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July 28, 2014

They're remaking Upstairs Downstairs

by Allison Waldman, posted Oct 13th 2009 7:26AM
upstairs_downstairs_PBSBefore Dallas and Dynasty and Falcon Crest and Knots Landings captured the imaginations of American viewers, there was a British soap import that was even more compelling.

From 1971-75, PBS aired the British upper crust soap Upstairs Downstairs. And now Upstairs Downstairs is going to be remade. It'll be filmed and shown in England first before coming to America in 2011.

What made Upstairs Downstairs classic television – it won Emmys, BAFTAs and Golden Globes – was the way it depicted of the British class system. Upstairs you had the rich, privileged Bellamy family. Downstairs there were the servants who worked for them. The lives of all these characters intertwined in a well-written, brilliantly acted drama series.

Jean Marsh, who starred and co-created the original, will be involved in the remake. Back then she played Rose, a simple maid. In the new edition, she's still Rose but older and with a better position, head housekeeper.

CBS tried to create an Upstairs Downstairs type of show in 1975 called Beacon Hill. It was set in Boston, but it didn't duplicate the quality or appeal of the British series. It was well-made and won an Emmy for art direction, but it didn't last more than a year. Maybe it was the Marvin Hamlisch theme song.

The original series featured superb British actors, including Lesley Anne Down (currently on The Bold and the Beautiful), Anthony Andrews, Angela Baddeley, Gordon Jackson, Ian Ogilvy and Gareth Hunt.

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