Thursday 19 Dec 2013
The legendary TV series Upstairs Downstairs is to be brought back to life by the BBC.
Award-winning Heidi Thomas (Cranford, Madame Bovary, Ballet Shoes) is writing two new feature length scripts for transmission on BBC One in 2010.
Set in 1936 in the same iconic house 165 Eaton Place in London's Belgravia, the sumptuous drama is set to delight fans old and new.
Jean Marsh will reprise her role of Rose, the parlourmaid, returning to the house as housekeeper to its new residents, the wealthy and well-connected Holland family.
Heidi Thomas will create a new role for Dame Eileen Atkins.
We rejoin the world of Upstairs Downstairs in the years leading up to the Second World War. Times are changing and servants are no longer cheap and obedient; Rose soon finds she has her work cut out.
Meanwhile, in the wider world, Edward VIII has ascended the throne, fascism is on the rise, and Europe is inching towards catastrophe.
Originally co-created by Jean Marsh, Dame Eileen Atkins and Sagitta Productions, Upstairs Downstairs became one of the most-loved and enduring TV shows of all time.
A huge hit with British and international audiences, it won countless awards, including seven Emmys, two BAFTAs and a Golden Globe.
It has been shown in more than 70 countries worldwide, to an audience of over one billion.
Heidi Thomas says: "I am both thrilled and humbled to have this opportunity.
"The original Upstairs Downstairs marked the start of my love affair with televison, and I am determined that the new version will in every way be a worthy successor to the original."
Piers Wenger, Head of Drama, BBC Wales, adds: "We are delighted to have secured the rights with the full blessing and support of the original co-creators.
"This is not a remake but a completely new version, set in a different era with a whole new cast of characters."
Dame Eileen Atkins says: "I am delighted to have the chance to star in the new version for the BBC.
"Heidi Thomas is an extraordinarily talented writer and it is always a complete joy to work with her."
Jean Marsh said: "I am hugely looking forward to spending time with Rose. I have missed her enormously."
John Whitney, Sagitta Productions, said: "I am delighted the BBC is reviving Upstairs Downstairs and setting it during a time of social change – just as it was when the Bellamys lived at 165."
Upstairs Downstairs will be relaunched as two x 90-minutes in 2010, made in-house by BBC Wales Drama.
Filming begins next Spring. Full casting will be announced next year.
It was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, and Jay Hunt, Controller, BBC One.
The executive producers are Piers Wenger and Heidi Thomas.
Upstairs Downstairs is a co-production with Masterpiece on PBS.
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