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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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Upstairs Downstairs – introduction

L-R: Harry Spargo (Neil Jackson), Rose Buck (Jean Marsh), Mrs Thackeray (Anne Reid), Johnny Proude (Nico Mirallegro), Ivy Morris (Ellie Kendrick) and Mr Amanjit (Art Malik)

The wreath above the mantelpiece is furred with dust. The chandelier is festooned with cobwebs. Then a key turns in the lock – and a handsome millionaire walks in, with the woman he loves in his arms... This Christmas, BBC One invites viewers old and new across the threshold of television's most famous address – 165 Eaton Place – in a new series of Upstairs Downstairs.

Set in 1936, this lavish three-part serial sees diplomat Sir Hallam Holland (Ed Stoppard) move into the iconic townhouse along with his wife, Lady Agnes (Keeley Hawes). With the help of former parlourmaid Rose Buck (Jean Marsh), they launch a new whole new era for the sumptuous home at the heart of Upstairs Downstairs.

As Lady Agnes remarks: "This house is going to see such life!"

But storm clouds are gathering in Europe, and servants are no longer biddable and cheap. The Hollands' first year at Eaton Place does not unfold as either Lady Agnes or Rose anticipates.

The drama that results sets exquisite domestic detail against a sweeping historical backdrop. There may be two families living in 165 – one upstairs and one down – but their fates are intimately linked. Touching, funny, romantic and savage, the revived Upstairs Downstairs is set to enrapture a whole new audience.

Piers Wenger, Head of Drama BBC Cymru Wales, says: "I am immensely proud of how the team has responded to the challenge of reviving Upstairs Downstairs. Heidi's sparkling scripts and the magnificent cast have brought a fresh new dynamic to the world of Eaton Place. The result is an explosive, hilarious and compelling saga. No-one should miss a moment of it."

The original series of Upstairs Downstairs was a worldwide sensation, and the show is still known and loved in 70 different countries. Its countless awards include seven Emmys, two Baftas and a Golden Globe.

In 2010, a stellar line-up of acting talent joins original series creators Dame Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh, in the highly anticipated revival of this legendary series. The three hour-long episodes have been written by award-winning Heidi Thomas (Cranford, I Capture The Castle, Ballet Shoes).

Keeley Hawes (Ashes To Ashes, Spooks) Ed Stoppard (Brideshead Revisited), Anne Reid (Bleak House, Dinnerladies), Claire Foy (Little Dorrit), Adrian Scarborough (Gavin & Stacey, Cranford), Art Malik (Jewel In The Crown, Holby City), Ellie Kendrick (Diary Of Anne Frank), Nico Mirallegro (Hollyoaks, Moving On) and Neil Jackson (Flash Forward) all star.

Made by BBC Cymru Wales Drama, Upstairs Downstairs was filmed primarily in south Wales. The exterior location for 165 Eaton Place was filmed in Leamington Spa.

Executive Producers are Piers Wenger (Head of Drama, BBC Cymru Wales) Heidi Thomas, Kate Harwood (Controller of BBC Drama Series and Serials) and Rebecca Eaton of US broadcaster WGBH.

Episodes one and two are directed by Euros Lyn (Torchwood – Children Of Earth, Doctor Who) and Episode Three by Saul Metzstein (Micro Men). The producer is Nikki Wilson (Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures).

Upstairs Downstairs is a co-production with Masterpiece on PBS.


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