Dame Eileen Atkins leaves Upstairs Downstairs

Dame Eileen Atkins Dame Eileen Atkins starred in the new version after turning down the chance to act in the 1970s original

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Actress Dame Eileen Atkins has decided not to appear in the next series of Upstairs Downstairs, the TV period drama she helped to create.

Dame Eileen conceived the idea for the original series, which ran from 1971-75, with fellow actress Jean Marsh.

She did not appear in the original, but was in the cast when the BBC revived the show for a new version last year.

However Dame Eileen, who played Lady Holland, is reportedly unhappy with the direction the new scripts are taking.

A BBC statement said: "It's with much sadness that we say goodbye to her wonderful character, the straight speaking mother-in-law Lady Holland.

"However, we respect her decision and we will be announcing new star casting soon."

The show follows the intertwined fortunes of a diplomat's family and their servants in a grand London townhouse.

The next six episodes will start filming in October and are due to be broadcast next year.

Marsh is the only person who appeared in both the original and the revived versions. She was joined in last year's series by Keeley Hawes, Ed Stoppard and Claire Foy.

When the new series was announced, writer Heidi Thomas said: "The Holland family and their servants are set for an extraordinary year and I am thrilled to be their guardian."

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