Update: Downton Abbey is now in Season 2, having picked up a clutch of awards, and is scheduled for a 2 hour Christmas special. Whatever one thinks about the actually quality of the writing, (and I have to say I am very underwhelmed by it) the popularity of the show, especially its glamorous look and feel, shows that the hunger for nostalgic escapism remains unabated.
Lovers of period drama are in for a potential treat this coming autumn with the BBC and ITV going head to head with star studded slices of costumed loveliness, with the BBC reviving Upstairs Downstairs, with Jean Marsh as the housekeeper, and the ITV offering, pictured above.
How successful these two offering prove remains to be seen, but it reminded me I had reviewed a previous revival of this particular genre, which we might the period domestic soap opera. This was Servants, written by Lucy Gannon.. Servants, if you don’t remember it, was an attempt explore the life of domestic servant in the nineteenth century in a very radical way, and ran for only one series. My article below suggests some reasons for its failure. I shall be watching with interest to see how the two new autumn offerings deal with their subject. It was written in 2003, and there has been a lot more tv drama and living history that has flowed under the bridge since then, but I stand by many of my original observations. I am intending to cover some of the more recent attempts to deal with history on television in a future post. Continue reading