Upstairs Downstairs – The Fruits of Love (5th January 1973)

At the start of this episode, Rose and Miss Elizabeth’s relationship (which was somewhat strained, for obvious reasons, at the end of the previous installment) seems to have righted itself. We can maybe credit this to Rose’s remarkable powers of recovery – although the mood becomes a little cloudier when Elizabeth mentions the name Julius Karekin again ….

Elizabeth has always tended to be in a pretty depressive state – spending a large amount of her time railing against her ordained place in society. Today, she looks longingly at Rose and wishes she – like her – had a job of work to do. Although she might think otherwise if she actually had to carry out the duties of a house parlour maid.

But now her relationship with Julius has tipped her over the edge and she’s in a giddy state of ecstasy. After the dark rigors of A Special Mischief, this comes as a dose of light relief. The morning-after bedroom romping between Elizabeth and Julius (she copies the antics from a florid romantical novel, he attempts to escape from her clutches in order to leave for the City) is rather nicely done. Throughout her time in Upstairs Downstairs, Nicola Pagett had few opportunities to indulge in comedy so possibly these scenes offered her a welcome change of pace.

The central part of the episode is also entertaining – Juluis has gifted Elizabeth a hat shop and she throws herself into running it with gusto. When Elizabeth breaks the news to her parents, they react predictably. Lady Marjorie is horrified that her daughter is going into trade whilst Richard (who earlier had bemoaned how much money Elizabeth continues to cost him) can hardly contain his delight that she’ll finally be a wage earner!

There’s also a rare moment of genuine affection between father and daughter as Richard helps her to choose a name for the shop – Madame Yvonne (named, as Lady Marjorie acidly reminds him, after one of his old girlfriends – a dreadfully common woman who dyed her hair).

Madame Yvonne caters for the well-heeled gullible by claiming to stock genuine Paris fashions (which are nothing of the sort). They are smoothly sold by Mademoiselle Jeanette (Mairhi Russell) who is as genuinely French as the hats ….

Margot Boyd essays a lovely little cameo as Lady Spennilove, a wealthy (but, as Lady Marjorie would say, frightfully common) woman who walks away with a hat that looks to my eyes positively awful. But I will confess that ladies’ hats are not my specialty.

All seems to be going swimmingly. until the vengeful Margot Descort (Wendy Gifford), still smarting that Julius has spurned her in favour of Elizabeth, breaks the news about Elizabeth’s new lover to Lady Marjorie.

Julius is wealthy but without any breeding – the most heinous crime in Lady Marjorie’s eyes. This leads into by far the best scene of the episode – a confrontation between Lady Marjorie and Elizabeth in which several home truths are aired. Elizabeth confirms that she’s Julius’ mistress and then gently taunts her mother about her own past indiscretion.

Rachel Gurney is so good here as Lady Marjorie slowly realises that her hidden secret is not as hidden as she’d hoped (even the servants know about it). It’s a pity that Gurney’s time with the series is fast running out (it won’t be long before Lady Marjorie takes a one-way trip on the Titanic) but had she had more scenes like this, possibly she would have been encouraged to stay on.

The major irony of the episode is saved for the last few minutes. Thanks to her father’s crippling death duties, Lady Marjorie has to face the prospect of selling 165 Eaton Place. But just when all seems lost, Julius buys the house and gifts it to Elizabeth, who gifts it to her parents.

Lady Marjorie is then forced to invite Julius round for tea and polite conversation while Richard – well aware by now of Julius’ substantial personal wealth – is keen to show him round the Houses of Parliament and introduce him to some of his friends.

So everybody seems to be a winner – Julius (barely tolerated up to this point by the establishment) has begun to buy his way in whilst the stability of life at 165 Eaton Place is – on the surface at least – maintained.

The Fruits of Love is very much an Upstairs story. Only Rose and Mr Hudson featured from Downstairs – Hudson gets a handful of memorable lines whilst Rose plays her usual role as Miss Elizabeth’s confidant and stern conscience. Although there’s at least one moment of pleasure for Rose, as Elizabeth tells her to choose any hat she’d like from the shop. Initially reluctant, she can’t help herself and soon is overcome as a variety of appealing headwear swims into view ….

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