The Best Episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs
Last Updated: May 17, 2019
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.
#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.
#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 prophetical; 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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#12 - 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.
#15 - 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.
#16 - 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.
#17 - 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.
#18 - 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.
#19 - Word of Honour
Season 3 - Episode 7
Acting on a tip from a friend, Richard quadruples his stock market investment in a matter of weeks. When it turns out that the company he invested in just landed a government contract, he's accused of insider trading. Richard denies learning about it in Parliament, but refuses to divulge the name of his friend, and when Hazel and Hudson go behind his back to determine his friend's identity, Richard is furious.
#20 - The Bolter
Season 3 - Episode 8
Hazel feels out of her element when she accompanies James on a hunting weekend and spends the evening watching Diana throw herself at him. When James refuses to allow her to participate in the hunt, Hazel defies him with the urging of Diana, who then proceeds to play a cruel stunt by putting Hazel on an untamed horse she's unable to handle. James is embarrassed and angry over Hazel's defiance and lack of horsemanship, causing an argument. Later, when Cochy implies James is sleeping with Diana, Hazel, who's already nursing a wounded ego, packs it in and heads back to London. Meanwhile, a flirtatious maid asks Edward to come to her room later that night, and on his way there, Edward is shocked to see one of the gentlemen entering the room of one of the married ladies.
#21 - News from the Front
Season 4 - Episode 2
After James talks about an appalling lack of ammunition, Geoffrey Dillon leaks it to the press for political gain. Pleased with the results, a grateful Dillon pulls strings to get James a promotion and a cushy job, but James doesn't want it. Hoping he'll intervene, James goes to his CO who shows him the story and, citing his discovery that James is the leak, refuses to help, turning the desk job into a punishment of sorts. Meanwhile, Edward and Daisy become engaged.
#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.
#25 - Facing Fearful Odds
Season 4 - Episode 12
Virginia Hamilton returns to Eaton Place, seeking Richard's advice for her son who is facing a court martial. Meanwhile, Edward is scheduled to go back to France, and James is wallowing in self-pity.