Distant Thunder is the 12th episode of the third season of the 1970s UK period drama, Upstairs, Downstairs. It was written by the script supervisor, Alfred Shaughnessy and directed by Bill Bain.
The episode focuses on the tensions between the two families upstairs and below stairs during a rare heat wave in London, and the possibility of war.
In the midst of a relentless London heat wave, which is rather unusual for the city, which is often rainy and foggy, tensions are rampant between everyone both upstairs and downstairs.
Hazel suffers a miscarriage and a callous James is indifferent toward his wife's distress, as his focus is now on his step-cousin, Georgina , who has come to live at Eaton Place. Rose is upset with James' behavior; and she and Angus Hudson have been sniping at one another mercilessly over little things.
Hazel is determined to run the house, despite her miscarriage, but the upstairs family tries to keep her off her feet, until she has been better.
Richard is alarmed at his son's cruel and cavalier behavior, and things come to a vicious head when Hazel and James engage in a fierce argument over her place in the house. She was downstairs in the kitchen helping poor Ruby with the cooking, which she is not able to do on her own. (Mrs. Bridges was sick with the chills which explained Ruby working in the kitchen on her own.) Hazel just as callously tells her husband that it was just as well that her baby died.
Richard intervenes and the two of them have a very nasty row about how he is treating Hazel. A furious James demands that his father move out of the household.
Downstairs, Rose and Hudson also get into a nasty row about their places in the domestic hierarchy. Rose lashes out at Hudson about how Hazel needs her and how jealous he is about that, while Hudson demands that Rose return to her real job as the house parlor maid. Rose shouts that Hazel likes her and she knows that Hudson doesn't like her. Hudson yells that she is lying, and Rose screams back that "I AM NOT A LIAR!!!"
The yelling gets so violent and so hostile, that Daisy becomes scared and petrified at watching her two superiors violently arguing. She then bursts into tears.
Hudson and Rose cease their argument and they team up to help calm her down, and Daisy feels better again. After that, Hudson and Rose mend their fractured relations and are back to somewhat normal.
As Britain is about to become engulfed in the First World War, the occupants of 165, both upstairs and down, are uncertain what the future will bring. At the end of the episode, Georgina, Hazel, James and Richard are playing Bridge, and all are worried about what could come, but are still placid for the time being.