Series: Upstairs Downstairs
Hazel Bellamy:Upstairs Downstairs
There are two families living in this house. There's us, the Bellamys, and there's the family downstairs. With father Hudson, mother Bridges, and their son Edward—who's in the army now, and so proud of him we are. There's the eldest daughter Rose, who lost her young man at the front. And the two youngest daughters— Richard Bellamy:
No, one's a daughter-in-law. Daisy, married to Edward, who lives with her in-laws. Hazel:
Yes. Then Ruby, the youngest, rather simple child. Perhaps one day we'll all be one big family, not two. Richard:
I think we are now, in one sense. As for the future, I have my doubts, but then, tomorrow's a long way off.
—Season 4, Ep 9. "Another Year" January, 1917
is a British (LWT for ITV
) period drama that ran from 1971 to 1975 (with a Revival
in 2010; see below). It details the lives of the well-to-do Bellamy family of 165 Eaton Place and their staff of servants from the years of 1903 to 1930. Created by Jean Marsh (Rose Buck) and Eileen Atkins, who were tired of period dramas where the servants were voiceless extras.
This show provides examples of:
- Absentee Actor: Due to having Loads and Loads of Characters, the entire cast is rarely present at any given time. Even during the more crowded episodes, there are absences; for example, Mrs. Bridges misses Elizabeth Bellamy's wedding.
- If you watch consecutively, the amount of time the staff spend in hospital due to one accident or another becomes absolutely astounding. In later seasons, Rose seems to spend half her time visiting her family.
- Edward spends almost half a season off-screen supposedly recovering from having fallen down the back stairs and broken his leg. In reality, actor Christopher Beeny broke his leg in a motorcycle accident on the way to the studio.
- The Baby Trap
- Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: First season subtext between Rose and Sarah. Sarah frequently uses "the time we spent snuggled together in our little attic room" to goad Rose into going along with Sarah's latest scheme.
- Bawdy Song: "What Are We Going to Do with Uncle Arthur?"
- The Bechdel Test: Actually passes with flying colours. Although the young ladies are featured romantically, and Sarah has a string of lovers and at one point goes on the stage as a prelude to a fling with James, the series is very broad in dealing with inter-woman dialogue that does not depend on relationships with men. Rose and Sarah in particular have a very close sisterly relationship in the early series, constantly discussing the world as seen through a young woman's eyes. Similarly, the relationship between Rose and Elizabeth, as maid and mistress, has much more of a dimension to it than just being a way for Elizabeth to complain about her various gentleman friends. The episode about the Suffragette movement convincingly focuses on women's issues. Flapper Dolly Hale and Georgina Worsley in the 1920s episodes, however, tend to drag the series back towards relationship talk again.
- Benevolent Boss: Mr. Bellamy, even when it gets him into trouble.
- Ship Crash: The ship in question being the Titanic.
- Cast Herd: They're conveniently labeled for you in the title!
- The Charmer: Footman Edward Barnes
- Genteel Interbellum Setting
- Consummate Liar: Sarah and Watkins. Sarah being more of the Lucky Liar variety.
- Convenient Miscarriage: Twice; justified, as infant mortality was much higher in 1909 and 1914. Neither case was coverup for a pregnant actress.
- If you mean Sarah, played by Pauline Collins, yes, she was. Both her character's pregnancies were real pregnancies of the actress, both by her husband, John Alderton, who himself played the character, Thomas Watkins, who was the father of the second baby. Although, the outcome of the second pregnancy is never known in the context of the show. It is known only by viewers of the spin-off Thomas and Sarah. In real life, both pregnancies (and a third, after the show was over), went just fine.
- Dawson Casting: Justified, as there are frequent Time Skips. It's actually a peculiar sort of Dawson Casting, because the original series spans thirty years of historical time, but only four years of real time, so the mainstays of the series never seem to age even though thirty years changes a human being radically, particularly those of Lord Bellamy's, Mrs Bridges' and Hudson's ages. If Rose was twenty as the series begun, she would be fifty at the end, for example. But Jean Marsh herself only ages four years... This is actually quite useful, as, even if they did not know it, it provides a good continuity as to why Rose looks a lot older in the 2010 continuation of the series. If she is actually fifty at the end of the series, then she'd be 56 at the beginning of the 2010 series, so, it all worked out in the end.
- Depraved Homosexual: Alfred, who runs away with a German nobleman and later kills him. He later adds Bury Your Gays to the roster as he is hanged for the murder of his Lithuanian gentleman friend.
- Driven to Suicide: Scullery maid Emily in "I Dies of Love".
- And James Bellamy in "All the King's Horses".
- The Edwardian Era
- End of an Age: The series chronicles the slow decline of Victorian society in the face of modernity. This is lampshaded a few times near the end of the series:
- Family Drama
- Fashions Never Change: Averted, even the servants' uniforms change.
- 555: The Bellamys' address, 165 Eaton Place, doesn't exist. The house at 65 Eaton was used for the exteriors; a "1" was painted next to the number.
- Foregone Conclusion: Hmmm... 1912. April. America. A Ship. Do the maths. If you don't know, Lady Marjorie Bellamy and Mrs. Roberts are taking the Titanic. Yes. THAT Titanic. It ends about as well as you would expect it to end.
- The Gay Nineties
- Geodesic Cast
- Gold Digger: Frederick, although Lady Marjorie's family also sees Richard as one.
- Gorgeous Period Dress
- Grand Finale: "Whither Shall I Wander?"
- The Great Depression: The show ends as it's beginning. James's suicide comes after he's wiped out in the Crash of 1929.
- Happily Married: Marjorie and Richard. The two are so happily married that they even - admittedly offscreen - tell each other to remarry if the other dies.
- Richard later does and is very happy with Virginia.
- Happiness in Slavery: Hudson, with type 3. Not only does he believe it is his moral duty to BE a servant to the aristocracy, but he believes anyone existing outside the Peerage/servant arrangement, (tradesmen in one rant), is the "scum of the earth" and all of society will collapse because of them.
- Heroic BSOD: James, Edward
- The House of Windsor: Edward VII, George V
- Kinky Spanking: A very mild example. In one episode, Georgina and James get into a flirtatious play fight that ends with her across his knee being spanked with a newspaper. They stop as soon as Hudson walks in.
- Kissing Cousins: Georgina and James, although Georgina is adopted.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Subverted, played straight and then ultimately played for drama in the case of Elizabeth. She very much wishes to have a baby with her husband in season 2, but he refuses to sleep with her. However, the very first time she eventually has sex, she conceives. Unfortunately, the man she slept with was not her husband, and she definitely did not want to find out she was having his child while trying to get her marriage annulled on grounds of it never being consummated. Later on, she must then deal with having to raise a baby she is ashamed to have had.
- Linear Edit
- Loads and Loads of Characters: More than 20 recurring ones!
- Madonna–Whore Complex: Laurence's problem. He has no problem having sex with a "bad" woman like his snarky, experienced bohemian girlfriend Evelyn, but he idealizes his virginal aristocratic bride Elizabeth as "pure" to the point where he refuses to have sex with her and tells her that she's "morbid" for wanting sex.
- Mrs. Robinson: Lady Marjorie is old enough to be Captain Hammond's mother.
- Not So Different: Elizabeth to Lady Marjorie when confronted about her recent infidelity in the episode "The Fruits Of Love".
- Old Retainer: As you might expect.
- The Plan: "The Swedish Tiger"
- Playing Against Type: Angela Baddeley (Mrs. Bridges, the cook) had been previously typecast as a Blue Blood, probably because she was Blue Blood in Real Life. She wasn't the only one, either.
- Present Day Past: Many of the woman's clothing and interior sets have colours and patterns that belonged much more in the late 1960's and early 1970's than Edwardian England. Notably, Lady Marjorie's dresses in season 1 and the chocolate brown and baby blue trimmed walls of one house. Also an example of Hollywood Costuming.
- Proper Lady: Lady Marjorie is a near spotless example
- Put on a Bus: Elizabeth goes to America.
- Rebellious Princess: Elizabeth is not happy about her debut.
- The Roaring Twenties
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Rose and Sarah.
- Sex Equals Love: Subverted into Love Equals Sex between Elizabeth and Laurence.
- Sexless Marriage: Elizabeth and Laurence.
- Shell-Shocked Senior: Edward, James, and Mrs. Roberts (from her Titanic experience).
- Silk Hiding Steel:Hazel Bellamy.
- Spinoff: Thomas and Sarah
- Spoiled Brat: Elizabeth
- Theme Tune Cameo: Sarah performs the stately march of the titles as Bawdy Song in her music hall act.
- Time Skip
- Upper-Class Twit: James Bellamy, and Gentleman Snarker in his better moments
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Played sympathetically in Elizabeth's stints as a socialist and suffragette.
- World War One: Great examples of life on the Home Front; as well as the viewpoints of an officer (James), soldiers (Edward, Gregory Wilmot), an RFC pilot (Jack Dyson), and a nurse (Georgina) in France.
A very small part of the cast.Upstairs Downstairs
was resurrected in 2010, with the show now airing on The BBC
. The revival series is set in the year 1936, and features the character of Rose Buck as the link towards the original series.
165 Eaton Place has been sold to a new family, the Hollands. Lady Agnes hires Rose Buck (now running a hiring agency for domestic help) to staff the house, but the new mistress's stinginess with salary hurts Rose's options for hiring new employees. She ultimately hires her best friend (the snarky cook), a rebellious young orphan (the maid), a former cruise ship butler (as head butler), a young teenager attendant with a dark past (the footman), a young wannabe fascist (the chauffeur), and Rose herself as the head housekeeper.
Upstairs, meanwhile, Sir Hallam Holland is secretary to Anthony Eden and a personal friend of the Duke of Kent. With the accession of Edward VIII and his relationship with Wallis Simpson and the growing rise of fascism in England, he's kept busy. His wife Agnes has her own problems - firstly, her mother-in-law has shown up after spending several decades in India, with the reveal that Hallam's father's will requires he provide his mom with a permanent home in order to keep his inheritance. Agnes meanwhile has her own problems: a high risk pregnancy that she fears will end with another miscarriage and her younger sister Persephone. Persephone is a head-strong fascist sympathizer who resents her dependence upon her sister and brother-in-law for financial help, causing her to act out.
This show provides examples of:
- Alas, Poor Villain: Persie's death, and Agnes's reaction to it.
- Big Bad: Persie is the cause of most of the trouble on the show, directly or indirectly. She embarrasses Hallam by flirting publicly with Joachim von Ribbentrop in front of much of London society at a party. She encourages Harry Spargo's interest in fascism. She runs away to Germany, where she becomes the girlfriend of an SS officer and then starts a sordid affair with Hallam that ends up ruining Hallam and Agnes's marriage (she eventually rubs the affair in Agnes's face and implies that her abortion was because she was pregnant by Hallam instead of Friedrich during their fight in the series finale). The revelation of her past relationship with Harry Spargo nearly causes Beryl to break up with him. She uses her relationship with Hallam to glean British government and military secrets, which she passes to the Nazis; the cloud of suspicion and scandal surrounding him force him to resign his position and nearly destroy his whole career. Her suicidal gesture with a gun after it's clear that neither Hallam, Friedrich nor Harry will have anything to do with her any more leads to her accidentally shooting and nearly killing Beryl, thus preventing Beryl and Harry from emigrating to America as they hoped. Her suicide brings further scandal to the family and heartbreak to Agnes. She's cruel to Pamela (because of her disability) and to Blanche (because she's a lesbian). Her constant drama disrupts everyone's lives over and over.
- Black Shirt: Spargo in Season One.
- Channel Hop: The original series was with rival channel ITV, but the revival is on BBC One, and now competing with ITV's newer period drama Downton Abbey.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Ivy disappears between seasons without explanation.
- Comically Missing the Point: When Amanjit asks to go with Lady Holland and Lotte, Maud tells him that it will be enough of a circus without him.
- Cute Mute: Lotte.
- Driven to Suicide: Persie, after watching everything she'd done wrong come back to haunt her, and then managing to (by accident for once) make things even worse, quietly climbs over a railing. There's a very loud THUD and lots of blood.
- Dueling Shows: With ITV's Downton Abbey, with the added irony of Upstairs Downstairs originally being an ITV show.
- Femme Fatale: Persie.
- From Dress to Dressing: Lady Agnes stems the bloodflow of Beryl the housemaid Bride-to-be when she is shot in the shoulder by Lady Persephone.
- Historical-Domain Character: Wallis Simpson, John F. Kennedy, Neville Chamberlain, Anthony Eden, Cecil Beaton, Oswald Mosley and Joachim von Ribbentrop all appear onscreen at various points. Prince George, Duke of Kent is one of Hallam's close friends, and is a supporting character (the actor is credited in the Title Sequence).
- Ignored Expert: Sir Hallam's insight into foreign policy is pretty much always spot-on, yet his superiors rarely follow his advice.
- Incurable Cough of Death: Rachel.
- Last Minute Hook Up: Johnny and Eunice.
- The Mole: Persie.
- Never My Fault: In season 2, Hallam blames just about everyone but himself for his marital problems and Agnes drifting away from him. This reaches its peak when he starts a fight with another man over the mistaken belief that said man was having an affair with Agnes (both of them truthfully told him they weren't) and then insists that it was Agnes's fault, that she somehow orchestrated the scenario to have two men fight over her honor.
- Pretty in Mink: Agnes wears a number of first, at least in the first episode.
- Put on a Bus: Maud, Lady Holland. She dies offscreen between series 1 and 2.
- The Reveal: Pamela isn't dead. She has Down's syndrome, and her mother's kept her hidden away in a mental hospital.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Deconstructed; Spargo's belief in fascism is rooted in his hatred of the class system in England and his disdain for the social isolation that exists between the help and their employers. Ironically, Hallam DOES interact with Spargo and starts to break down the walls between employer and employee, until he finds out Spargo's political beliefs. Beliefs that are then severely damaged when Persephone, who DOES treat Spargo like a human being AND is sympathetic towards his right wing beliefs, dumps him for the German ambassador after the two hook up.
- In season two, Spargo has renounced fascism and gotten himself a new girlfriend; but with World War II on the horizon and Spargo accidentally catching Persie and Hallam making out, he blackmails Hallam into giving him the cash to flee to America with his girlfriend. Then Persie shoots said girlfriend and kills herself. Spargo then gives the money back to Hallam, having been shamed by his actions though having regained Hallam's trust and forgiveness as Hallam tells Spargo that he is willing to forget the whole blackmail thing
- You Are a Credit to Your Race: Persie's apparent attitude to Rachel and Lotte.
- Young Future Famous People: John F. Kennedy is just an awkward university student when we see him.