All right Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up

10 April 2011

Return to Eaton Place

  "This house is going to see such life! Lady Agnes Holland

Tonight the laptop will be closed-no email, no phone calls...tonight I have an appointment to return to Eaton Place-165 Eaton Place to be precise.  As part of this lovely 40th anniversary season of Masterpiece Theatre, Masterpiece will air the loooong overdue sequel to Upstairs Downstairs. Created by the original creators Jean Marsh, who reprises her role as the cornerstone of the downstairs staff Rose, and Eileen Atkins who will portray the new family's matriarch Lady Maud, The new series of Upstairs Downstairs begins in 1936  as the new family- The Hollands- move into Eaton Place.
Production Designer Eve Stewart's sketches for 165 Eaton Place
The beloved old home  has been neglected and requires a restoration to not only restore it to its gracious glory but also to bring it up to the standards and needs of the new family and the new age.  For that task Masterpiece turned to Eve Stewart,nominated for an Academy Award for her work on The King's Speech, to take on the daunting task of recreating a beloved address, painstakingly getting all the architectural and ornamental details just so at this Georgian style home so many remember. The home after all is at the center of the drama, arguably the main character, and other than Rose the only character to return from the original series-The main hall and chandelier bring viewers instantly back to familiar surroundings. 

At the same time the set needed to be designed to reflect the style and  characters of the new young family in a very different world than the Bellamy family lived in-lavish and opulent for Lady Agnes upstairs and  proper bell and calling system for downstairs.  Ms. Stewart created a bird motif throughout the house because  she "... felt that all the young people were like little birds trapped in this gilded cage, whether they're the posh birds at the top or the common little sparrows, they're all kind of fluttering around and making nests for themselves."  I for one am pleased to be invited back to this nest. 

The new series of Upstairs Downstairs premiers tonight  on PBS for three episodes..and there will be another season!!  Check your local listings and you can also watch on line beginning tomorrow.