DIANNE BUT­LER OUT OF THE BOX

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Saturday -

THERE’S a lot of talk on­line about which came first and who’s rip­ping who off — Down­ton Abbey or this lat­est Up­stairs Down­stairs, and did Ju­lian Fel­lowes bor­row from the orig­i­nal Up­stairs Down­stairs, or what?

And do we care, is what I want to know. It’s rough when a per­son can’t come up with their own ma­te­rial, but it’s not like we haven’t seen this sort of thing be­fore from a tele­vi­sion show. What we need to mainly know, as view­ers, is the show much chop? I found Down­ton Abbey self-con­scious, and a tiny bit hu­mour­less, my least favourite qual­ity of all time. Whereas the first thing that struck me about this new Up­stairs Down­stairs was its sparkle. It isn’t a re­make per se. Jean Marsh was one of the cre­ators of the old one and she also played Rose the par­lour­maid. The way into this new one is Rose is ap­proached by Sir Hal­lam Hol­land (Ed Stop­pard) and his wife, Lady Agnes (Kee­ley Hawes), the new own­ers of 165 Ea­ton Place — where the Bel­lamys used to live — to help them find staff.

They’re go­ing to be do­ing a lot of en­ter­tain­ing, Hal­lam’s in the for­eign ser­vice, and so they need the fol­low­ing: a but­ler, with som­me­lier ex­pe­ri­ence, of course, a house­keeper, a par­lour­maid, chauf­feur/manser­vant, a pantry­boy/foot­man/ kitchen­maid and the best cook go­ing. Rose, it tran­spires, didn’t get a pen­sion out of the grand Bel­lamys, af­ter 40 years of ser­vice. Got a nice teapot though. Not quite the same thing. Turns out it’s harder get­ting the staff than ei­ther Rose or the Hol­lands imag­ined — it’s 1936, or there­abouts, and the only thing on the grow is fas­cism. Hal­lam’s mother ar­rives tonight, her tead­rink­ing mon­key Solomon and In­dian sec­re­tary in tow.

Last they heard she was in Tang­iers, but she’d only ended up staying three days. ‘‘ It was full of the Bri­tish win­ter­ing and that sours a place like noth­ing else.’’ Up­stairs Down­stairs UKTV, 8.30pm

New own­ers: Lady Agnes and Sir Hal­lam Hol­land.

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