I love period dramas & fondly remember Upstairs Downstairs (the original), but more recently I’ve been avidly watching the award winning Downton Abbey. There’s lots of programmes & series made for UK terrestrial TV, but rarely is there something of pure quality.
The storyline is similar to Upstairs Downstairs, following an upper-class family & their servants. Both groups have their life problems & family disputes which draw in the viewer, but there’s also the interaction between the classes. Living so closely together, especially as the servants tended to stay in post for years, they would have been involved in each others’ lives. The loyal servants would have been privy to sensitive information or witness to scandalous events. However, I’m sure the servants’ lives would have been much harder than that portrayed in Downton Abbey, as they do seem to have a fair amount of spare time.
I love the ladies’ fashions of course & the gradual changes from the structured corseted outfits of the Edwardian era, to the softer flapper dresses after the first world war. The change in attitudes is also featured – the beginning of the end of the upstairs downstairs lifestyle.
Although Downton Abbey is set in Yorkshire, it’s filmed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. It’s fascinating to watch behind the scenes documentary, to learn of the fine attention to historical detail & see interviews of the cast & their stories of filming in such a grand location. The present Countess of Carnarvon has also written a book about Lady Almina, the 5th Countess who lived at Highclere at the same time Downton Abbey is set.