Tag Archives: Eileen Atkins

Upstairs Downstairs

On returning to 165 Eaton Place I felt awfully confused. It was a mere year since we were last there. How could I have forgotten? And how come that woman looked so familiar, while still leaving me wondering who on earth she might be?

Upstairs Downstairs

So, encountering River Song back in 1938 was perfectly normal. They do time travel in Cardiff, after all. It’s thanks to nerdy Daughter that I now know they weren’t in London at all, but in Cardiff. It would explain the Resident IT Consultant’s concern over the hill in the park. No such hills in central London.

But what had happened to the old woman? And did they already have a child? I had no recollection of him at all. Not to mention the lack of a housekeeper. But, I slowly found my footing again and it was fun.

Not as fun as Downton Abbey, which of course is the thing that has come between us and messed with my brain and my memories. But you just don’t kill off the dowagers! And why bring out the ‘shameful’ sister only when she can be a nuisance, rather than a member of the family like everyone else?

Upstairs Downstairs

Where Downton is soapy, Upstairs Downstairs is probably more ‘realistic.’ Fewer servants seems more normal. Having the butler cook dinner in a tight spot makes sense. And then there is the war. The Kindertransport brought tears to our eyes, with Kristallnacht bringing reality home.

Upstairs Downstairs

At the risk of sounding too fluffy, there is also the gorgeous Art Deco interiors and the dresses to be considered. Not to mention J F Kennedy being sick. Was it the oysters?

Upstairs Downstairs

I was never a regular viewer of the old Upstairs Downstairs. Not sure why. I think I was of an age when it sounded boring. But you still knew a lot about it, even in distant and foreign lands like mine. And it’s not every servant who makes it onto Sesame Street. (Put down the ducky?)

We enjoyed the new mini series over Christmas. The Resident IT Consultant cried at all the right times, while the Grandmother fell asleep.

I like Art Malik, but you wonder at the apparent shortage of Asian actors. Was quite taken with him without the turban, flowing beard and all. I often wonder about those things.

Not too keen on Keeley Hawes, but thought Ed Stoppard did a passable job. And we got a history lesson, having to sort out the order of princes available for becoming King, but I do wonder about the gravelly street. In fact, when I start wondering about authenticity I know I need to stop before I get grumpy.

The Guardian had a piece about people enjoying the idea of having servants rather too much, forgetting that most likely we would all be the servants. I’m sure we can rise above that notion and learn something from both Upstairs and Downstairs. I’d have hated being a servant, but I really wouldn’t have liked having servants around at all times, either.

But a nice 1930s dress would be welcome, as would the china. And the radios and the car.

Pieces of Poirot

Poirot falling to pieces was a novelty. I’ll give them that. But the consensus in these parts seemed to be that we prefer a slightly saner Poirot, and if the murderers can be more cheerful as they go about their business that would not be a bad thing. At least if it’s Murder on the Orient Express, and they are almost justified, and they get to travel on that great train.

David Suchet, Murder on the Orient Express

But it must have been the justification that had the screenwriter in a twist. It wouldn’t be pc to allow murderers to get away with it (although it seems to be in vogue in real courts, here and now), so we need to have Poirot all religious and with flashback to a possible mistake made earlier, as well as putting the current murderers in context with the stoning of an adulteress.

It is a very Christmassy Christie, what with the snow and all. Considerably more current news than they could possibly have hoped for, as well. Trains stuck. Cold trains. Bad customer service. Ineffective digging in snow drifts. Almost British. The period feel is good, and the train is lovely.

But we don’t want Poirot falling to pieces. He didn’t in the ‘old’ film, nor, as far as I recall, did he in the book. When did he become a catholic, or at least, so overtly religious? As the film began Daughter muttered that she hoped they weren’t going to change who did it. A bit hard with this scenario, but it began to look as if they’d change Poirot’s decision at the end.

Was it just me, or had much of the casting been done by someone who knew exactly what each character should look like, as defined by the old film?

And was this intended as Poirot’s last case? If so, I suppose he’s allowed to go round the bend somewhat. As Son pointed out, everyone was so very angry.

Murder on the Orient Express 2010