In another one of those moments where I should have realized I was a Victorianist long before I got to graduate school, when I was a teenager, I use to rent (from an actual video store no less) British t.v. shows from the 1970s and 80s. I started out with The Secret Adversary and the Partners in Crime series from the early 1980s. Both were based off of Agatha Christie mysteries of the same titles and starred James Warwick as the solidly ordinary Tommy and Francesca Annis as the slightly exotic Tuppence. Together, Tommy and Tuppence were a sort of inter-war years crime fighting duo covertly employed by the head of the secret service. I went from that series to other shows and films, notably a series of 1970s and 80s Jane Austen adaptations. I also discovered the first season of Upstairs, Downstairs. Set in a London townhouse, the series moved through first quarter of the twentieth century, using the domestic lens of one upper class house, its family and servants, to explore the social changes of the day. The kind folks over at the BBC (who really need to get on to that paid iPlayer subscription for people in other countries) have commissioned a new series set at the end of the 1930s, before the Second World War. It begins airing stateside on PBS’s Masterpiece Classic on April 10. It’s like the BBC and PBS conspired to give me a slightly belated birthday present. It’ll also keep me going until the ITV airs new episodes of Downton Abbey. I miss Dame Maggie Smith’s biting class opinions: “What’s a weekend?” Still makes me giggle.
At any rate, the blog Tellyspotting has more details on the old series and the new series.
And, as an added bonus, Red Nose Day 2011 (a charity event put on by Comic Relief) did a fantastic parody of Downton Abbey with Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, and Kim Catrall. Oh, and Simon Callow (Mr Beebe from A Room with a View) is absolutely hilarious.