Gosford Park, Michael Gambon, Richard E Grant

Aristocrats and their servants have been dominating the telly over recent months. It all started in September with that ratings hit Downton Abbey. And then the BBC continued the trend over the festive break with three new Upstairs Downstairs episodes to brighten up those post-Christmas turkey leftovers days.

Gosford Park, Maggie Smith

So what is it about period class divide dramas? Why are they so popular right now?

Does it have something to do with our current economical and political situation? Is it the joy of entertainment and history lesson combined? Is it the appeal of ‘servant porn’ (as one Guardian writer put it)? Could it be a fascination with the virtually lost art of master and servant etiquette? Is it the wry amusement of knowing how those arrogant toffs would crumble without their loyal serving staff? Or is it all just rose-tinted nostalgia?

GOSFORD PARK,  RYAN PHILLIPPE, KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS

Whatever it is, one thing’s for sure – Robert Altman‘s ensemble period mystery drama Gosford Park came before Downton A and Upstairs D.

Also penned by Downton Abbey‘s screenwriter Julian Fellowes, Gosford Park is set in  the two-tiered world of a 1930s country estate where an upper class shooting party and their serving staff below the stairs all become suspects in a murder enquiry.

Yes, this Agatha Christie-style mystery has everything a Downton Abbey/Upstairs Downstairs junkie needs to keep going while both shows take a broadcasting breather. What’s more – it’s on a bigger scale- with a bigger budget and a much more star-studded cast.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwtZuGvawwY&fs=1

Gosford Park is showing on More 4 tonight (7th January) at 9pm