I suppose I should begin by confessing that I was never particularly interested in Upstairs, Downstairs. I am sure it was a great asset for Public Television back when they were still committed to running programs of substance, instead of the current lowest-common-denominator nostalgic fluff. However, my tastes tended more towards John Galsworthy and Anthony Trollope; and the video documents of staged performances were already taking a fair chunk of my time.
My wife, on the other hand, was hooked on that series; and that meant that she really wanted see Downton Abbey. Since she was traveling when it aired here, I saved all the episodes on our VTR; and we covered the entirety in relatively short order after she returned. I thought it had a few interesting sharp edges; but, on the whole, I found it a bit too slick and occasionally self-indulgent. I almost felt that it had been driven by a marketing plan rather than a narrative one.
I am therefore happy to report that, at least on the other side of the pond, the British are going to give this contrivance a bit of come-uppance. Here is how the plan was reported in today’s Telegraph:
The American actress Kim Cattrall, best known for playing Samantha in Sex and the City, will join forces with Comic Relief veterans Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders, Victoria Wood for the spoof.
Harry Enfield, Tim Vine, Dale Winton, Simon Callow will also take part in the irreverent take on the popular drama about life above and below stairs in the Edwardian era.
Victoria Wood plays “Mrs Crawler” and Joanna Lumley the housekeeper figure. The sketch will apparently reveal how much of a flirt Lady Mary really is, and whether Thomas the dastardly second footman is as catty off camera as he is on it.
The photograph accompanying this story is definitely worth viewing, particularly to see Kim Cattrall in “full character.” My only regret is that we shall probably not get to see this production over here.