Upstairs Downstairs: Together At Last

Eileen and Jean

“WE have experience, you and I.

“We are what that house requires.”

Two women of advancing years sitting together on a park bench.

Providing one of the most poignant TV moments of 2010.

Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh had the original idea for Upstairs Downstairs in the summer of 1969 – 41 years ago.

Including roles for themselves as two housemaids.

The subsequent ITV series ran for 68 episodes between 1971 and 1975 and starred Jean as parlour maid Rose Buck.

But Eileen was too busy with theatre work to ever appear in the drama she co-created.

Until last night.

Finally together in Upstairs Downstairs with her lifelong friend Jean.

As now housekeeper Rose Buck and Maud, Lady Holland, played by Eileen, discussed 165 Eaton Place on a bench by the pond.

The first episode of BBC1’s revival attracted a healthy 7.6m viewers.

With part two at 9pm tonight (Mon Dec 27) and the third and final episode at the same time tomorrow night.

Jean and Eileen were born in the east end of London 76 years ago.

Both very much working class, despite – now Dame – Eileen later losing her accent in order to play a series of “upstairs” acting roles.

You can read more about both them and this sequel via the link below.

Upstairs Downstairs: BFI Screening

Follow Ian Wylie on Twitter