Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eerie Fancies

I’ve been watching the DVDs of, Upstairs, Downstairs, specifically the episodes set between 1905 and 1908.  I have become completely drawn in by the show, even falling in love with the character named Elizabeth. The daughter of Tory politician Richard Bellamy MP and Lady Marjorie Bellamy, Elizabeth has just returned from Germany where she read philosophy. Beautiful and intelligent, she is now an ardent socialist.

To celebrate Elizabeth’s return, her parents threw a ball, which Elizabeth found annoying and frivolous. She asks her mother how she could throw a ball with so many homeless and hungry people in London. Later, Elizabeth helps organize a group of upper class women to assist in a soup kitchen.  She gets shoes for shoeless children, doesn’t pay for them, and gets arrested.

Otherwise, Elizabeth hangs out and parties with a nonconformist (bohemian) crowd which causes her parents as well as the servants to become greatly upset and embarrassed (It’s hilarious). And after Elizabeth becomes enchanted with a nonconformist poet who also happens to be an irresponsible and narcissistic but handsome fool, she declares that she is against religion and marriage.

Unlike Elizabeth’s mother, who is full of Victorian airs, the free and outspoken Elizabeth is always down to earth and always herself. She treats the family servants like true friends and equals, and humorously, she sees right through the phony veneer of the conventional upper class boys.  The point is that between the philosophy and the help for the poor, I fell in love with her.

Naturally, I felt curious about the actress who played Elizabeth, Nicola Pagett, and so I googled her.  The very first item that I found was a newspaper article (dated 1997) titled, “Madly in love: how Nicola Pagett's infatuation tipped over into obsession.” It said in part:
Yesterday it emerged that the Prime Minister's press secretary had been the object of Nicola Pagett's erotomanic obsession. 
"I fell in love with The Stranger's face. I looked at a man's face and into his eyes on a screen and I believed him. `If it doesn't begin it can never end.' That's what I wrote to him.
So Nicola Pagett, the former Upstairs Downstairs actress, bravely chronicles in her autobiography the beginning of her descent into obsessive manic depression as she falls in love and becomes obsessed with a man she sees on TV whom she nicknames "The Stranger". 
Yesterday it was claimed that The Stranger was in fact the Prime Minister's press secretary, Alastair Campbell. 
Next, I clicked on an interview (dated 2001).  The more I read of the interview, the more disappointed and shocked I became as I came to see the reality of the actress. The real life woman, Nicola Pagett, was as naive and simple-minded as the lowly servant girls in the Upstairs, Downstairs episodes.


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