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

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

Me Want Food: Jenna Gets Famously Fat on "30 Rock"

I don't know about you, but I've already ordered my "Me Want Food" t-shirt from the NBC store. Last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Jack Gets in the Game") was, in my opinion, one of the strongest of the series and has officially pushed the zany comedy into the realm of Arrested Development : deftly plotted and intricately layered, with so many jokes piled atop of jokes that it requires several viewings in order to catch them all. While at its heart, 30 Rock is a workplace comedy, it's left that narrow pigeonhole behind to become a witty example of how intelligent and taut humor can work (and flourish) on television... and exist in harmony with hilarious throwaways like the Thriller -inspired Werewolf Bar Mitzvah music video that would have done the AD crew proud. I want Will Arnett to appear on this series whenever possible. His gay exec Devin is hilarious, manipulative, and has an inexplicable weakness for Kenneth the Page, but he claims to have

"Gilmore" Guy: Who is New Showrunner David Rosenthal?

A few days later and I am still processing the news that Gilmore Girls showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino--and her exceptionally talented husband, writer and producer Daniel Palladino-- announced their departure from the whip-smart drama after six seasons. The news wouldn't be such a blow, save for the fact that Gilmore Girls is as much about Amy and Daniel as it is about Lorelai and Rory. In their capable hands, the show explored a supremely complicated family dynamic through the beautiful friendship of mother and daughter Lorelai and Rory... and did so with smart dialogue usually found in a Nick & Nora film rather than on television. Zany subplots abounded as did quirky, beloved supporting characters. And now, after six seasons (including this most recent--and very shaky--season where Amy and Daniel wrote less episodes than usual), Amy and Daniel are passing on the showrunning torch to... Dave Rosenthal?!? For those of you in the audience unfamiliar with David Rosenthal ,