Out of Costume
After Upstairs, Downstairs 2
After Upstairs, Downstairs, some of the actors took on advertising jobs. Jenny Tomasin appeared to plug Goblin vacuum cleaners... (Click picture for a larger version.)
|...Gordon Jackson appeared on TV commercials for Fine Fare, a chain of supermarkets later absorbed by Somerfield/Gateway...|
|...John Alderton and Pauline Collins flogged Maxwell House coffee....|
|...and Jean Marsh – still in her maid's costume – peddled the Sun newspaper.|
The BBC reeled with surprise that a ghastly young popularist ITV company could produce a massive, award-winning period drama, and was amazed that they had the audacity to try in the first place! They were quick to employ the talents of UD's producer, John Hawkesworth, to produce a period drama of their own.
The Duchess of Duke Street told the tale of Louisa Trotter (played by Gemma Jones, below), the larger-than-life owner and hostess of the Bentinck Hotel in London. The series' whole premise was based on the real-life Rosa Lewis and the exclusive Cavendish hotel, which in the early part of the 1900s had become a meeting place for statesmen, artists and aristocrats – in fact just about anybody who was a name in society. John Hawkesworth actually knew Lewis personally: "She was a real old dictator. She was a terrible snob – she would only have people she liked in the hotel, and she used to throw people out. It was a unique, zany kind of place, and when I knew her she was well into her 70s and still spoke with a strong Cockney accent, and used the strongest language you can imagine."
Hawkesworth took across from ITV many of the talents involved that had made
UpDown such a success – writers Jeremy Paul, Rosemary Anne Sisson, and directors Bill Bain, Raymond Menmuir, Cyril Coke and
Simon Langton. The series even sported a theme written by Alexander Faris who, of course, had also written the theme to
The most recognisable faces from UpDown included....
Anthony Andrews (Robert Stockbridge) appeared as Marcus Carrington in
The Hammer studios must have had a fan of Upstairs, Downstairs as a casting director in the early 1980s, as the pair of TV horror anthologies – Hammer House Of Horror (1980) and Hammer House Of Mystery And Suspense (1984/6) – manage to squeeze in five starring appearances from ex members of the UpDown cast:
Simon Williams – The Late Nancy Irving (also pictured, Cristina Raines)
My favourite sequence (unfortunately too murky to grab here) is from Last Video And Testament which features David Langton as the aging owner of an electronics firm who takes a high-tech revenge on his scheming wife. The episode begins and ends with Langton, in full evening dress, literally dancing on her grave, to the accompaniment of a boom box carried by his chauffeur!
Click picture for a larger version.