The runaway success of Downton Abbey, ITV's award-winning period drama, has left residents of 165 Eaton Place brooding - both upstairs and downstairs. Now the BBC has unveiled a revamped and - as Downton's Dowager Countess of Grantham might say - rather racy revival of one of television's biggest hits, featuring an appearance by John F Kennedy and a lesbian romance.
Upstairs Downstairs, the story of the "upstairs" masters and their below-stairs servants, was hugely popular when its 68 episodes aired on ITV over five series between 1971 and 1975.
The show returned briefly on BBC1 at Christmas 2010, introducing Keeley Hawes as Lady Agnes and Ed Stoppard as her diplomat husband, but was soon outdone by Downton. The BBC's plans to come back with a six-part series then hit serious trouble when Eileen Atkins, the co-creator of the 1971 original with actress Jean Marsh, quit because she was reportedly unhappy with the direction of her character, Lady Holland. Marsh, 77, who reprised her role as maid Rose Buck, then suffered a stroke. Scripts were rewritten before Marsh's recovery gave her a reduced role.