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Upstairs, Downstairs: The Complete Series - 40th Anniversary Collection

4.4 out of 5 stars 450 customer reviews

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(Mar 29, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"Great fun and marvelous television" --The New York Times

"One of the brightest gems ever to come over the ocean from the British" --The Washington Post

Upstairs: the wealthy, aristocratic Bellamys. Downstairs: their loyal and lively servants. For nearly 30 years, they share a fashionable townhouse at 165 Eaton Place in London’s posh Belgravia neighborhood, surviving social change, political upheaval, scandals, and the horrors of the First World War.

The most popular and successful British drama series in television history, Upstairs, Downstairs won seven Emmy® Awards, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody. This epic saga of life and love in Edwardian England captivated viewers for five heart-tugging, humorous, and satisfying seasons. Seen by a billion people in over 40 countries, it’s beloved around the world.

The ensemble cast of top British actors includes Jean Marsh (Agatha Christie’s The Pale Horse), Pauline Collins (Shirley Valentine), David Langton (The Spoils of War), Gordon Jackson (The Professionals), Simon Williams (Sword of Honour), and Lesley-Anne Down (North and South).

Additional Features

Acorn Media's 40th Anniversary Edition of the beloved British TV series aims to be definitive, and it is: at 21 discs and something like 28 hours (including the audio commentaries) of bonus material, it replaces previous collections of the show. Perhaps the most significant aspect of this release is the improved video and audio quality of the episodes, an upgrade that addresses a complaint about previous editions. This version includes a 1996 documentary, Upstairs Downstairs Remembered, which provides a useful overview, but there's also a new offering, The Making of Upstairs Downstairs, which clocks in at more than 4 hours and has everything you'd want in behind-the-scenes info. We also get segments featuring 1970s British chat show host Russell Harty interviewing cast members, which are flip and amusing, and capture some of the surprise of the show's huge success. (There's also an odd Harty special passing through the Upstairs Downstairs set, with the cast in character, just after the final episode.) Shorter pieces highlight writer Alfred Shaughnessy and composer Alexander Faris. The commentary tracks, more than 20 of them, might be the real fun of the set. The participants are exceptionally articulate and amusing, especially whenever Jean Marsh or Simon Williams is around; the first episode also features novelist Fay Weldon, who scripted a few shows. There's good dish on the quirks of actors, on how certain episodes took final shape, and even disagreements about the meaning of it all. Wonderful stuff for devotees. --Robert Horton

Special Features

25+ Hours of New Bonus Material
"The Making of Upstairs, Downstairs"
24 Episode Commentaries
25th Anniversary Retrospective "Upstairs, Downstairs Remembered" including interviews with the stars, composer, and editor alternate pilot episode
Essay by star and cocreator Jean Marsh
SDH subtitles

Product Details

  • Actors: Gordon Jackson, David Langton, Jean Marsh, Angela Baddeley, Christopher Beeny
  • Directors: Bill Bain, Christopher Hodson, Derek Bennett, Raymond Menmuir
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 21
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: March 29, 2011
  • Run Time: 3250 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (450 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004H0ZHD4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,593 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Upstairs, Downstairs: The Complete Series - 40th Anniversary Collection" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By W. L. Morrow on December 5, 2005
Format: DVD
I have no idea why some of the reviewers are complaining about the audio and video quality of these DVDs. Because of those reviews I almost did not buy this set. That would have been a grave error. I suppose, if you are some type of audio/video expert you might find a few reasons to complain, but this is a 35 year old British TV show. If you expect special effects, buy Star Wars, not Upstairs Downstairs. The quality of the audio and video was quite acceptable and certainly better than when it originally aired. (It should also be remembered that the first season was filmed during a technicians strike.)

As for the show itself, Upstairs Downstairs is one of the greatest TV shows ever filmed. It is an extremely entertaining examination of the British class system from 1900 to 1930 (particularly what happened to it as a result of WWI). After you have watched a couple of shows, you will have difficulty turning them off.
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It wasn't commercial. It wasn't conventional. It dealt with issues not often talked about in the early 70s, both the social issues that permiate through the series, and also such issues, in certain episodes, as prejudice, suicide, and homosexuality.
This is the story of the Bellamy household at 165 Eaton Place, London, both the upstairs family (the Bellamy family, led by Richard Bellamy, a member of Parliament) and the downstairs family (the servants, led by Angus Hudson, the butler, who in his way is more aristocratic than the aristocrats). Yet in many ways, they are a single family, and we see them from the period 1905 to the 1920s, an era of profound social change, and we see the effects such changes have on this household, from a time when going "into service" was routine to the time when having half a dozen servants for a small upper middle class family such as the Bellamys was beginning to be the exception, not the rule.
The series includes rarely shown episodes from the 1st season, as well as the special, Upstairs Downstairs Remembered: The 25th Anniversary Special. While the special is included with the first series episodes, I would advise waiting until you have viewed the entire series before watching the special, to avoid any plot points being given away.
The acting is wonderful, led by Gordon Jackson (as Hudson, the butler), David Langton (as Richard Bellamy), and Jean Marsh (as house parlormaid Rose Buck). Marsh also originated and guided the series. These three characters seem like rocks, upon which the waves of the social changes beat. Yet they are worn and changed by the events of this incredible era. Nonetheless, this is very much an ensemble cast--no character appears in more than 60 of the 68 episodes.
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Format: DVD
I suspect that many people shopping this new release of "Upstairs, Downstairs" for its fortieth anniversary commemoration (which happens to coincide with a new version coming to PBS later in 2011) will already be familiar with the series. Many, like I do, might already own the previous version of the complete series on DVD. It's been out of print for several years, so I'm thrilled to see this magnificent and ground breaking series back on the marketplace. If you have never seen or do not own "Upstairs, Downstairs"--then my recommendation is a no-brainer. Get it! However, what I wanted to know and any previous owners might be itching to know--is it an upgrade worthy of reinvestment?

While I love my current DVD collection, it's not a particularly high quality transfer. After researching this new set through PBS directly, I am reporting that there are NO promises on the reworking of visual or audio components. The same proclamation that was on the last DVD issue is on this one--"digitally remastered for presentation on DVD." So it appears to be a strict reissue, not new re-mastering. It does, however, seem to be drawn from a clearer source material with a cleaner picture quality thankfully. The features of the 68 episodes on 21 DVDs include a 5-part documentary "The Making of Upstairs, Downstairs," 24 episode commentaries, 25th anniversary retrospective "Upstairs, Downstairs Remembered," Interviews with the stars, composer, and editor, Alternate pilot episode, and an essay by star and co-creator Jean Marsh. Obviously the 25th anniversary retrospective was included on the prior release--so that leaves the documentary, some interviews, and commentary and as much as I love "Upstairs, Downstairs"--I can't justify repurchasing the set for this reissue.
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Format: DVD
It is no exaggeration to say that this classic early 70's British period drama is one of the all-time best series of its sort ever produced. With sixty-eight 50-minute episodes, the series covers a time span of nearly 30 years (from early Edwardian England in 1903, through the horrors of the First World War, and on into the Roaring 20s, finally concluding with 1929's stock market crash). The setting is the household of the Bellamy family at 165 Eaton Place, London. Upstairs live Richard Bellamy, MP, and his beautiful, aristocratic wife, Lady Margery. The Bellamys have two adult children, Captain James and Elizabeth, who come and go much like a recurring motif (though recurring nightmare might be more appropriate, for they are the source of much grief (albeit unintended) for their society parents). I don't wish to give the storylines, scandals and surprises away. Suffice it to say that as the series progress, there are lovers, marriages, births and deaths (not to mention the arrival of a beautiful young niece) which impact on the relationships and alter the composition of the group above stairs.

Downstairs we are privy to the lives of the servants in the Bellamy household. First and foremost is the devout, inflexible and regimental head butler, Angus Hudson, the staff overlord. Then there is the curmudgeonly but good-hearted cook, Mrs. Bridges. Other memorable characters include the efficient but sheltered head house/parlour maid, Rose Buck; the religious but simple footman, Alfred; his successor, the good-natured Edward, who has an eye for the female staff; the not-overly-bright scullery maid, Emily, and her successor and intellectual equal, Ruby; and Lady Margery's prim and snobbish lady's maid, Miss Roberts.
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