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Old 01-01-2014, 13:38
Diane_Rob
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I admit it, when they revived it (2010 I think, then it returned for the second series in 2012) I wasn't keen on it. I hadn't even seen the originals but after watching the first episode I gave up on it. However I've just been rewatching Series 1 (which was only three episodes) on TV channel 'Drama' and this is a really good & strong series.

I've already seen series two and in my opinion it is better than 'Downton Abbey', which is what the show suffered comparisons with at the time. Downton was brilliant in series 1/2 but lately it's kind of becoming a shadow of itself with the influx of new characters and exits of memorable ones (anyway this isn't a Downton debate). But the revived 'Upstairs Downstairs' was really refreshing and is definitely something I recommend people give a second chance to (second viewing I mean).

The characters were really good and the cast was excellent also, Eileen Atkins, Keeley Hawes, Anne Reid etc.

Also, the Series two final episode is one of the most gripping episodes I've seen from UK drama in years! Utterly brilliant.

Let's not forget this is the same writers who now produce 'Call The Midwife'...
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Old 01-01-2014, 13:45
performingmonk
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Let's not forget this is the same writers who now produce 'Call The Midwife'...
I think there you have your answer for why Upstairs Downstairs didn't continue. The BBC were looking for a safe success to be their own Downton. Call The Midwife was it. Upstairs Downstairs didn't get the popularity they were looking for, and it cost quite a bit to produce too.
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Old 01-01-2014, 13:55
vauxhall1964
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of course the BBC gave it a chance. It was launched with great fanfare over the Christmas period at time when it had the chance of attracting a huge audience. It flopped because, unlike Midwife, the two leads were not very likeable characters...the husband in particular. The downstairs staff weren't much more appealing and with Downton and its very sympathetic upstairs and downstairs characters already established, the viewers rightly decided there was no reason to make room for a similar, but less entertaining, drama (regardless of which show had come first).
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Old 01-01-2014, 14:58
ravensborough
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I liked Upstairs Downstairs and enjoyed its second series far more than the last few seasons of Downton. I enjoyed the fact that history seemed an integral part of the story, as opposed to Downton whereby history always seems like an afterthought and I really love Lady Persephone.

I think the problems with the show - the long shadow of Downton aside - was that the show, other than Jean Marsh, had next to no connection to the original series. I think it would have been far better if a distant relation of the Bellamy family would have inherited 165 Eaton Place and retained that connection to the original.

I love Heidi Thomas' work and really enjoyed Upstairs, Downstairs, but I do think that Call the Midwife's success might have made it far easier to get rid of UD which wasn't rating anywhere near as well as CTM.
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Old 01-01-2014, 19:01
Diane_Rob
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I love Lady Persophone too, her character is so interesting. Brilliant character
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Old 02-01-2014, 22:32
woot_whoo
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It definitely deserved a third series - the BBC simply wasn't happy that it lost viewers from its initial (mini) run of three episodes. I actually thought the second series was far stronger than the first trio of shows. It was darker and more political than Downton Abbey - maybe people just prefer soapier period dramas. AFAIK, it still did pretty well for its timeslot even in the second series - the figures just weren't as good as the first lot.

That said, I do know it was beset by backstage problems, from Eileen Atkins' departure to Jean Marsh having to be written out for much of the series due to illness. If these problems hadn't resulted in the delay of over a year before the second series airing, it would have done better. People just seemed to forget about it after it was debuted to much fanfare and then disappeared from the airwaves for well over a year.
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Old 02-01-2014, 22:36
Pierson
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I love Heidi Thomas' work and really enjoyed Upstairs, Downstairs, but I do think that Call the Midwife's success might have made it far easier to get rid of UD which wasn't rating anywhere near as well as CTM.
Absolutely. It would have been impossible for Thomas to work on both full-time, so it made sense to let Upstairs Downstairs go in order to give Call The Midwife the attention in needed following the huge success of its first series.
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Old 02-01-2014, 22:48
woot_whoo
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I know that the story given out was the Eileen Atkins quit the second series due to her apparently "not liking the direction in which the series was going". I wonder what that means. I can't think of anything particularly objectionable in either series of the "sequel".

She and Jean Marsh had something of a fall-out (or loss of closeness, maybe) in real life, according to the tabloids. I wonder if that's the real reason she left the show...
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Old 02-01-2014, 23:10
Brian Reynolds
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I think that it failed because of comparisons with the original series which was recorded like studio plays - no intrusive background music, better stories (each complete in themselves, but in chronological order) better character development and less cluttered storylines. Bearing in mind that Eileen Atkins (together with Jean Marsh) conceived the original format, she must have been disappointed with how different it was. Even the sets within 165 Eaton Place bore only a vague resemblance to the original. As a huge fan of the original series, I was very diappointed with the revival.
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Old 03-01-2014, 06:58
BritFlicks1
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Eileen Atkins's departure and Jean Marsh's ill health in series 2 didn't help.
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Old 03-01-2014, 08:18
mossy2103
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I wasn't too enamoured with S1, but S2 was indeed much darker, and was setting itself apart from the original, and Downton Abbey.

Not for the first time in recent years has the BBC seemingly caved in to ratings, whereas some years ago it would have persevered and nurtured the series whilst allowing the show (and its viewing figures) to improve.
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Old 03-01-2014, 09:01
Diane_Rob
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I personally don't think that the updated version being more glossier and not in a tin set has anything to do with it, if they were to have revived it that way, it wouldn't have worked because we're just in a different day and age now, people naturally expect high quality, big sets etc. The revived UD was actually beautiful to look at with the scenary etc.

I do wonder if maybe in a few years they could try again, link it from the end of series two but maybe not have Keeley Hawes and some other cast members back, jump a few years to a new heir. It does deserve a second shot.

I thought the best character really was Agnes's sister, Lady Persephone. She was just so complex and interesting to watch, brilliant actress.
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Old 03-01-2014, 14:28
Diane_Rob
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Okay and now Drama have just stopped showing UD after two episodes, unless that was the original plan

DVDs out..
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Old 03-01-2014, 14:35
clara28
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I really enjoyed the Upstairs Downstairs revival. A far superior production to the soapy Downton. Much darker too, especially that last scene with Lady Persephone.

But the BBC are only interested in competing with ITV and chasing viewing figures, oddly since they're not a commercial channel, and cut many good programmes in their prime e.g. The Hour and my personal favourite Ripper Street.
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Old 03-01-2014, 14:49
Eurostar
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I really enjoyed the Upstairs Downstairs revival. A far superior production to the soapy Downton. Much darker too, especially that last scene with Lady Persephone.

But the BBC are only interested in competing with ITV and chasing viewing figures, oddly since they're not a commercial channel, and cut many good programmes in their prime e.g. The Hour and my personal favourite Ripper Street.
Yes, the new Upstairs Downstairs was very much a genuine period drama compared to the soap opera style Downton Abbey. It's a pity we didn't get a third series as it was very watchable.
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Old 03-01-2014, 20:33
Groundhogal
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Never been a fan of Downton but I loved this new Upstairs, Downstairs. Not having a strong enough connection to the original was probably it's biggest mistake. Nice to see so many people on here, who's favourite character was Lady Persie too. Anybody know what Claire Foy is up to now? Not seen her on tv for more than a year.
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Old 03-01-2014, 20:38
sn_22
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Eileen Atkins's departure and Jean Marsh's ill health in series 2 didn't help.
Indeed. The whole project just felt a little bit cursed. I can see why they decided to cut their losses with it.

That said, I did enjoy some of the more political elements - it felt a lot meatier than at least the last couple of series of Downton.
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Old 03-01-2014, 20:56
Diane_Rob
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Another point well made was how Lady Persie was quite a favourite, and her suicide was amazingly done, so obviously in the third seris it would've been a loss without her.

(have I just spoilt it for people or can we speak about that now?!)
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Old 03-01-2014, 22:48
Creamtea
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I really enjoyed the new Upstairs, Downstaris too. Had a brilliant cast of great actors, all of whom got a turn to shine. It was darker than DA, and more rooted in political dramas of the time, Lady Percy defecting to Germany etc. I really don't understand why it wasn't given a third series.
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Old 04-01-2014, 04:49
woot_whoo
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Another point well made was how Lady Persie was quite a favourite, and her suicide was amazingly done, so obviously in the third seris it would've been a loss without her.

(have I just spoilt it for people or can we speak about that now?!)
Yes, I think Lady Persephone was a great character but, like the old series, I thought the downstairs cast was the best. How much could have been done in WWII with the pacifist butler (Adrian Scarborough) and Mrs Thackeray (Anne Reid), the cook! I do hope the BBC's decision to discontinue the series didn't weigh too heavily on Jean Marsh.
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Old 04-01-2014, 08:50
Sambda
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Several reasons why it failed:

1) It tried to be too big, too fast. The original stories were little pot-boilers on how events affected a few characters who we knew well. That's what people were expecting, not "big" plots. "Downton" (the early ones, at least) were very low-key. From "UD", people expected a more claustrophobic atmosphere (as is living in a house like that).

2) Needed more character development. Too many plot strands, not enough characterisation. The obvious box-ticking (e.g. homosexuality, disability) annoyed some people.

3) It had a pedigree (unlike "Downton") - the media were waiting for it to "not be as good" as the original.

4) Behind-the-scene bust up with Eileen Atkins. I mean, when one of the creators of it seems to be thinking it ain't much good...

5) And, quite simply, "Downton" had already stolen the thunder on reviving the servants/masters period-drama thing. Almost pointless to have another one. Had the "UD" revival been the first one, I think it would have lasted longer.
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Old 10-01-2014, 15:46
Diane_Rob
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But what have any of the cast members said since it's axe? Have any bemoaned it?

If it was as tense on set I mean..
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Old 10-01-2014, 16:09
woot_whoo
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But what have any of the cast members said since it's axe? Have any bemoaned it?

If it was as tense on set I mean..
I've only heard that Jean Marsh has said she was disappointed that it was axed but doesn't regret bringing it back. She blames the timing of it (and she's right). The sad thing is that it was in the pipeline for years before it finally appeared.
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Old 10-01-2014, 18:47
Busy_Lizzie
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Upstairs Downstairs is my favourite show of all time and it should not have been revived, as it was impossible to re-create or improve on it.
The new series only shared the name and nothing else!
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Old 10-01-2014, 21:44
Diane_Rob
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I still loved the revived version, I think like others said, because it was a continuation or revival of the original, it was under constant comparison.
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