Dame Eileen Atkins quits Upstairs Downstairs

Upstairs Downstairs actress Dame Eileen Atkins has pulled out of the second series after becoming unhappy with the scripts.

Atkins along with co-star Jean Marsh co-created Upstairs Downstairs in the early 1970s, with the original programme produced for ITV by London Weekend Television between 1971 and 1975, although only Marsh appeared in the original version.

Dame Eileen was one of the key cast for the revival of the series on the BBC last year and became one of the most popular characters with viewers. The actress however has become increasingly unhappy with the direction the writers were taking her character within the new episodes and decided to pull out without recording a departure. Lady Holland will not feature in any of the forthcoming episodes and is expected to be killed off, off screen.

A BBC statement says: “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.”

Upstairs Downstairs is based in a London townhouse, 165 Eaton Place, with storylines revolving around the wealthy owners and equally their lower level servants. The LWT series covered the years 1912 to 1930 with the BBC carrying on the series from 1936. Jean Marsh is the only actress to appear in both the ITV and BBC productions.

The second BBC series will start filming in October for broadcast in 2012. Six episodes have been commissioned for BBC One.