Watch Upstairs, Downstairs
- 5 Seasons
Upstairs, Downstairs is a British television drama set in a townhouse in Belgravia, London, during the Edwardian era and then the interwar period. The series first aired on ITV from 1971-1975 and became an iconic period drama during its run. Acorn Media later released the complete series on DVD.
The show follows the lives of the Bellamy family, who live upstairs in the grand townhouse, and their servants, who make their home downstairs. The Bellamy family includes Richard (David Langton), the patrician head of the family; his wife Marjorie (Rachel Gurney), a society hostess; their son James (Simon Williams), who becomes a diplomat; and daughters Elizabeth (Nicola Pagett) and Georgina (Lesley-Anne Down).
The servants include Hudson (Gordon Jackson), the stern butler; Mrs. Bridges (Angela Baddeley), the cook; Rose (Jean Marsh), the maid; Sarah (Pauline Collins), an under-housemaid who later becomes a housekeeper; and Edward (Christopher Beeny), the footman. Other characters include Lady Prudence Fairfax (Joan Benham), a friend of Marjorie's, and Sarah's love interest, Thomas Watkins (John Alderton).
Upstairs, Downstairs depicts the upstairs and downstairs worlds of a household as two separate and distinct spheres. The lives of the family and their servants are intertwined, yet remain separate. The series explores social themes such as class, wealth, gender roles, and sexuality, and how these issues affect the lives of both the Bellamys and their servants.
The Bellamys are portrayed as privileged and entitled, with their lives defined by social status and conventions. Marjorie is a typical society hostess, obsessed with maintaining appearances, attending luncheons and dinner parties, and keeping up with the latest fashion and gossip. Richard, however, is a more complex character, struggling with the demands of his office and his family, and often torn between duty and his personal desires.
The servants, on the other hand, are shown as dedicated and hardworking, bound by a strict code of duty and loyalty. They are aware of their social status and the limitations imposed on them by their class, but still aspire to a better life. Hudson, as the head of the servant staff, is a strict but fair disciplinarian, committed to maintaining order and routine in the household. Mrs. Bridges is a talented cook, but also a gossip and busybody, while Rose is the pretty and ambitious maid who dreams of a better life.
Over the course of the series, Upstairs, Downstairs covers important historical events such as the sinking of the Titanic, World War I, and the Great Depression. These events impact the lives of the Bellamys and their servants, and the series explores how they adapt to changing times. The series also tackles social issues such as women's suffrage, the rise of the labor movement, and the changing role of women in society.
Throughout its run, Upstairs, Downstairs was praised for its historical accuracy, attention to detail, and strong performances from its cast. It won numerous awards, including seven Emmys and a Golden Globe. Its popularity led to a revival in the 2010s, with a new version of the series airing in 2010 and 2012.
Overall, Upstairs, Downstairs remains a classic British period drama, offering a fascinating glimpse into the lives of rich and poor during the early twentieth century. Its richly drawn characters, compelling storylines, and superb production values make it a must-watch for fans of historical drama.
Upstairs, Downstairs is a series that is currently running and has 5 seasons (69 episodes). The series first aired on April 24, 2011.