Masterpiece Classic | Upstairs Downstairs Season 2
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Watch Sundays, October 27 & November 3, 2013 at 2:30pm on WMHT TV.

While Europe teeters on the brink of war, life goes on upstairs and downstairs at 165 Eaton Place—elegant, serious, sexy, and chaotic as ever—on Upstairs Downstairs Season 2, the second season of the Emmy®-nominated sequel to the long-running PBS series. Get more infomation about the program here.

Critics loved the first season, with The New York Times writing, “the sequel holds its own against the many period series and movies…from Brideshead Revisited to Remains of the Day to Gosford Park to Atonement.”

The Salt Lake Tribune called Upstairs Downstairs, “witty, dramatic, engaging, and thoroughly entertaining from start to finish.” And The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “watching it was just bliss.”

The returning cast includes Keeley Hawes (Wives and Daughters) as Lady Agnes Holland, the beautiful mistress at 165 Eaton Place, Ed Stoppard (Brideshead Revisited) as her diplomat husband, Sir Hallam, and Claire Foy (Little Dorrit) as Agnes’s obsessively defiant sister, Persie, who is in love with fascist politics and Nazis in particular.

Repeating their roles downstairs are Anne Reid (Bleak House) as the fractious gourmet cook, Mrs. Thackeray, Adrian Scarborough (Cranford) as the resourceful butler, Mr. Pritchard, Neil Jackson (Quantum of Solace) as the beefy chauffeur, Harry Spargo, and Art Malik (Jewel In The Crown) as Amanjit Singh, the private secretary to Hallam’s recently deceased mother (played last season by Eileen Atkins).

Jean Marsh (Sense and Sensibility), who was star and co-creator of the original Upstairs Downstairs and also of the sequel, appears in the new season in a cameo role.

Guest stars include Alex Kingston (ER, Moll Flanders) as Hallam’s freethinking aunt, Dr. Blanche Mottershead, Emilia Fox (Rebecca) as Blanche’s former lover, Lady Portia Alresford, and Michael Landes (Final Destination 2) as the American self-made millionaire Caspar Landry, whose latest venture is nylon hosiery—a convenient lure in his quest to seduce a certain aristocratic Englishwoman.

And with Hallam’s diplomatic connections, a string of historic figures also make their appearance. These include an appealing young Harvard student named John F. Kennedy and his blustering father, the American ambassador, as well as the notoriously hedonistic Duke of Kent (Blake Ritson, Emma), youngest brother to the king, and British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax (Ken Bones, Any Human Heart), who was later to concede the contest to become wartime prime minister to Winston Churchill.

Hallam’s post as Principal Private Secretary to Halifax, and earlier to Anthony Eden, parallels the career of the real-life Oliver Harvey, who kept a riveting diary about the bitter dissension in England’s inner circle on how to deal with Hitler, a plot element that moves steadily to center stage in Upstairs Downstairs Season 2.

The series also addresses other burning issues of the day: lesbianism, adultery, and sexual license in high places; conscientious objectors; home-grown fascism; war mobilization; and the lure of America—its money, style, and apparent safety an ocean away, far from the drumbeat of war.

Meanwhile, as Europe flirts with catastrophe, many just flirt.