BBC Closes Doors on 'Downton Abbey' Rival 'Upstairs Downstairs'
LONDON – The BBC’s recent update of the 1970s long-running costume drama Upstairs Downstairs, co-produced here with PBS' Masterpiece in the U.S., has been chopped after two seasons.
The return to the screens for the period piece failed to connect with audiences in a similar way to rival Downton Abbey, commissioned by commercial web ITV and created and written by Oscar winner Julian Fellowes.
The show was revived in 2010 by the BBC with the first episode snagging a healthy 8.8 million viewers. But the final episode of the last series only coralled 5.22 million.
A BBC spokesperson told the pubcaster’s web site: "From Call the Midwife to Bird Song and The Syndicate, 2012 has been a great year for original British drama on BBC1 but at this stage there are no plans for Upstairs Downstairs to return."
The original series was broadcast on ITV from 1971 to 1975 with five series' consisting of 68 episodes.
The latest version's screenwriter Heidi Thomas tweeted: "Really touched by all the love and sadness for Upstairs Downstairs.
"It was made by a tremendous team and I can't praise them enough. Truly sad about Updown, but can now fully and wholeheartedly honour the massive commitments I have elsewhere, including Call The Midwife."
Fans have set up a petition on Twitter in an attempt to get the pubcaster to rethink its decision and recommission a third series.
Starring Keeley Hawes, Anne Reid and original 1970s cast members Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, the reboot was co-created by Marsh, who won a lead actress Emmy for her original turn in 1975, and Atkins.
The duo found themselves Emmy-nominated last year for their endevours.
The show came in from criticism in the second season for its script not being up to snuff.