Upstairs Downstairs: Playing Mr Pritchard

Sunday 26 December 2010, 09:00

Adrian Scarborough Adrian Scarborough Actor

Tagged with:

I came to play the role of Mr Pritchard by a curious turn of events.

I had worked on Cranford with both Heidi Thomas (the writer of this revival) and Eileen Atkins. They'd also seen me in a play at the National Theatre.

And the part kind of landed in my lap from that really.

It was totally unexpected and extremely flattering. I read the scripts and just fell in love with Mr Pritchard and I completely bought the whole idea of 165 Eaton Place being re-imagined.

So rather suddenly, but delightedly I was in Upstairs Downstairs.

I think being a downstairs character suits me as a person - I'm not good with airs and graces.

But the great thing about Mr Pritchard is that he spans both worlds - and very efficiently at that. It's called 'having your cake and eating it'.

One minute he can be opening the front door for Wallis Simpson and the next minute arranging flowers in a vase.

I love the frantic nature of downstairs where we are constantly on the go - preparing food, cleaning clothing - contrasted with the smoothness of upstairs, which has to look utterly effortless and calm.

Being in both worlds also means I get to spend time with everyone in the cast, which is a real treat.

The new version differs from the original as the characters (with the exception of Rose Buck) are all new to Eaton Place.

Heidi has used genuine historical events around 1936 to colour and chart the storylines.

Because of the way the original series had to be made, the camera shots were dictated by the settings. With the new series, a single camera crew made it possible to shoot the scenes any way the director wanted.

The detail of the sets and costumes are astonishing.

By the time I'd put my tail coat, wing collar, bow tie and watch chain on and walked onto the magnificent hall and stairs set, or the low-ceilinged warm and chintzy downstairs set, no acting was required - it all felt so real and convincing.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

I have enormous admiration for what the art, costume and make-up departments all created. It was the perfect playground.

My favourite room was the kitchen pantry. There were shelves and shelves of provisions, boxes and jars from the period along with home-made preserves and chutneys, bottled beetroot and pickled onions.

You only catch little glimpses of it in the show, but the art and props departments worked tirelessly to make it historically accurate as well as beautifully evocative.

I loved the all cast but I simply adored Anne Reid who plays Mrs Thackeray, the cook.

I've admired her work for years. Let's face it, she's a national institution.

We hit it off the minute we met. She is something of a minx on set. She can make me laugh simply by raising an eyebrow.

Her anecdotes are comedy gold, and she's never afraid to take a difficult path in a scene.

We travelled back from Cardiff (where we shot the series) on the same train a couple of times. My sides ached from laughing by the time we reached Paddington.

She's also partial to a glass of red wine, like my good self, especially on trains, which endears her to me even more.

Emma Clifford as Mrs Simpson and Eileen Atkins as Lady Holland

Eileen's character, Maud, has a pet monkey, which was remarkably professional on set.

There was one occasion however when I was serving coffee by the breakfast table and it wouldn't do what was required.

If I poured the coffee once I must have poured it a thousand times. Every time we went for another take we had to reset the cups, the milk, the coffee, the spills I'd made, the sugar tongs etc. By the end of the scene I wanted to swear at it.

Subsequently watching the scene, you can't really see me doing anything. The monkey steals it every time it's on screen.

I have had a terrific time working on Upstairs Downstairs. Not least because of Cardiff. I know the city pretty well because we filmed Gavin and Stacey there.

I love the shopping arcades and the warmth of the people. I'm desperate to see a rugby match at the Millennium Stadium though. Maybe next time around!

It's going to feel very strange not being around when the series starts.

I'm going on a road trip in the USA with my wife and kids, so I shall have to wait until I'm back to gauge the response and to see what my children think.

I'm always conscious that I have a lot of potential to embarrass them.

Gavin and Stacey gave me a cool quota mostly - I'm not certain of Mr Pritchard's cool leanings. Still, if my mum and her friends like it, that's all that matters.

Adrian Scarborough plays Mr Pritchard in Upstairs Downstairs.

Upstairs Downstairs starts on Sunday, 26 December at 9pm on BBC One and BBC One HD.

For further programme times, please visit the upcoming episodes page.

Adrian Scarborough also appears in Miranda. Watch Adrian's interview with Miranda Hart on the BBC Comedy website.

Comments made by writers on the TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

Tagged with:

Comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1.

    Just a heads up to the original series on Independant TV with the role of house butler wonderfully played by Gordon Jackson

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2.

    "Favourite room is the kitchen pantry"
    How very cluish of you - it was Mr Pritchard in the pantry with the butter knife!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 3.

    Pity there is no where on the BBC website to comment about programmes, so I am adding this here. I was and still am a big fan of the original. I am enjoying this new Upstairs Downstairs. But I do think that this drama feels somewhat rushed. It's a shame, it could easily have been made into a longer series so that we could get to know the characters as many of us did with the original.

    There is room for a good quality drama on the BBC, one which can grow over time. Why bring this back to life in three parts, when it could have been the new period drama for 2011 as a series. It feels like pieces of the story are missing, the jumps ahead in time to fit the story line in, is a bit of a shame.

    The characters are good enough to have been given time to develop and grow for a new generation to enjoy, the set as amazing as the original - just more polished. It is good, but it could have been so much better if not rushed. I hope someone sees what they have here and develops this for the new year.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    Upstairs Downstairs great to have it back but it is a pity only 3 episodes. I hope that the BBC makes more episodes in the future.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    I totally agree with Betty's comment on here regarding Upstairs Downstairs, its just as good as the original. I hope the BBC will make more episodes for the future, its been beautifully written again by Jean Marsh..please please can we have some more!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 6.

    i have watched up down since i was 11 years old and still watch all the re runs !!. I never tire of this series. I was so excited to discover the sequel to the original was in the making, i have seen the first 2 episodes and i am loving it, however the only thing i can say negitively is the relationship of the upstairs towards the downstairs. In the original series the bellamy family were always kind and empathetic to the servants, the holland youngers are not so, i feel this spoils my enjoyment it lends to an air of so much us and those down there. On the positive, it is wonderful and the cast couldn't be better, absolutely love dame eileen atkins, she and rose, oops ms marsh bring the whole drama together. I do hope a new series is made but with much more empathy rather than shouting at the staff, after all this was part of the magic of the original series...so glad you are back.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 7.

    In agreement with Betty, I would like to see some examination of the issues highlighted in the programme. Episode 2 was overtly political, showing Mosley's vile Blackshirts. We should know more about this, as Mosley is now seen as a buffoon, holding meetings and rallies in the teeth of opposition up to the 1960s. How interesting that Chauffeurs in both Downton and Upstairs/Downstairs are Left-wing political activists. But how many know that the political differences between them are wafer thin, despite one being a Socialist and the other a Fascist?

    In the 1930s, Fascism was sweeping Europe and Mosley was a serious threat, appealing to elements of both the working class and to some of the intelligentsia. But how many know that Mosley left the Labour Party in protest at its the move to the Right to deal with the Depression? How many know the almost identical totalitarian Socialist programme that Fascists and Communists shared? How many know that we have in the BNP an almost identical movement today? Armed with hindsight, our current elite abhor the BNP, yet give far more time and consideration than would seem prudent to others who espouse not too dissimilar agendas. May I recommend "Liberal Fascism" for further illumination.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 8.

    The background music to these 3 episodes has been appauling. Far too loud, almost constantly playing, and a dreadful oboe/clarinet drowing out the speech. Why is it necessary to fill every gap with some sort of music?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 9.

    Please BBC, make more of this fantastic series. I want more!!!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 10.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this revival. I loved the new series.

    I used to watch Upstairs, Downstairs as a child in Portugal in the late 1970's. It was called A família Bellamy. The whole household, well, just my parents and I really, used to stop everything to watch this quaintest of shows, so far removed from our daily reality, our history, our culture, but yet so close to us, in all the humanity that poured through the screen.

    The new series was simply perfect. The actors fantastic and the story lines enthralling. It had been a long time since I had enjoyed myself so much in front of a TV set, which I usually only turn on to watch the news or films I choose. I particularly enjoyed the more serious take on history - the situation in Germany just before War World II and the spectre of fascism hanging also in the English air.

    I was getting used to the characters, but after three days the entertainment stopped. I suppose it's better that way. Better to miss them than eventually get bored by it. Anyway, it was a perfect moment of TV and I must confess that I would not mind a few more episodes coming our way.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 11.

    Just watched Upstairs Downstairs on BBC One HD on Freesat in Spain.

    Impressed is not the word - In fact, this is wonderful. I cannot fault it at all & I am the type to notice little things, like in Downton Abbey Episode 2, opening credits - TV aerial spotted yet it is 1912 (TV came about around 1922), hey ho... but I digress!

    Upstairs Downstairs is fabulous! It is faithful to it's predecessor, has all the elements the original had, yet so swish & the sets are excuisite.

    I shed a few tears, not just due to the great storylines, but this took me back to when I was a kiddie in St. Albans, UK. I used to do my homework & it would be on.

    Please, please, please commission a full series & absolutely pass on my congratulations to Jean Marsh & Aileen Atkins for bringing us such a beauftiful masterpiece.

    Well done BBC for taking it on, I forgot we are all in such a downturn, for tonight, I feel like a million dollars.

    Best regards from sunny Spain.

    Looking forward to the Blu Ray release (I hope) & a full season!

    Happy new year, may it be all UP, & now at all down!

    Diego Lopez,
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]
    Malaga,
    Spain

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 12.

    Well, It has to be said. We have just really enjoyed watching the 'New', "Upstairs-Downstairs" on BBC1.. As normal. If you want costume drama done properly, leave it to the BBC... It was Superb Telly.. And Warrants a Series!! Well done BBC

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 13.

    I totally agree with comment 8 from Rogers, I had to constantly turn the volume up and down, the music was indeed appalling and totally unnecessary, in fact it completely ruined the series for me, I think this ought to be brought to the attention of the producers, if the next series is the same I just won´t watch it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 14.

    In total agreement with Betty Above. My wife, mother-in-law and I have just finished watching this drama. It was brilliant. We all all fans of the original series and this has all the hallmarks of the original. Excellent. Please follow it up with a new series. The characters are very believable and in my opinion a new series would be riveting. Well done Jean Marsh.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 15.

    Fantastic drama. Excellent cast. Really should be consider for a series in the future. My husband who wouldn't normally watch this type of drama enjoyed it also. Not sure what the fuss is about the background music though because we didn't even notice there was any! Having said that we are used to watching TV with the background noise of 2 young children, so maybe we've become expert at filtering out surplus sounds!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 16.

    Why. oh why does the bbc have to have that awful screechy supposedly 'background' music going on when the characters are speaking?
    This is not the only program where the 'music' drowns the voices, but it is one of the worst!
    For people with hearing difficulties this is a real problem, and spoils their enjoyment of the series.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 17.

    I was so captivated by the three episodes. Please, please do more. Each character was so endearing, believable and at times brought me to tears. Extremely well done beautifully written and presented I was glued from start to finish. Love to Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins truly brilliant. I leave holding my breath for more......

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 18.

    Thank you BBC for entertaining me over the past 3 evenings. I absolutely adored Upstairs/Downstairs - I never saw the original series - wish I had now. Please, please try to give us more of this high quality drama. The costumes, language, sets and story line were truly superb. I feel sad that it was just a mini series - more please!!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this new mini series, having enjoyed the "original" Upstairs Downstairs. I do hope very much there will be a sequel.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    We really enjoyed this series probably even more than the original, as it kept all of the charm of the original but added even more, with equally wonderful actors, great story lines and good sets. Very good and we would love to see more. Please continue the series. It was superb! Hats off to Jean Marsh!

 

Page 1 of 2

This entry is now closed for comments

Share this page

More Posts

Previous
Christmas Top Of The Pops: My nearly accident-free show

Thursday 23 December 2010, 09:00

Next
Toast: The magic and humour in memoirs of my childhood suppers

Thursday 30 December 2010, 09:00

About this Blog

Get the views of cast, presenters, scriptwriters and crew from inside the shows. Read reviews and opinions and share yours on all things TV - your favourite episodes, live programmes, the schedule and everything else.

We ask that comments on the blog fall within the house rules.

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?