Upstairs, Downstairs
Review of
Inside UpDown – The Story of Upstairs, Downstairs

Back in 2000, on seeing the first edition of Richard Marson's book, I wrote: "It's rare that a 'making of' book comes along which is so gloriously detailed as Inside UpDown – The Story of Upstairs, Downstairs. Most are superficially glossy but often seem to be more of a case of 'all chocolate and no nuts' and, although they provide a couple of hours amusing reading, are simply not something you can come back to again and again."

But why the swipe at books which are "superficially glossy"? To be honest, it was a apologetical remark designed to cover the fact that the first edition was, in truth, a long way from being something which anyone would describe as glossy (i.e. "So don't even expect that – let's concentrate on the text.") In fact, looking back at that edition now, it looks more like one of those blue-bound PhD theses that anybody who has done a degree will be familiar with. The text is all there, sure, but as Richard now admits, the fledgling Kaleidoscope Publishing couldn't really do the work justice in presentational terms. On seeing the draft version, I had made a small attempt to desperately bolster the illustrational content myself, by knocking up a few graphical chapter headings for Richard, designed to vaguely mimic the titles on the series.

Now wind on 12 or so years and finally an edition of the book appears (tagged "The Ultimate Edition") which really does manage the lavish look Richard was after in the first place.

But back to basics... The book, running to a hefty 604 pages, is divided into the following chapters:

Chapter One – The Pearl in the Oyster – Genesis and birth of the series.
Chapter Two – Belgravia Bound – Making of Season One.
Chapter Three – The Edwardians – Season One episode guide (with commentary and critique).
Chapter Four – Maid for Life – Jean Marsh (Rose) biography and interview.
Chapter Five – A Second Sitting – Making of Season Two.
Chapter Six – The Turn of the Times – Season Two episode guide (with commentary and critique).
Chapter Seven – Design for Living – Design aspects of the series: sets, costumes, make-up.
Chapter Eight – The Prodigal Son – Simon Williams (James) biography and interview.
Chapter Nine – Changing of the Guard – Making of Season Three.
Chapter Ten – An Indian Summer – Season Three episode guide (with commentary and critique).
Chapter Eleven – A Class Act – John Hawkesworth (producer/co-creator) and Alfred Shaughnessy (script editor) biographies and interviews.
Chapter Twelve – What did you do in the War? – Making of Season Four.
Chapter Thirteen – The Big Show – Season Four episode guide (with commentary and critique).
Chapter Fourteen – A Perfect Gentleman – David Langton (Richard) biography and interview.
Chapter Fifteen – Swan Song – Making of Season Five.
Chapter Sixteen – The Roaring Twenties – Season Five episode guide (with commentary and critique).
Chapter Seventeen – Endings & Beginnings – Aftermath, Beacon Hill, documentaries.
Chapter Eighteen – Two Into One Won't GoThomas & Sarah.
Chapter Nineteen – Curtain Call – Where are they now? on cast and crew, and select filmographies.
Chapter Twenty – A Silent Movie – The proposed 1972 feature film, and full script.
Appendix 1 – Encore – Books, videos and DVDs, awards.
Appendix 2 – Below Stairs – Original 1969 Jean Marsh/Eileen Atkins series' proposal.
Appendix 3 – Christmas, Upstairs, Downstairs – Short story by producer John Hawkesworth.
Appendix 4 – Modern Times – The revamped series (not in book, available as a download from this site – see below).

Given in the book are all the details you'd expect to find, such as full cast lists, transmission dates (UK & US) and filming and recording dates. The text for each episode is very thorough and the sites of all the locations used for the programme's occasional excursions outside the studio are noted and there are extensive quotes from newspaper reviews of the time.

Also included are comments and interviews with just about everybody who has ever been involved with the show (including some who sadly died during the writing of the first edition of the book, such as David "Richard" Langton), and there is a great amount of insight into how the actors approached and tackled their roles.

Text-wise, this new edition is fully revised and brought right up to date. This time around, Richard also managed to bag contributions from a few UpDown survivors who were missed last time, including George Innes (Alfred) and, most importantly, Rex Firkin, the show's executive producer. Picture-wise, there are now nearly 400 photographs, many in colour!

I said of the first edition: "I can honestly say that, without exception, this is the most detailed single book ever published on the making of a TV show." That's still true.

I also said: "... even though I run a website about the show and regard myself as reasonably clued up about Upstairs, Downstairs, I found my knowledge of the programme had increased three-fold since starting to read this work." Well, that comment is now completely out of date... With this new edition, my knowledge has now increased four- or five-fold!

Steve Phillips, January 2012.

Some comments from those who made the series

"It's incredibly impressive. Amazing. I'm actually quite in awe." – Meg Wynn Owen, Hazel.

"A book that really gets under the skin of Upstairs, Downstairs – the mood, the detail and the good times." – Simon Williams, James.

"What a terrific achievement... extensive and meticulous research so carefully put together. It is an invaluable chronicle of the series." – Jacqueline Tong, Daisy.

"It brought back all the good memories. I'm glad others look back at that time with the same warmth that I do." – Evin Crowley, Emily.

"I think it is very good and very fair. Well done, it can't have been easy." – John Hawkesworth, producer.

"Excellent... very true, accurate, well researched and interesting." – Alfred Shaughnessy, script editor.

Inside UpDown – The Story of Upstairs, Downstairs (3rd edition)
Written by Richard Marson
Published in 2011 by Kaleidoscope Publishing, Dudley, UK.
ISBN 13-978-1-900203-37-1

The new edition (and how to get it)

In addition to a much-boosted photographic content (see example pages in this article, click for bigger versions) and a much glossier approach, the new edition also features:

Richard talks more about this new edition in the revised interview with him elsewhere on this site.

The book is available direct from the publishers at: Don't pay the ripoff prices you see it advertised for elsewhere (e.g. Amazon)!

Appendix 4

Appendix 4, Modern Times, dealing with the new series, couldn't be fitted into the finished book due to page-count and pricing considerations. You can instead download it from this site by clicking here (right-click, save... – 26MB).