When the saga of the upstairs Bellamy family and their downstairs servants in the BAFTA Award- winning series Upstairs Downstairs finally ended in 1975 there were, understandably, many ideas bandied about for spin-off series'. Two of the characters that the public had taken to heart were Thomas Watkins, the Bellamy's chauffeur, and Sarah, their nursery maid (played by real-life husband and wife John Alderton and Pauline Collins).
At a memorial service for Cyril Bennett, the LWT Controller who had died in November 1976, his successor Michael Grade agreed to do a programme with Alderton and Collins. Former Upstairs Downstairs script editor Alfred Shaughnessy and series producer John Hawkesworth put forward the idea for Thomas and Sarah originally to be called In Confidence. Hawkesworth was commissioned to write a synopsis for the programme which became the only spin-off from Upstairs, Downstairs. Surreal and dramatic with sharp entertaining scripts Thomas and Sarah proved to be yet another success when first broadcast in 1979.
Alfred Shaughnessy later wrote episodes for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Cedar Tree, The Irish R.M. and All Creatures Great and Small. John Hawkesworth produced the BBC drama The Duchess of Duke Street, and created as well as produced the 1979 Euston Films series Danger UXB for Thames Television. During the 1980s, he produced many television programmes including The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Alderton and Collins later teamed up for another ITV series, Forever Green.
Published on February 6th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.