A SUITABLE MARRIAGE is the fifth episode of the first season and the fifth episode overall of the 1970's Period Drama, Upstairs, Downstairs.
The episode was written by Jeremy Paul and directed by Joan Kemp-Welch.
It was one of six episodes from the first season that had been filmed in Black and White due to a Technicians strike that had paralyzed what is now ITV.
This episode also marked the first appearance of Joan Benham in the recurring role of Lady Prudence Fairfax, who was a close friend of the Bellamy family.
Elizabeth, after her disastrous debut at the Londonderry House ball, which she fled from being presented to the King and Queen in the previous episode, The Path of Duty, had quite settled down and was dating a Scottish man named Angus McAllister, the son of a powerful Scottish politician.
It was presumed that the two would marry, as he was thought to have been suitable for her by her parents, Richard Bellamy and Lady Marjorie Bellamy, but Elizabeth was not in love with the Scotsman and breaks off the engagement.
Lady Marjorie gets advice from her oldest and best friend, Lady Prudence Fairfax, about Elizabeth, while having tea. They would also talk later on at a fabric store where Prudence is buying some material for some new dresses for herself and her daughter, Agatha, a ravishing girl who was about the same age as Elizabeth.
Elizabeth herself then talked with her father, and then with her part-time lady's maid, Rose and asked their advice. A resolved Elizabeth came up with an idea to take Rose to a German leider concert, where the celebrated German singer, Elena Gerhardt, was performing. Rose was bored with the music, but once she got used to it, it was all right.
When she and Rose returned, Elizabeth is told by Hudson that there was a visitor in the drawing room upstairs. The visitor was revealed to be a Baron Klaus von Rimmer (Horst Janson), who had been an acquaintance of Elizabeth's during her school days in Dresden, having met her during a tennis party.
At first, he charmed everyone in the house, although Richard had suspicions of the young German, who had been saying that he worked as a banker. It was later proven that the banking story was a lie.
The Baron was asked to stay at 165 Eaton Place (he had been staying in some lodgings in Victoria), and Lady Marjorie asked Alfred Harris, normally the footman, to become the visitor's valet.
As time passed, Elizabeth fell deeply in love with the Baron, which disturbed Richard, and he had a feeling that the Baron was not all he seemed. To that end, he met up with a friend of his, Sir Adam Blake (James Bree), a naval spy catcher, and the two set up a plan to trap the duplicitous Baron.
Richard confronted the Baron and got the real story out of him. The fact that he was really a munitions salesman, and that he was looking to curry favor from the ruling government. Despite the fact that Richard, a member of the Committee of Imperial Defense, was not a member of the royal cabinet (due to the liberals being in power), Baron von Rimmer thought that he could use his acquaintance with Elizabeth and thereby maneuver his way into the Bellamy household.
In a council of war, Richard and Sir Adam compared notes and decided that they should try to trap him at a dinner party they were having before Christmas.
At the dinner, only Lady Prudence, and Sir Adam, who held a running grudge against one another, due to an incident in Sevastopol (at that time, part of pre-Soviet Russia) some years previous, were invited from outside of the family.
However, Elizabeth was not happy. The Baron was not in love with her and she did not know why. She then asked Rose to run a bath for her. Upon hearing the Baron was bathing, she shocked Rose by saying she would go and slide in with him! Rose was appalled, but Elizabeth laughed and said, "Oh, don't be so shocked, Rose, we're living in modern times."
A minute later, Rose really WAS appalled at what she saw. She was delivering some towels to the Baron's guest room and discovered that he was in the midst of sexual relations with Alfred!
Apparently, he was in love with the footman, which explained why he wasn't in love with Elizabeth. The Baron forcefully slammed the door in her face. She went down the stairs sobbing, to the astonishment and disdain of Lady Prudence and Sir Adam, who were being let in by Hudson.
After getting Sir Adam's coat removed, the butler stormed downstairs and demanded to know what was going on. Rose tried to explain, but was still crying. Alfred denied what had happened saying "it has nowt to do with me!" Rose later reassured Hudson that she was fine and ready to resume her duties.
Later on, though, she saw Alfred being calm as a cucumber while serving drinks, and it forced her to tell Hudson what had happened and what she had seen.
Hudson calmly sent Rose to go down to the dining room and wait at table. Rose was still concerned that Alfred would be there. Hudson reassured his head house parlor maid that Alfred would be dealt with harshly and would be sacked and out of the house. After cautioning her to not say a word to anyone, he sent Rose to her new duties.
After a few minutes, Hudson sternly told Alfred to go to his pantry and stay there and talk to nobody until he was seen. He then told Richard what had happened and what Rose had seen. Richard was astonished at how corrupt the Baron really was (not to mention the fact that von Rimmer was a homosexual, which was a crime in the UK in those days), but it was important that the plans had to stay where they were.
Richard had a detective inspector arriving from Scotland Yard during that point, and it was clear that the Baron had to stay for at least two hours, which at that time, the German spy would be duly arrested.
However, unbeknownst to both men, Alfred, who had knowingly disobeyed Hudson's orders, heard the whole conversation, and tipped off the Baron about what was going to happen to him. The Baron went and made a telephone call, but when Elizabeth went up to get him for dinner, his room was empty, bag and baggage, and he took Alfred with him.
The Bellamys were upset, more so over the upset that Elizabeth had received at the hands of the Baron, than whatever criminality he had committed to Richard. As for Alfred, whom Bellamy dismissed by saying that he and von Rimmer "deserved each other", he was never spoken of again.
Alfred would make one final appearance in the third season episode, Rose's Pigeon, where he was revealed to have been sacked by von Rimmer's new wife, who did not like Alfred and was jealous of his and von Rimmer's bond, and then he worked for a Lithuanian bachelor man whom he murdered.
He manipulated Rose to take him in, and care for him, which nearly got Rose in trouble with Hudson, who did not like him and was still furious at him for what he had been involved with in the case of von Rimmer. After a servant's dinner, Alfred took his successor, Edward Barnes, hostage at knifepoint, but the plucky Edward fought him, succeeded in disarming him of his knife, and got away, while Alfred was arrested and then hanged for murder.