When Jean Marsh and Dame Eileen Atkins revived the classic 70’s series Upstairs, Downstairs for the BBC back in 2011, unfortunately, it failed to survive partly due to the inevitable comparisons that both viewers and critics made with their rival costume drama Downton Abbey. Sadly, and a bit unfairly, it was given the boot after two series and only nine episodes.
Armed with the understanding of Einstein’s definition of insanity, that of ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’, and determined to avoid the possibility of lightning striking twice in the same place, Marsh, who co-created Upstairs, Downstairs, is working on a new version of The House of Eliott, the BBC drama from the 90’s about two sisters who set up their own haute couture fashion house in the Twenties.
This time, however, according to Marsh, she will make sure that the drama is set in a different period to Downton Abbey. Speaking at a reception at the English Speaking Union in Mayfair, Marsh said, “I want to bring House of Eliott back. We would like to set it in the 40’s and 50’s rather than the 1920’s. That way we would be a couple of decades ahead of Downton and wouldn’t have to worry about comparisons. Everyone always compares period dramas.”
Dame Eileen Atkins echoed Marsh’s sentiments recently saying, “I happen to think that The House of Eliott would be far more relevant today as it is about a fashion house and it is that world which people still find very interesting today. I see a much greater potential there for success and hope others will agree.”
They should know. Like Upstairs Downstairs, Marsh and Atkins created and wrote both the original House of Eliott along with the original Upstairs Downstairs and the remake some 40 years later. My money is on the new House of Eliott getting a successful makeover. You?