Ed Stoppard: Upstairs Downstairs and Downton Abbey not rivals

Ed StoppardEd Stoppard has criticised the press for trying to create rivalry between ITV’s Downton Abbey and BBC One’s Upstairs Downstairs.

The actor plays Sir Hallam Holland in BBC One’s revival of Upstairs Downstairs which returns on Sunday for a second season. The new series is set in 1938 during the Sudetenland crisis and the count down to World War Two. The second series see’s Alex Kingston join the cast with confirmed guest stars including Emilia Fox and Sarah Lancashire.

BBC One originally revived Upstairs Downstairs for a three-part series for Christmas 2010 and the press were quick then to compare it to ITV’s Downton Abbey and play on the idea of a big rivalry between the two period shows; something Ed Stoppard is critical of.

“I don’t understand the logic that the jungle can only support one beast. Even if it’s a big beast.  It’s as if EastEnders and Corrie and Emmerdale have never managed to subsist in the same environment.” -Ed Stoppard speaking to the Radio Times

While Downton Abbey and the original series of Upstairs Downstairs (which ran in the 1970s on ITV) have quite a lot in common the BBC revival is a different beast all together. The BBC version of Upstairs Downstairs is set in the late 1930s in the count down to World War Two while Downton Abbey started in the Edwardian period and the third series will chronicle the early 1920s. As well as covering different periods of the 20th century the two shows are all together different in style as well but that doesn’t, of course, stop the press from comparing the two and suggesting they are in competition with each other.

Upstairs Downstairs returns to BBC One on Sunday at 9.30pm