Tag Archives: upstairs downstairs

Lustbox: Keeley Hawes

Ah, Christmas. Despite my very best attempts to be a Good (Velocity) Girl this year, in return Santa’s Sack contained a broken speedometer and a chest infection. Thanks for that, Father Christmas – you really shouldn’t have! No, really. You shouldn’t have.

However, our old pal FC did at least partly redeem himself on Boxing Day, by providing your intrepid correspondent with the opportunity to drool ov- I mean ardently admire the acting performance of Keeley Hawes in the BBC remake of Upstairs Downstairs.

Upstairs? Downstairs? Anywhere you like, really...

Hawes has pretty much cornered the market in Dramas of all Periods – Our Mutual Friend, Wives and Daughters, Tipping The Velvet, Marple, Ashes to Ashes etc. Plus she’s done Shakespeare (she was a truly moving miscarrying Lady Macbeth in the ShakespeaRe-Told series on the Beeb a while back and was also very good indeed in the not-dreadfully-sympathetic role of Desdemona in ITV’s Othello) and Chaucer (again in the Beeb’s modern adaptations). And she also played probably the most sympathetic female role to date in Spooks (yes I know Ros was fab but she was also terrifying), bringing a touching vulnerability as an agent ultimately done in by having to continually choose Duty over Love. And whilst her struggle with the badly-underwritten role of Alex in Ashes to Ashes was all too plain to see in its first series, the way in which she went on to make the part into something that managed to be both strong and moving was impressive.

Having been at times written off as yet another Kate Winslet/Emma Thompson/Emilia Fox/Emily Mortimer/Keira Knightley etc English Rose, the fact that Hawes is almost continually in high-quality work such as Upstairs Downstairs surely speaks for itself. She’s not adverse to sending herself up either, as her turn in That Mitchell And Webb Look proved. And if that wasn’t enough, she’s even the face of Boots No. 7 make-up and the voice of Lara Croft. Carlsberg don’t make women, but if they did….

Posted by Velocity Girl

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Filed under Ashes to Ashes, Lustbox

Downton Abbey: Maggie may

As the talented Julian (Gosford Park) Fellowes obviously knows well, the British pre WW1 country house, complete with rigid crinolines, even more rigid class hierarchies, housemaids on their knees, hugely complicated sexual/social dynamics, stiff upper lips and Maggie Smith as a Dowager Countess, is a brilliant place to set a drama. Really, what more could a girl want? After I had a log delivery for the new woodburner, I snuggled down on the sofa and capitulated to the arrival of Autumn, largely thanks to Downton Abbey, a bloody marvellous new ITV drama. I had a seasonal televisual false start of good post-summer viewing with Strictly pretending to begin, then faltering for several weeks (bad move BBC, you pissed me off with that, dangling the promise of a dancing Ann Widdicombe then ripping it out of my grasp) and I’m no longer loyal. ITV is my new best telly friend. But all is well. Downtown Abbey looks set to be terrific and Strictly is on Saturdays anyway, so if they beg for my viewing, I may patronise them if I’m not too busy looking at my woodburner crackling away merrily.

When British period drama has several famous faces on the go, it can go horribly wrong (anything Poirot), but Fellowes avoids all that somehow. I guess it’s down to good writing and direction, but you get pulled right into the story from the get-go. Male primogeniture, deaths of heirs on Titanic, evil plotting by servants and toffs alike. I really think I’m going to enjoy this.

Posted by Inkface

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Filed under Downton Abbey