I'm anticipating — with a fair amount of trepidation — the upcoming sequel to my favorite television series of all time, "Upstairs, Downstairs." I adored Hazel Bellamy (Meg Wynn Owen), the middle class secretary who married the son and heir of the house. We all thought she should have married James' father; he was a better match and would have been a much better partner. In my eyes, no other character over the years of the show — except parlormaid Rose Buck from downstairs (series co-creator Jean Marsh) — could hold a candle to Hazel, with her crown of gorgeous red hair, delicious wardrobe and sensitive air.
It took me weeks to get over Hazel's death from influenza at the end of WWI. But the story — and the family — went on. Hazel more or less disappeared from the screen for years. When she reappeared, I did not recognize her, but I knew her voice the moment she opened her mouth in "Gosford Park" and "Possession."
And, of course, the house itself in "Upstairs, Downstairs" was as much a main character in the series as any of the family or staff. I'm sure I could walk blind-folded through 165 Eaton Place, I'm so familiar with every room. In this new incarnation, the house will remain but the family will be entirely new. Whether I can still fall in love with them remains to be seen.
James (Simon Williams) and Hazel Bellamy (Meg Wynn Owen) in the drawing room at 165 Eaton Place.