Performances are spot on. Eileen Atkins, the other of the series originators, is a commanding elder used to taking charge and not about to take a back seat to her daughter-in-law. Keeley Hawes is effectively torn between her inexperience and her desire to assert herself, while Ed Stoppard has his diplomatic skills tested as he maneuvers between the two. Claire Foy plays the rebellious Lady Persie with the passionate self righteousness of youth.
The downstairs cast is equally fine. Anne Reid as Mrs. Thackeray, the cook, is not quite the martinet in the kitchen, but still quite jealous of her position. Her joyousness at having her photo taken by the famed photographer, Cecil Beaton is classic. If at first Adrian Scarborough's Pritchard doesn't seem to have the same authority that Mr. Hudson had in the original, by the time he gets to the third episode there is no question of his stature. Harry Spargo is the chauffer who can't quite bring himself to break away from the traditional social values when all is said and done. Art Malik plays Lady Maud's private secretary and adds an exotic note to the cast. The young maid is played with youthful exuberance by Ellie Kendrick, and together with Nico Mirallegro as a youthful footman in training, they make a fetching pair. Of course, it is Jean Marsh, her face lined with her years as an actress mirroring her years in service to the Bellamys that hold everything together. It is only fitting that the series end with her gazing out from the window of her beloved home.
Upstairs Downstairs from the seventies has become a classic. The 2011 version has much to live up to; it would be very easy to disappoint. But series lovers can rest easy, the sequel does the series proud. We can only hope that there will be more to come.