Skip to main content

The Daily Beast: "Alex Kingston's Journey Through Time"

Alex Kingston reprises her role as River Song in Saturday’s Doctor Who and travels back in time for the new season of Upstairs Downstairs. I talk to the former ER star about River, Downton Abbey, historical lesbians, and more.

Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Alex Kingston's Journey Through Time," in which I talk to Kingston about Doctor Who and "The Angels Take Manhattan," Upstairs Downstairs (which returns to PBS' Masterpiece on Oct. 7), Downton Abbey, River Song, historical lesbians, and more.

Upstairs Downstairs isn’t typically known for its salaciousness.

The costume drama’s legendary original run—between 1971 and 1975 on ITV—kept the characters’ sexuality more or less off-screen, but the recent BBC revival series, which returns to PBS’ Masterpiece on Oct. 7, has taken a more overt approach to human sexuality than its predecessor, with one character—Claire Foy’s Lady Persephone—painted as a notorious Nazi sympathizer and professional party girl who hops into bed with just about anyone.

Season 2 of Upstairs Downstairs introduces a lesbian to the staid 165 Eaton Place of 1936 in the form of Alex Kingston’s Dr. Blanche Mottershead, an archaeologist and resolutely modern woman whose romantic past is tinged with bittersweet loss. When her former lover, Lady Portia Alresford (Emilia Fox), now married with children, writes a steamy roman a clef about their time together, Kingston’s Blanche is exposed and 165 Eaton Place is once again plunged into scandal.

“She will shake up the equilibrium in the house a little bit,” Kingston told The Daily Beast. “And by the end of the series, she has done just that.”

For Kingston—who starred on medical drama ER for seven years and who reprises her recurring role on Doctor Who this Saturday—it was Blanche’s sexuality that lured her to the project.

“That more than anything hooked me because I thought it would be quite interesting to play,” said Kingston, 49. “In a curious way, it was almost easier for women to be physical with other women then, because men and society didn’t take it seriously ... It was thought of as a little dalliance that didn’t mean anything. It wasn’t exactly a threat to the patriarchy and to the world that men had created ... or as much as a societal threat that it became later, actually.”

The series doesn’t shy away from depicting the romance between the two women, showing them embracing and in bed together, as well as in several sexually charged scenes. (It led the Daily Mail to write, as a headline, “Pass the smelling salts, Hudson! The lesbian bedroom scenes that would NEVER have appeared in the original Upstairs Downstairs.”) Kingston’s Blanche is positioned as a whiskey-drinking free thinker whose career choice—looking at the relics of the past—is juxtaposed with her view toward the future. It’s no accident that she appears in the series just as the world teeters on the brink of World War II.

“The Second World War radically changed how society live, what family meant, and what women’s roles were,” Kingston said. “Blanche is right on the cusp of all of that. She had created a career for herself, as an archaeologist sought out by the British Museum for her expertise ... in comparison to Lady Agnes [Keeley Hawes], who really didn’t know who she was or what her function was, other than looking rather beautiful in the house and producing babies for her husband. Blanche is not prepared to be that woman.”

Continue reading at The Daily Beast...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pilot Inspektor: CBS' "Smith"

I may just have to change my original "What I'll Be Watching This Fall" post, as I sat down and finally watched CBS' new crime drama Smith this weekend. (What? It's taken me a long time to make my way through the stack of pilot DVDs.) While it's on following Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars on Tuesday nights (10 pm ET/PT, to be exact), I'm going to be sure to leave enough room on my TiVo to make sure that I catch this compelling, amoral drama. While one can't help but be impressed by what might just be the most marquee-friendly cast in primetime--Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Jonny Lee Miller, Amy Smart, Simon Baker, and Franky G all star and Shohreh Aghdashloo has a recurring role--the pilot's premise alone earned major points in my book: it's a crime drama from the point of view of the criminals, who engage in high-stakes heists. But don't be alarmed; it's nothing like NBC's short-lived Heist . Instead, think of it as The Italian

The Daily Beast: "How The Killing Went Wrong"

While the uproar over the U.S. version of The Killing has quieted, the show is still a pale imitation of the Danish series on which it is based. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "How The Killing Went Wrong," in which I look at how The Killing has handled itself during its second season, and compare it to the stunning and electrifying original Danish series, Forbrydelsen , on which it is based. (I recently watched all 20 episodes of Forbrydelsen over a few evenings.) The original is a mind-blowing and gut-wrenching work of genius. It’s not necessary to rehash the anger that followed in the wake of the conclusion last June of the first season of AMC’s mystery drama The Killing, based on Søren Sveistrup’s landmark Danish show Forbrydelsen, which follows the murder of a schoolgirl and its impact on the people whose lives the investigation touches upon. What followed were irate reviews, burnished with the “burning intensity of 10,000 white-hot suns

What's Done is Done: The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Evil on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Every story begins with thread. It's up to the storyteller to determine just how much they need to parcel out, what pattern they're making, and when to cut it short and tie it off. With last night's penultimate season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, we began to see the pattern that Lindelof and Cuse have been designing towards the last five seasons of this serpentine series. And it was only fitting that the two-hour finale, which pushes us on the road to the final season of Lost , should begin with thread, a loom, and a tapestry. Would Jack follow through on his plan to detonate the island and therefore reset their lives aboard Oceanic Flight 815 ? Why did Locke want to kill Jacob? What caused The Incident? What was in the box and just what lies in the shadow of the statue? We got the answers to these in a two-hour season finale that didn't quite pack the same emotional wallop of previous season