'Upstairs Downstairs' gets a sequel on PBS

upstairs-downstairs-320.jpgThe multiple Emmy-winning British drama "Upstairs Downstairs" will return to PBS in 2011.

PBS announced Monday (Feb. 22) that it will co-produce a new production of "Upstairs Downstairs" with the BBC. It will air in the United States in 2011 as part of "Masterpiece's" (formerly "Masterpiece Theatre") 40th season.

The new production is part of a big co-production deal that also includes "Sherlock," a contemporary take on Sherlock Holmes, and three mysteries based on the Aurelio Zen novels by Michael Dibden.

"I'm so proud of this particular group of programs," "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton says. "These three series say everything about what 'Masterpiece' aims to be: iconic, rich with wonderful actors, witty, literate, and timeless. I can't wait to see them all."

The new "Upstairs Downstairs" will take place in the same London house -- 165 Eaton Place -- in 1936, several years after the 1970s series concluded, and will continue to look at the lives of the family that lives there and their servants. Emmy winner Jean Marsh will reprise her role as parlor maid Rose; Eileen Atkins, who co-created the original series, will also star.

The new show will air in three parts and chronicle the years leading up to World War II. Heidi Thomas ("Cranford") is writing the script.

The new "Sherlock" -- co-created by Steven Moffat ("Doctor Who," "Coupling") and actor/"Doctor Who" scribe Mark Gatiss, will place Arthur Conan Doyle's detective in modern-day London. Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Other Boleyn Girl") will play the title character, and Martin Freeman ("The Office") will play Dr. Watson.

Rufus Sewell ("Eleventh Hour") will star in the Aurelio Zen mysteries, based on Dibden's novels. Left Bank Pictures, which made the "Wallander" series for the BBC and PBS, is producing it.

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Photo credit: PBS