirbridge. She is later said to have married a man named Dana. Sarah and Thomas Watkins, who had previously been employed as the valet of Lawrence Kirbridge, fall in love; however, while in the Upstairs, Downstairs episode "A Family Gathering" it is stated that Thomas and Sarah were married, that fact is disregarded in the spin-off series "Thomas & Sarah". []


Lady Marjorie (and her brother Hugo Talbot-Carey, Earl of Southwold and his wife), die in the sinking of the RMS "Titanic", her last known words being uttered to her maid – "Keep this for me, Roberts" – as she hands over her jewellery case. Miss Roberts returns alive refusing to let anyone touch the jewellery box, because she's keeping it for Lady Marjorie. Richard's new secretary, Hazel Forrest, wins the hearts of all when she very gently persuades Miss Roberts to open the box. That means accepting Lady Marjorie is gone and she breaks down into sobs, as she cries, "I tried to save her! I tried to make them [the life boat] go back! I tried to save my Lady."

Richard has recently hired Hazel to type the biography of his father-in-law which he is writing. Soon after, she and James fall in love and eventually marry. Hazel becomes mistress of the household, and they are happy for a time but start to grow apart; this estrangement is worsened by a miscarriage early in 1914.

Georgina Worsely, James's orphaned step-cousin, comes to live with the Bellamys at Christmas 1913, aged 18. Georgina is the daughter of Lady Marjorie's brother Hugo's wife, and her first husband. She decides to 'steal' some food from the pantry and offer it to the family of Daisy, the new parlourmaid, but she is horrified when she discovers Daisy's family live in the kind of abject poverty she has never had to experience.

Rose, the head houseparlourmaid, is shocked when Alfred, the Bellamy's former footman, turns up at Eaton Place one night. He claims he's been sacked by his former employer and is homeless. She agrees to hide him in one of the basement rooms, but is horrified when it later transpires Alfred is actually on the run from the police having murdered his previous employer. After taking Edward hostage in the coal cellar, Alfred is arrested and eventually hanged for murder. The following year, Rose briefly becomes engagaed to an Australian sheep-farmer called Gregory Wilmott whom she meets on an omnibus one day. She agrees to move to Australia with him, but later changes her mind, deciding to stay with the familiarity she knows at Eaton Place.

Richard, who has had to sell the lease of the house to James after Lady Marjorie's death (all her money passed on to James and Elizabeth), makes money after a share tip-off from a member of his gentleman's club. Richard is later accused of insider dealing and it is only the intervention of Hazel that saves his career.

During a visit to Somerby,the country house of James's school-friend Lord "Bunny" Newbury in the Autumn of 1913, Edward unwittingly becomes the witness in an impending divorce case when he spies rising Tory MP Charles Gilmour leaving the bedroom of a Duke's wife. Edward is put under pressure to lie and change his story, which he eventually does.

The servants are offered a day's holiday in Herne Bay in Kent in August 1914, but their enjoyement is curtailed by the announcement that Britain is at war with Germany...


James serves in World War I, is seriously injured in a trench battle and brought home to recover. He is nursed by his step-cousin Georgina, who is orphaned and came to live with the Bellamys at Christmas 1913, when she was 18. Hazel has a brief affair with an airman who, like herself, has risen from the ranks of the middle classes. He is killed while James is at home on leave. Rose meets up with Gregory Wilmot again and after overcoming several hurdles, finally agrees to marry him on his return from the war and follow him to Australia. Unfortunately he is killed, Rose is heartbroken but Gregory has left her £1200 in his will. Edward suffers from shell shock and goes into hospital. He speaks to Richard, who comforts him as if he were his own son.

In 1918, just as the War ended, Hazel dies, aged 32, in the worldwide influenza pandemic. Richard later marries a young widow named Mrs. Virginia Hamilton, who has three children, the eldest Michael was killed when he was 17 in the spring of 1918. Her other children, Alice, is 10 and her youngest son, William, is 6 when Richard proposes to Virginia Hamilton in late October/November 1918. He is elevated to the House of Lords as "Viscount Bellamy of Haversham" in the New Year Honours List of 1917.


Along the way, from 1903 through 1930, there are various and sundry adventures had by all, as many or more by the folk downstairs as upstairs. Georgina and her friends rebell against the depression and hard times of the war in the roaring 20s but her frivolity and merriment are brought to a quick end firstly, by the suicide of a friend who protested he loved her and threatened that, if she wouldn't marry him, he would kill himself — which he does, in the schoolroom at 165 Eaton Place, while a roaring 20s party rages below. Secondly, Georgina accidentally kills a working class man early one morning. He is on his way to work while she has borrowed Richard's car without asking and is going to a further party. Her friends desert her at the inquest, except the very rich, but very stupid Lady Dolly and the seeming dull and boring stick-in-the mud Lord Stockbridge, heir to a dukedom, who has been a witness in her defence despite his family being against it. He is in love with Georgina and she very quickly falls in love with him. James never settles and is never able to come to terms with his war experiences. He stands for Parliament but was not elected.

As Lord Stockbridge's parents have sent their son on a trip around the world to make sure his love for Georgina was true, James returns, in October 1929, from America — where he has visited Elizabeth and become rich through speculation on Wall Street. Rose allows James to invest the money Gregory left her when he died in the war in stocks and shares. Then the market crashes and James loses everything, plus he had "borrowed a fair bit" that he now is unable to repay. James has disgraced his family and taken advantage of a member of staff who trusted him. He becomes depressed and ashamed, and goes to a hotel in Maidenhead to commit suicide.

The final episode, in 1930, finds things looking up at Eaton Place as Georgina is married to Lord Stockbridge on 12 June 1930. Mr. Hudson and Mrs. Bridges also finally marry, and take the uneducated but surprisingly shrewd kitchen maid, Ruby Finch, off to the seaside with them, to run a guest house called "Seaview" (however, you can only see the cliffs from the top bedroom window, over the other houses). When asked by Rose how she feels about becoming part of the Hudsons' household, Ruby says "They'll not last long and I'll get the guest house" (i.e. because of their age). Lord Bellamy has delivered his retirement speech to the House of Lords. He and Virginia, Lady Bellamy, retire to a small villa, keeping Rose Buck in their employ. Young Edward and his wife, Daisy, are elevated to the posts of butler and Head House Parlourmaid in the country household of Marquess and new Marchioness of Stockbridge.

The last scene shows Rose taking a final walk through all of the (now empty) rooms and memories at 165 Eaton Place, which is up for sale, and likely to be redeveloped into flats. She hears the voices of Lady Marjorie, of Mr Hudson and of many incidents she had witnessed over the years but when she finally hears the voice of James, talking about Gregory's honourable death in WWI, she realises that it was time to move on and leaves through the front door.



"Upstairs, Downstairs" ran for five series from 10 December 1971 to 21 December 1975. The first four series consisted of thirteen episodes each, while the final series consisted of sixteen episodes. Due to an industrial dispute over extra payments for using newly-introduced colour equipment in which broadcasting unions refused to allow their members to use colour cameras, the first six episodes of the first series were shot in black-and-white, and when colour production resumed, the first episode was remade in colour. Two endings were made, which could be shown depending on whether or not the black and white episodes were broadcast by the channel. The original black-and-white first episode is believed to have been wiped.

The opening credits of each episode featured a cartoon from the magazine "Punch", and the lettering was drawn by the graphic designer Terry Griffiths. The theme tune was composed by Alexander Faris and entitled "The Edwardians". It won an Ivor Novello Award. Part of this tune would be made into the song "What Are We Going To Do With Uncle Arthur?", sung by Sarah, with lyrics written by Alfred Shaughnessy. Pauline Collins released this as a single in 1973.

Many writers wrote episodes throughout the five series, including Alfred Shaughnessy, John Hawkesworth, Fay Weldon, Terence Brady & Charlotte Bingham, John Harrison, Julian Bond, Raymond Bowers, Jeremy Paul, Rosemary Anne Sisson, Anthony Skene and Elizabeth Jane Howard.


Each episode of "Upstairs, Downstairs" was made in a fortnightly production schedule. The first week and a half would be spent rehearsing, with two days in the studio - the latter part of the second day being used for recording.cite news|url=|title=Inside UpDown - The Story of Upstairs, Downstairs|first=|last=|publisher=Kaleidoscope Publishing|date=2005] Location footage was usually shot beforehand. The exterior shots of 165, Eaton Place was filmed at 65, Eaton Place with the "1" painted on. "Upstairs, Downstairs" was one of the first major colour productions to be made by LWT. Interior sequences were first recorded in LWT's first studio production area in Wembley in London, for all of series one and the episode "A Pair of Exiles" in series two. For the rest of series two and for the remaining three series the interior sequences were recorded in LWT's brand new studio complex called Kent House, or as it is known today The London Studios.


"Upstairs, Downstairs" was nominated and won many national and international awards. It was nominated for the BAFTA Television award for "Best Drama Series" in 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1976, winning in 1972 and 1974. Pauline Collins was also nominated as "Best Actress" in 1973 for her role as Sarah, and in 1975 Gordon Jackson was nominated as "Best Actor" for playing Mr Hudson. [cite news|url=|title=BBC Guide|first=|last=|publisher=BBC|date=2005]

In the United States, "Upstairs, Downstairs" was honoured in the both the Emmy Awards and the Golden Globes. In 1974, 1975 and 1977 it won the award for "Outstanding Drama Series" at the Emmys. In 1975, Jean Marsh won the award for "Best Actress - Drama Series", while Bill Bain won the award for "Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series". The following year, it won the "Outstanding Limited Series" category and Gordon Jackson won as "Outstanding Supporting Actor", while Angela Baddeley was nominated as "Outstanding Supporting Actress - Drama Series". In 1977, Jacqueline Tong was nominated for "Outstanding Supporting Actress - Drama". In the Golden Globes, "Upstairs, Downstairs" won the ' in 1975 and it was nominated for this in 1978. Jean Marsh was nominated in 1976 and 1977 as '. [cite news|url=|title=BBC Guide|first=|last=|publisher=BBC|date=2005]

Alfred Shaughnessy, the script editor and frequent writer, was nominated for an Emmy twice, for the episodes "Miss Forrest" and "Another Year". Another frequent writer was the producer, John Hawkesworth, who was nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series for the episode "The Bolter". Fay Weldon won a Writers' Guild award for Best British TV Series Script of 1971 for the first episode "On Trial".


Following the final episode of "Upstairs, Downstairs" many ideas for spin-offs were thought of. These included having the new Lord and Lady Stockbridge buying back 165 Eaton Place and an American company wanted to make a programme based around Hudson and Rose emigrating to the United States. Another idea, called "You Live or You Die", was to have Frederick Norton seeking his fortune in the US. A further idea would have followed Hudson, Mrs Bridges and Ruby running their seaside boarding house, and this probably would have been made had it not been for the death of Angela Baddeley on 22 February 1976. The only spin-off to make it screen was "Thomas & Sarah", which broadcast in 1979, and this followed the adventures of Thomas and Sarah after they left Eaton Place.


Each series of "Upstairs, Downstairs" was accompanied by a novelisation, with additional detail in each, but also with some episodes missing. All books were published by Sphere Books. The novelisation of the first series, "Upstairs, Downstairs or the secrets of an Edwardian household", was written by John Hawkesworth and published in 1972. Hawkesworth also wrote the series two novelisation, "In My Lady's Chamber" and this was published in 1973. The following year, Mollie Hardwick's novelisation of the third series, "The Years of Change", was published and she also wrote the 1975 "The War to End Wars", the fourth series novelisation. The fifth series, which was longer than the others, was novelised in two books, both by Michael Hardwick and published in 1975. They were called "On With The Dance" and "Endings And Beginnings".

As well as these novelisations, five books were separately published, again by Sphere Books, with each being the biography of a main character before the series started. "Rose's Story" was written by Terence Brady & Charlotte Bingham and published in 1972. The following year, Mollie Hardwick's "Sarah's Story" and Michael Hardwick's "Mr Hudson's Diaries" were both published. "Mr Bellamy's Story", by Michael Hardwick, was published in 1974 and "Mrs Bridge's Story" by Mollie Hardwick was published in 1975. Also in 1975, "The Upstairs, Downstairs Omnibus", featuring all five slightly edited stories, was published.


The BBC series "The Duchess of Duke Street" is widely seen as the BBC's answer to "Upstairs, Downstairs", not least because some of the same producers and writers worked on it, and it also has a theme tune by Faris. The 1990 BBC sitcom "You Rang, M'Lord?" also featured a similar situation. In the early 1990s, Marsh and Atkins created another successful period drama, "The House of Eliott", for the BBC. In 1975 an American version, entitled "Beacon Hill", debuted but due to low ratings it was soon cancelled, running for just thirteen episodes. Tom Wolfe called the series a plutography, i.e. a "graphic depiction of the lives of the rich." [Citation| last =Wolfe| first =Tom| author-link =Tom Wolfe| title =Snob's Progress| newspaper =New York Times| pages =| year =1986| date =1986-06-15| url =|access date=2007-07-12]

In 2000, a stop-motion animated series called "Upstairs Downstairs Bears" was based upon "Upstairs, Downstairs".

Company Pictures' 2008 television series "The Palace" has been described as a "modern "Upstairs, Downstairs" as it features the points of view of both a fictional royal family and their servants. [cite news|first= Tara|last= Conlan|title= ITV commissions Buckingham Palace drama|url=|work= Media Guardian|date= 2007-01-11|accessdate= 2007-12-27]

DVD releases

Region One

"Upstairs, Downstairs" was first released to Region One DVD in December 2001 by A&E Home Entertainment. During 2002, A&E released the remaining series. "Thomas and Sarah" was released on DVD in 2004 also by A&E. The individual releases have also been collected together into two boxed sets. The second of which - The Collector's Edition Megaset - also includes "Thomas and Sarah".

Region Two

"Upstairs, Downstairs" was originally released on DVD by VCI in Region 2 (UK). The colour episodes of the first series were released in 2001 followed by the other series finishing in 2003. In 2004, the black-and-white episodes and the first episode with the original ending were released. "Thomas & Sarah" was released in matching packaging in 2004. In 2005, VCI stopped making these DVDs. There were no extras on any of the DVDs.

Network Video released the entire programme series by series from 2005 to 2006. The episodes were digitally remastered and the black-and-white episodes were put in chronological order in the first series. Some episodes also featured audio commentaries, the LWT logo, commercial bumpers and the original preceding countdowns. In addition, each series was accompanied by a special one hour documentary relating to that series featuring new and archive interviews. The fifth series release also featured the 1975 documentary "Russell Harty goes... Upstairs, Downstairs". In 2006, a boxed set featuring all the DVDs was released.

DVDs of the series have also been released in Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Portugal.

Region Four

Universal DVD released all five series to DVD in Australia and New Zealand. These were later deleted. Timelife is beginning to issue the series as a mail-order collection.


External links

* [] - "Upstairs, Downstairs" Fansite
* [ "Upstairs, Downstairs" at the Encyclopedia of Television]

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