BBC revives Upstairs, Downstairs

The critically acclaimed and award-winning drama series Upstairs, Downstairs is to be revived by the BBC. The period drama originally ran on ITV between 1970 and 1975 and was produced for the network by the LWT franchise. The drama told the story of the Bellamy family and their servants who lived at 165 Eaton Place and covered the late Edwardian period, the Great War, the Swinging 20’s and finally the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the economic depression that followed. Original actress Jean Marsh, who co-created the series alongside Eileen Atkins, will reprise her role of parlourmaid Rose.

LWTThe 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. 

“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.” – Heidi Thomas

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. 

“I am hugely looking forward to spending time with Rose. I have missed her enormously.” – Jean Marsh. 

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. 

“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.”- Piers Wenger, Head of Drama, BBC Wales


“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.” – Dame Eileen Atkins


“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.” – John Witney, Sagitta Productions 

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.