Monday, 23 April 2012

165 Eaton Place no more - brief thoughts on a television cancellation

So, farewell then (again) Upstairs Downstairs, after an erratic second season which failed to satisfactorily build on the strengths of the 2010 miniseries. There are petitioning groups set up on Facebook and Twitter in an attempt to reverse the BBC's decision, but any extension would have to see the direction of the series rethought. From her utterances on Twitter (where she was extremely courteous to my expression of regret), Heidi Thomas appears too exhausted by the job of running UpDown and the much more lauded Call the Midwife to be showrunner for two series at the same time, a reminder that British television series drama seems to rely too heavily on a small pool of talent. UpDown probably lost a valued champion when Piers Wenger left BBC Wales, and the absence of Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh from this series left a void: though there was much to enjoy, something died with Solomon the monkey. I'd still like to see it back, but the stories told this year needed more episodes in which to breathe, and a greater sense of verisimilitude in the trajectories each character took.

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