Eileen Atkins pulls out of Upstairs Downstairs

The co-creator of the original series is “unhappy with the direction of the scripts”


Eileen Atkins has decided not to appear in the second series of BBC period drama Upstairs Downstairs. 


According to a BBC report, the 77-year-old actress was unconvinced by the direction of the latest scripts, which were penned by Cranford writer Heidi Thomas.

Atkins co-created the original series – which ran on ITV between 1971 and 1975 – with star Jean Marsh. And although she did not appear in the 70s version, when the BBC resurrected the series last Christmas, she took the role of Lady Holland alongside Marsh and the new cast.

Responding to the news, a BBC spokseperson said: “It’s with much sadness that we say goodbye to [Eileen Atkins’s] wonderful character, the straight speaking mother-in-law Lady Holland.

“However, we respect her decision and we will be announcing new star casting soon.”

Atkins said: “There was always a question as to whether I’d continue in the series and I wasn’t tempted by the development of my character.  I naturally hope Upstairs Downstairs will continue to be a success.”

Set during the mid-1930s, Upstairs Downstairs follows the lives of a diplomat’s family and their servants, who live above and below stairs in a grand London townhouse.

Ed Stoppard and Keeley Hawes were among those starring with Atkins and Marsh in the new production last year, Marsh being the only person to have appeared in both the original 1970s series and the update.


The new six-part series begins filming in October, with Heidi Thomas promising “an extraordinary year” for the Holland family and their servants.