Saturday 19 Apr 2014
The BBC has announced a stellar line-up of acting talent to accompany Dame Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh in the hugely anticipated revival of the legendary TV series Upstairs Downstairs.
Keeley Hawes (Ashes To Ashes, Spooks), Ed Stoppard (Brideshead Revisited) Anne Reid (Bleak House, Dinnerladies), Claire Foy (Little Dorrit), Adrian Scarborough (Gavin & Stacey, Cranford) and Art Malik (10 Days To War, Holby City) will all be entering through the doors of the iconic 165 Eaton Place. Also joining the cast are Ellie Kendrick (Diary Of Anne Frank) and Nico Mirallegro (Hollyoaks).
Set in 1936, the three, hour-long episodes, to be broadcast on BBC One, will take viewers, old and new, back to the lavish world of Belgravia, London.
A new set of occupants will reside at the iconic address and viewers will see how external and internal influences of the tumultuous pre-war period shape and mould the lives of this wealthy family and their servants.
Upstairs, Keeley Hawes is Lady Agnes Holland, the beautiful, spirited and socially ambitious woman who plans to take society by storm. Her husband and master of the house, diplomat Sir Hallam Holland, has his work cut out keeping the peace between his wife and mother and will be played by Ed Stoppard.
Dame Eileen Atkins will play Maud, Lady Holland – the straight-speaking mother-in-law who causes sparks to fly as soon as she arrives. And Claire Foy plays Lady Persephone – the beautiful, younger sister of Lady Agnes who refuses to adhere to the rules of 165 Eaton Place.
Downstairs, Jean Marsh reprises her role as Rose Buck – and is now the reliable housekeeper. Anne Reid will play Mrs Thackeray, the resident cook, Adrian Scarborough plays the highly strung, teetotal butler, Mr Pritchard and Art Malik plays Mr Amanjit, loyal servant to Maud.
Jay Hunt, Controller, BBC One says: "Upstairs Downstairs is a piece of TV history and this wonderful cast are set to bring it alive for a whole new audience."
The revival has been written by award-winning writer Heidi Thomas (Cranford, Madame Bovary, Ballet Shoes).
Of taking the audience back to 165 Eaton Place, she says: "Bringing 165 Eaton Place back to life has been the greatest honour and privilege of my career. It really is a dream come true for me, and I am thrilled that our actors feel the same."
The original series, created by Jean Marsh and Dame Eileen Atkins in association with Sagitta Productions, was first broadcast in 1971. It was an international success – winning seven Emmys, two Baftas and a Golden Globe.
Jean Marsh says: "This series has been beautifully cast and I was completely enthralled listening to them bring the scripts to life at the read through. I feel very happy and very comfortable – I feel very lucky. For the rest of the cast it was their first episode of Upstairs Downstairs. For me, it was my 56th. I am very much looking forward to the start of filming and I am very much looking forward to returning to 165 Eaton Place."
Made by BBC Cymru Wales Drama, Upstairs Downstairs will begin filming in south Wales in early August.
Piers Wenger, Head of Drama BBC Cymru Wales says: "Upstairs Downstairs is not just one of the most loved and famous series in the history of British television but of television all over the world. Heidi Thomas' scripts have already attracted an irresistible cast, led by Jean Marsh and Dame Eileen Atkins, and I cannot wait to see this peerless drama brought back to life."
Upstairs Downstairs was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, and Jay Hunt, Controller, BBC One.
Executive producers are Piers Wenger, Head of Drama BBC Cymru Wales, Heidi Thomas and Kate Harwood, Controller Drama Series and Serials. It will be directed by Euros Lyn (Torchwood – Children Of Earth, Doctor Who) and produced by Nikki Wilson (Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures).
Upstairs Downstairs is a co-production with Masterpiece on PBS.
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