Stewart, who was nominated for a Bafta in 2005 for her work on Mike Leigh’s film Vera Drake, was appointed by BBC Wales in mid-April following a competitive interview process.
Following her selection, Stewart says the BBC briefed her to ’pay generous homage to the original series’. For its second incarnation, Upstairs Downstairs will once again use 65 Eaton Place, in London’s Belgravia, for its external shots.
’People still have the architecture of the inside of the house clear in their heads, so that has to be the skeletal starting point for the design,’ says Stewart. ’But we can use the new technology we have now to add a bit more style and credibility to the set, to give the impression that the characters really are living in that time,’ she adds.
The original series of ITV drama Upstairs Downstairs, which ran for five seasons from 1971-75, explored the years between Queen Victoria’s death at the turn of the 20th century up until the 1920s. The new, two-part mini series will pick up the story of the house – occupied by a different family – in 1936.
Stewart says, ’This was when the British Fascist movement was on the rise and the UK was in a state of flux as it came out of the Depression and was about to go into the war. However, the design of the day had surged forward. Technology had really taken off, not least in terms of motor vehicles, which was reflected in interior design.’
Stewart says she will complete the set designs before filming starts in the next couple of months, and will remain on set for parts of the filming.
The only character linking the original series with the new one is Rose, the parlour maid, who will again by played by Jean Marsh.
The programme titles are yet to be created, according to a spokeswoman for the BBC.