Upstairs Downstairs (2010-12)

Claire Foy is playing Lady Persephone Towyn (series regular)

Upstairs DownstairsTV Premiere: UK: December 26, 2010 on BBC1 / US: April 11, 2011 on PBS Masterpiece
DVD Release: UK: February 7, 2011 / US: April 26, 2011
Created by: Heidi Thomas
Starring:

Series 1: Jean Marsh, Eileen Atkins, Ed Stoppard, Keeley Hawes and Claire Foy
Series 2: Jean Marsh, Ed Stoppard, Keeley Hawes, Claire Foy, Alex Kingston, Kenneth Cranham, Laura Haddock, Michael Landes


Based Upon: 1970's TV Series
Genre: Period Drama
Runtime: 60 minutes per episode
Rating: UK: PG / US: Not Rated



Plot Outline

When the master of 165 Eaton Place, Sir Hallam Holland, carries his wife across the threshold of their new home, Lady Agnes exclaims with pleasure, “What a ghastly old mausoleum!” Neglect has strewn cobwebs everywhere and furred the surfaces with dust. But with a sumptuous renovation and the help of the indomitable housekeeper Rose Buck (Jean Marsh), the iconic address so beloved in the original series Upstairs Downstairs is soon restored to its former glory.

It’s 1936, a tumultuous time in Britain, and within the walls of 165 Eaton Place, characters from an orphanage, a damp Welsh castle, the heart of the British Raj and elsewhere together will face a changing world, not just upstairs and downstairs, but side by side.

Claire's Role

Lady Persie (Lady Persephone Towyn) is the younger sister of Lady Agnes.

Ravishing but gauche, she was marooned in Wales until the age of 20, due to lack of family funds – a situation Lady Agnes was delighted to reverse. But Lady Persie’s lack of education and the stimulation of the London scene made for a combustible mix. She rapidly became involved in Fascist politics, a fascination shared with chauffeur Harry Spargo. But whilst his commitment waned, hers continued after he ended their illicit affair.

Having made a life for herself in Nazi Germany, Lady Persie is reluctant to return to Britain as the countries prepare for war, despite her sister’s concern. But when Lady Persie is forced to call on Sir Hallam’s help, their relationship evolves into something clandestine, compelling and deeply dangerous.

Episodes featuring Claire Foy

A Faraway Country About Which We Know Nothing (2.01 - Aired on February 19, 2012)
Directed by Marc Jobst
Written by Heidi Thomas
Additional Episode Cast

Adrian Scarborough, Art Malik, Blake Ritson, Neil Jackson, Nico Mirallegro, Ami Metcalf


Synopsis

As 165 Eaton Place reopens its doors, two new arrivals make their mark. But whilst Sir Hallam’s forthright aunt Blanche disrupts life upstairs, feisty new maid Beryl struggles to adjust to life in service. Meanwhile, Lady Agnes’ concern for her children reveals a dark secret about Mr Pritchard. Sir Hallam’s preoccupation with burgeoning Nazi Germany leads him into dangerous waters, and a chance meeting with an unexpected face unlocks a hidden desire within

A Perfect Specimen of Womanhood (2.03 - Aired on March 4, 2012)
Directed by Anthony Byrne
Written by Heidi Thomas
Additional Episode Cast

Adrian Scarborough, Art Malik, Blake Ritson, Neil Jackson, Nico Mirallegro, Ami Metcalf, Emilia Fox


Synopsis

Blanche comes face to face with her former lover when a scandalous novel is published and, when the passion between the pair reignites, begins to consider a life away from Eaton Place. Downstairs, Beryl’s decision to take a stand causes serious ructions to the running of the house until a familiar face offers wise words. Meanwhile, when Lady Persie reveals a shocking secret to Sir Hallam, the pair get ever closer as Persie is forced to make a life changing decision about her future.

All the Things You Are (2.04 - Aired on March 11, 2012)
Directed by Brendan Maher
Written by Steve Thompson
Additional Episode Cast

Adrian Scarborough, Art Malik, Blake Ritson, Neil Jackson, Nico Mirallegro, Ami Metcalf


Synopsis

Harry’s desire to impress Beryl leads him and Johnny into the world of boxing and, as their big fight draws ever closer, the boys are determined to reign victorious. Upstairs, as she and Sir Hallam drift further apart, Lady Agnes is reacquainted with a familiar face who shows her an exciting world away from 165 Eaton Place; and Sir Hallam makes a dangerous decision which will change his life forever.

The Last Waltz (2.05 - Aired on March 18, 2012)
Directed by Brendan Maher
Written by Debbie O'Malley
Additional Episode Cast

Sarah Lancashire, Adrian Scarborough, Art Malik, Blake Ritson, Neil Jackson, Nico Mirallegro, Ami Metcalf


Synopsis

As 165 Eaton Place prepares for the Annual Servants’ Ball, Mr Pritchard enjoys a romance with fellow servant Miss Whisset, and starts to wonder if there is more to life than service. With war looming, Harry has a proposition for Beryl; however, a shock revelation threatens to thwart their plans. Meanwhile, as Lady Persie and Sir Hallam continue their dangerous affair, Sir Hallam is about to discover just how destructive his actions have been.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow (2.06 - Aired on March 25, 2012)
Directed by Anthony Byrne
Written by Heidi Thomas
Additional Episode Cast

Adrian Scarborough, Neil Jackson, Art Malik, Blake Ritson, Nico Mirallegro, Ami Metcalf, Ken Bones, Steven Elder, Sarah Gordy, David Phelan, Peter Stark, James Staddon


Synopsis

On the eve of war, Beryl and Harry face a race against time to get married. Meanwhile, Mr Pritchard makes a decision which throws the running of the house into chaos, until an old face lends a helping hand. And as Lady Agnes returns to London, a dark discovery has explosive consequences for all inside Eaton Place and changes the landscape forever.

The Cuckoo (1.03 - Aired on December 28, 2010)
Directed by Saul Metzstein
Written by Heidi Thomas
Additional Episode Cast

Anne Reid, Art Malik, Adrian Scarborough, Neil Jackson, Ellie Kendrick, Nico Mirallegro, Blake Ritson, Anthony Calf, Edward Baker-Duly, Alexia James, Jemma Churchill, Christopher Harper, Richard Teverson, Emily Bowker, Sarah Gordy


Synopsis

Sir Hallam finds himself at the centre of a national crisis when his friend, the Duke of Kent, asks for help. Meanwhile, storm clouds are gathering within 165 Eaton Place, with Lady Agnes’s growing fear over the imminent arrival of her baby, and the servants’ concern for Lotte, who refuses to speak. But, as the king finally abdicates, Hallam makes a discovery that will change his life forever.

The Fledgling (1.01 - Aired on December 26, 2010)
Directed by Euros Lyn
Written by Heidi Thomas
Additional Episode Cast

Anne Reid, Art Malik, Adrian Scarborough, Neil Jackson, Ellie Kendrick, Nico Mirallegro, Blake Ritson, Anthony Eden, Anthony Calf, Emma Clifford, Edward Baker-Duly, Caroline O’Neill, Sadie Shimmin, Jack Bannell


Synopsis

Sir Hallam Holland and his beautiful wife Lady Agnes inherit a dilapidated 165 Eaton Place, and set about restoring the house to its full glory. Former housemaid Rose Buck finds herself back in the house where she was happiest, but the arrival of an unwelcome guest puts a strain on relations, both upstairs and down.

The Ladybird (1.02 - Aired on December 27, 2010)
Directed by Euros Lyn
Written by Heidi Thomas
Additional Episode Cast

Anne Reid, Art Malik, Adrian Scarborough, Neil Jackson, Ellie Kendrick, Helen Bradbury, Anthony Calf, Sarah Crowden, Ian Barritt, Alexia James


Synopsis

With no sign of a thaw in relations between Lady Agnes and Maud, Hallam finds his diplomatic skills put to the test at home as well as at work. The servants are intrigued by a mysterious new addition to the household, while a restless Lady Persie embarks on a dangerous flirtation, and is drawn to the thrill of radical politics.

The Love that Pays the Price (2.02 - Aired on February 26, 2012)
Directed by Marc Jobst
Written by Heidi Thomas
Additional Episode Cast

Adrian Scarborough, Art Malik, Blake Ritson, Neil Jackson, Nico Mirallegro, Ami Metcalf


Synopsis

Lady Agnes catches the eye of charismatic American millionaire Caspar Landry but, as she and Sir Hallam look to their future, a tragic turn of events leaves their promised dreams – and a close family member – in jeopardy. Downstairs, Mrs Thackeray makes a momentous decision, which throws the running of the house into chaos. Blanche and Mr Amanjit continue to clash, until a heart-breaking cause compels them to reconsider their differences.

External Links

Trivia

Filming Locations: Leamington Spa, UK

• Bird motifs are used throughout the 2010 series in the costumes, paintings decorating the sets, and on china and wallpaper patterns, to echo the bird theme employed in the three episode titles: “The Fledgling”, “The Ladybird” and “The Cuckoo”.

Quotes from Claire

She’s Agnes’s sister, you don’t learn much about her in the first episode, but she’s brought to London from Wales to do the whole social thing and when she arrives she’s very uncouth. But that stays with Persie throughout the whole thing, she doesn’t conform in anyway, not deliberately, she just wants excitement and parties.

She loves herself. And I love her too very dearly. Apart from fascism. She just does what makes her happy and doesn’t really see why everyone else has a problem with it. But people have lots of problems with lots of things that she does in this series. Literally she does everything that’s possible to do, wrong.

I get to play a complete loony. People hate her but I think she’s amazing. I love her. I’d quite like to be her friend – discounting the fascist bit, obviously. There’s no excusing being a fascist, but if I’ve got to play her, I can’t say ‘I’m not going to do that because people won’t like her.

I had to see the monkey before we started rolling, as I knew if I just walked in there during the scene, I would have a heart attack, so they had to introduce it to me. She was just sat there, bum squeaking on the table, licking stuff and hitting things – like a small child. During the first take I had to pretend to be asleep, but I could see her out of the corner of my eye just get up, walk out of shot, get some grapes and start eating them in front of me, looking bored stiff. I couldn’t go on, I’ve never laughed so much. She’s big too, and if you tried to take something off her she’d just grab it back. Safe to say, I have no major desire to work with animals again. Then again, it’s not every day you’re stuck filming in a room with a monkey.

This page was last modified on: February 19, 2012