Scheduled for Boxing Day (26 December) on BBC One, with parts two and three to follow the next two days, UK viewers don’t have long to wait before we return to 165 Eaton Place (U.S. premiere is set for April 10, 2011 on Masterpiece Classic). On the surface, the challenge of bringing back perhaps the most well-known classic serial drama in the history of the BBC was a daunting one, to say the least. A task that the BBC definitely did not take lightly from the outset, as evidenced by the particulars involved in the production on both sides of the camera.
First, Jean Marsh and Dame Eileen Atkins, who came up with the original concept for the series that premiered on LWT some 40 years ago in 1971, will both appear in the new version that stars Keeley Hawes (Spooks, Ashes to Ashes). Second, Heidi Thomas, generally considered at the top when it comes to British TV drama, and is responsible for the brilliant scripts for the award-winning BBC production, Cranford, has scripted Upstairs Downstairs and, third, the continued usage of surrounding the storyline with real-world history of the times. As the original series centered around the First World War, the new inhabitants of 165 Eaton Place are facing such events as the death of King George V and the onslaught of Mussolini. As Marsh states, “…One tries to echo what’s going on in the house in a domestic way with what’s going on in the big world.”
Rose (Jean Marsh) returns to 165 Eaton Place
If you’re in the UK and get a chance to see 26-28 December, let us know this side of the pond what to expect come April 2011 on PBS. Happy holidays and happy viewing.