A Family Gathering is the second season finale and the 26th episode overall of the 1970s UK period Drama, Upstairs, Downstairs. It was written by Alfred Shaughnessy and directed by Raymond Menmuir. This episode features the death of King Edward, VII; the return of James with a new fiancée, and Elizabeth's troubles with her paramour, Julius Karekin.
This episode also marks the final appearance in the series of Nicola Pagett as Elizabeth Bellamy, as she left the show after a perceived slight over being passed over for an Upstairs, Downstairs movie which was never made. The show explained her disappearance as Elizabeth had met and married an American Lawyer named Dana Wallace, and she emigrated to New York where she lived and remained for the rest of the series' run. This also marks the final appearances of Pauline Collins as the former under-house Parlor maid, Sarah Moffat; and of John Alderton as Sarah's husband, Thomas Watkins. Also, British-American actress, Jane Carr (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie; Dear John) guest starred in this episode as under-house parlor maid, Joan.
Elizabeth owns a hat shop called Chez Mme. Yvonne's in the London neighborhood of Mayfair, thanks to the help of her current paramour, Julius Karekin, an Armenian who was later revealed to be only with Elizabeth for his own selfish means. He used her to gain access to the family and their social circle. He made it clear to Elizabeth that whatever they had is over; he tells her that he was a philanderer and only used her to gain access to her father. After throwing her over; he makes a gift to her of the house, which she promptly gives to her parents.
Meanwhile, her brother, James returns with a new fiancée, a woman named Phyllis Kingman, whom he met while on the Suez Canal. She was a daughter of a Horse Veterinarian, and had lived with her dad in India, which was where she met James. Her bold and rather forward manner rattles his mother, Lady Marjorie. Phyllis made a better impression with the servants, although she also a bit course with them as well.
Elizabeth was also a bit more put out with her, because of her troubles in dealing with Karekin. However, she and Phyllis go shopping at the nearby Army and Navy Store and are on the road to becoming friends.
As it was Lady Marjorie's birthday, both upstairs and downstairs indulge in celebrations. While upstairs, only Lady Prudence Fairfax is invited from outside of the family, the upstairs celebration gets a shocking surprise when former servants Thomas Watkins and Sarah, make a visit to Lady Marjorie and she gives her a gift of a scarf which amazes and touches her deeply.
A rattled Hudson, who had been told by Rose that Thomas and Sarah had come to the front door, ushers the two down to the Servants Hall to see their old friends. After this episode, neither Thomas or Sarah are ever seen again on the series, although Sarah is mentioned from time to time in subsequent seasons.
However a phone call from Buckingham Palace ends all celebrations abruptly when it is announced that the King had passed away. Everyone is busy mourning him, and both Upstairs and downstairs are quietly ending their evenings.
As the chimes of Big Ben toll solemnly, the Bellamys and Lady Prudence reflect upon the past decade and King Edward's relatively short reign (which Lady Prudence remarks that the children have a new date to remember for their history exams) and look forward to the decade ahead.