The Best Episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs

Last Updated: Nov 15, 2018

Covering a span of 27 years (1903-1930), Upstairs, Downstairs follows the lives of the wealthy Bellamy family residing upstairs at 165 Eaton Place, London, as well as the lives of those employed in their service living downstairs. Richard Bellamy, the son of a poor parson, is married to Lady Marjorie, the daughter of the wealthy Earl and Countess of Southwold, whose family money provides for the Bellamy's lavish lifestyle. As an influential member of the Conservative party, the Earl secures a seat in Parliament for Richard, with the expectation that he will support conservative policies. He tries his best to please his wife's family but, being a Liberal at heart, Richard finds it's not always that easy. These political and financial differences are a reoccurring source of contention for the Bellamys. On the surface, the lives of the family living upstairs couldn't seem more different than those of the servants living below but, strangely enough, through the years their lives often intersect, becoming increasingly entwined as time goes by. The addition of real-life events, like the tragic sinking of the RMS Titanic and the horrors of World War I, incorporated into the storylines add a touch of authenticity and realism to the show.

A Patriotic Offering

#1 - A Patriotic Offering

Season 4 - Episode 1

Unable to communicate with the Belgian refugees they're expected to look after has left the staff feeling put out, frustrated, and angry. They want the refugees to leave but, after hearing their tragic stories, things change and they're sorry to see them go. Meanwhile, Edward is caught in the middle between those who love him and want him to be safe, and everyone else who make him feel guilty for not enlisting; but after hearing the refugees' stories, he decides to do what he thinks is right, and Daisy is not pleased.

star 8.61
8 votes
Directors: Derek Bennett
Writers: Rosemary Anne Sisson
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Whither Shall I Wander?

#2 - Whither Shall I Wander?

Season 5 - Episode 16

(Audio commentary available on some DVDs). After nearly 30 years, the Bellamy saga ends with the sale of 165 Eaton Place and a fresh beginning for every member of the household.

star 8.44
9 votes
Directors: Bill Bain
Writers: John Hawkesworth
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The Nine Days Wonder

#3 - The Nine Days Wonder

Season 5 - Episode 9

The entire household comes together when a General Strike is called throughout Britain in May 1926

star 8.43
7 votes
Directors: Simon Langton
Writers: Jeremy Paul
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All the King's Horses

#4 - All the King's Horses

Season 5 - Episode 15

(Audio commentary available on some DVDs). The Wall Street crash hits Eaton Place. October, 1929. After making a killing on Wall Street, James returns to England with his spirits renewed. His homecoming is a joyous one for the Bellamys, despite Richard's doubts as to the soundness of his son's speculations. Indeed, his fears are prophetic—the stock-market crash wipes out James and Rose, who invested her savings on the strength of James' advice. Enraged, Richard berates James over this and past failures, opening old and still painful wounds.

star 8.38
8 votes
Directors: Simon Langton
Writers: Jeremy Paul
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Peace Out of Pain

#5 - Peace Out of Pain

Season 4 - Episode 13

Rose receives excellent news, James is depressed about his slow recovery, Richard is courting Virginia, and the Great War is winding down to a victorious conclusion, but there's still one more casualty to be claimed.

star 8.35
6 votes
Writers: Alfred Shaughnessy
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Noblesse Oblige

#6 - Noblesse Oblige

Season 5 - Episode 14

Better the devil you know than the one you don't is the lesson Mrs. Bridges and Ruby learn after a terrible row. Upstairs, Lord Stockbridge proposes to Georgina, but there's a catch.

star 8.33
6 votes
Directors: Cyril Coke
Writers: John Hawkesworth
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The Understudy

#7 - The Understudy

Season 5 - Episode 10

On the eve of an important dinner party for a French diplomat, Hudson suffers a heart attack.

star 8.33
6 votes
Directors: James Ormerod
Writers: Jeremy Paul
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The Key of the Door

#8 - The Key of the Door

Season 1 - Episode 12

Winter 1908: Elizabeth befriends a bunch of Bohemian-types, but is drawn to two in particular: Evelyn Larkin, a radical Socialist extremist, and her lover, Lawrence Kirbridge, a handsome, free-spirited poet. On the eve of her 21st birthday, with her parents out of town, Lizzy invites the entire group to Eaton Place, and is humiliated when the Bellamys return home unexpectedly and throw everyone out. Anxious to prove she's nothing like her parents, Lizzy is compelled to do something extreme, leading to a falling out with her parents and a harsh discovery about Evelyn.

star 8.29
7 votes
Writers: John Hawkesworth, Alfred Shaughnessy
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A Place in the World

#9 - A Place in the World

Season 5 - Episode 2

After James' Letter to the Editor garners strong public approval. the conservative Tory party, hoping to cash in on his moment of popularity, invite him to run for Parliament as a Tory. James accepts but everyone soon realizes that his progressive views for moving the country forward are not aligned with the party views which want to go back to the way things were before the war. Meanwhile, Edward and Daisy are struggling financially but realize they have friends who love them at Eaton Place.

star 8.27
7 votes
Writers: Jeremy Paul
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On with the Dance

#10 - On with the Dance

Season 5 - Episode 1

Eaton Place is enveloped with uncertainty. Edward and Daisy have moved on and been replaced with Frederick Norton, James' servant from the war, and Lily. The newlyweds, Richard and Virginia, and her children, Alica and William, have plans to move into their own home. There's not enough work to keep everyone busy and the house is far too large for James to live there alone, so he decides it's time to sell the house and gives the servants a month's notice.

star 8.26
8 votes
Directors: Bill Bain
Writers: Alfred Shaughnessy
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A Suitable Marriage

#11 - A Suitable Marriage

Season 1 - Episode 5

December 1905: Elizabeth falls for a young German baron, whom her father is suspicious of. Richard quickly uncovers the Baron's secret, but as it turns out, Baron Klaus von Rimmer is hiding another secret, which Rose accidentally stumbles upon. The events of the evening compel one of the servants to betray not only the family, but the country as well.

star 8.18
11 votes
Writers: Jeremy Paul
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The Joy Ride

#12 - The Joy Ride

Season 5 - Episode 4

When James buys a small airplane, Virginia defies Richard, putting the entire household through quite an ordeal.

star 8.16
7 votes
Directors: Bill Bain
Writers: Alfred Shaughnessy
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Missing Believed Killed

#13 - Missing Believed Killed

Season 4 - Episode 11

Grasping at straws, the Bellamy family continue to search for any information to indicate James is still alive, but when Trooper Frederick Norton, James' servant, arrives to deliver James' personal belongings, Hazel loses all hope.

star 8.15
6 votes
Writers: Jeremy Paul
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Married Love

#14 - Married Love

Season 2 - Episode 3

Things have not improved in the Kirbridge household. It turns out they have yet to consummate their marriage. Lizzie, unaware she's married to a gay man, is miserable and angry, making Lawrence miserable, too. Realizing he cannot fulfill that "need" for her, Lawrence decides to enlist the help of a friend to fulfill those duties for him.

star 8.14
7 votes
Writers: John Harrison
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Alberto

#15 - Alberto

Season 5 - Episode 11

Frederick considers his future when he feels his talents are largely wasted in the Bellamy household.

star 8.13
8 votes
Writers: Alfred Shaughnessy
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A Family Secret

#16 - A Family Secret

Season 3 - Episode 4

James has been secretly courting Hazel Forrest, and soon discovers she's a master at hiding secrets because she's been hiding a really big one from him.

star 8.13
8 votes
Directors: Derek Bennett
Writers: Alfred Shaughnessey
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A House Divided

#17 - A House Divided

Season 3 - Episode 2

When none of the family members are listed among the Titanic survivors, they must be presumed dead and the entire household goes into mourning. When routine household tasks begin to fall through the cracks, Hazel steps up to help whenever she sees a need. Her thoughtful effort is lost on the servants who feel like she's imposing herself into their lives and trying to take Lady Marjorie's place. It also causes concern for her parents who seem to think the Bellamys will soon have Hazel mopping floors. Everyone is stunned when an unexpected visitor arrives.

star 8.11
8 votes
Writers: Rosemary Anne Sisson
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If You Were the Only Girl in the World

#18 - If You Were the Only Girl in the World

Season 4 - Episode 7

Hazel has a little fling with Lt. Jack Dyson, whom she met at the tea party for wounded officers, and is seen by one of her lady acquaintances. James and Georgina meet in France and share a moment of passion.

star 8.11
8 votes
Writers: John Hawkesworth
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Magic Casements

#19 - Magic Casements

Season 1 - Episode 7

Summer 1906: Captain Hammond, a handsome young friend of James', graciously agrees to escort Lady Marjorie to the opera. Feeling a strong mutual attraction, they quickly realize how compatible they are, despite the age difference, Abuzz with gossip, the servants seem to be the only ones aware of what's going on.

star 8.10
11 votes
Writers: John Hawkesworth
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The Hero's Farewell

#20 - The Hero's Farewell

Season 4 - Episode 10

Lady Prudence commandeers the Bellamy drawing room for a worthy cause. Another London bombing, another close call, and another tragedy is heaped upon the tattered nerves of those at Eaton Place.

star 8.01
8 votes
Directors: Bill Bain
Writers: Rosemary Anne Sisson
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For Love of Love

#21 - For Love of Love

Season 1 - Episode 13

June 1909: Elizabeth and Lawrence Kirbridge have fallen in love and, refusing to conform to society's rules, announce their plan to live together without marriage, resulting in pressure from all sides. After Lawrence gives in and starts pressuring her too, Lizzie finally succumbs. Meanwhile, Sarah fulfills her dream to perform on the stage when she takes a job in a burlesque show. James shows up and, now that she no longer works for his family, wants to pursue the relationship they've both wanted for nearly six years.

star 8.01
9 votes
Directors: Herbert Wise
Writers: Rosemary Anne Sisson
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A Special Mischief

#22 - A Special Mischief

Season 2 - Episode 10

While her parents are away, Elizabeth gets involved in the suffragette movement. Rose attempts to keep her out of trouble but the situation ends badly, requiring Elizabeth to seek help from Julius Karekin, an influential man she just met.

star 8.00
7 votes
Writers: Anthony Skene
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The Fruits of Love

#23 - The Fruits of Love

Season 2 - Episode 11

The Bellamys are in shock when they learn that Eaton Place, which is part of the Southwold estate, must be sold in order to satisfy the terms of the deceased Lord Southwold's will. Adding to their worries is news of Elizabeth's involvement with Julius Karekin, a man they strongly disapprove of, but in the end, the relationship proves very beneficial.

star 8.00
6 votes
Writers: John Hawksworth
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Another Year

#24 - Another Year

Season 4 - Episode 9

This difficult year finally comes to bumpy close. Helen and Richard meet Mrs. Charles Hamilton who wants Richard to help get her pet project off the ground. Edward is home on leave but all is not well. A bombing in London brings a familiar face back to Eaton Place.

star 8.00
6 votes
Directors: Cyril Coke
Writers: Alfred Shaughnessy
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The Glorious Dead

#25 - The Glorious Dead

Season 4 - Episode 8

Sadly, perhaps inevitably, a double dose of tragic news arrives for those at Eaton Place.

star 8.00
7 votes
Writers: Alfred Shaughnessy, Elizabeth Jane Howard
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