MISS FORREST is the first episode of the Third Series of the 1970's period drama, Upstairs, Downstairs. It was written by Alfred Shaughnessy and directed by Bill Bain.
This episode also marks the final appearance of Rachel Gurney as Richard's wife, Lady Marjorie Bellamy, as she is one of those who perishes in the sinking of the Titanic.
James returns home from his new job as a clerk at a business house in London, to have tea with his mother, Lady Marjorie Bellamy. She and her husband, Richard Bellamy are taking a road trip to Syon, a nearby community, to do some visiting with the Lord of Northumber, before she goes on a two month trip to America to see Elizabeth, who had emigrated there with her new husband, Dana Wallace, an American lawyer, and her daughter, Lucy.
Lady Marjorie is worried about James, as she usually is, and hopes that he can help out his father and the staff. He promises to do so. Meanwhile, in the study, Richard is working with his newly hired secretary named Hazel Forrest, a young woman from Wimbledon. Hazel was hired on to help Richard with his book on the life of his late father in-law, Lord Southwold, who had recently died.
During the weekend that Richard and Lady Marjorie are out of the house, Hazel comes in to work on what Richard had for her to do, so that it would be ready on that Monday. James comes into the study and tries to get to know Hazel as he is very smitten by her, once again falling for someone who is not on the same level of class that he is.
In an effort to show off and try to impress her, James sends back the simple lunch that his mother had ordered Mrs. Bridges to make for the secretary and then he impulsively decides to have luncheon in the dining room, with Hazel as his guest. The change in plans angers and annoys the servants, putting them in a very awkward position.
To make matters worse, James insists on a specific Claret wine being served at luncheon, a wine which is NOT to be served at luncheon by the standing orders of his father, Richard. Angus Hudson, the butler, complains about the orders, but James angrily orders him to obey his orders, as he states that in the absence of his parents, he is in charge of the house. Hudson reluctantly obeys, but he makes his displeasure of what was going on known.
Meanwhile, Hudson and Rose are clearing the dining room from the luncheon. Hudson making clear his disdain for what James had done. Rose tried to make him see reason, but something clicked in him that he knew what had to be done. He then bade Rose to clear the dining room on her own, and this allowed him to do what had to be done.
After Hazel leaves for the day, Hudson confronts James on his behavior, but it doesn't seem to sink in. Hudson then tells James that because his orders were not in line with the way his parents standing rules in the house were set up, he has made a decision that he is going to give his parents a weeks notice and then he is going to leave the Bellamy's employ for good. James dismisses it as talk, and doesn't feel concerned.
When his parents return home from Syon, Hudson goes and does as he promised to do. James is confronted by both his mother and father over what he had done and what Hudson had told them.
While his mother takes his side on it, as she always does; Richard proceeds to pin his ears back. Lady Marjorie also demands that Richard terminate Hazel's engagement, which he refuses to do, believing that the entire incident was, rightly, James's fault, and is angered that Marjorie would make his secretary the scapegoat.
James then concedes that maybe he DID make an error in judgment in bringing Miss Forrest to the dining room and countermanding his mother's orders, and then offers to apologize to Hudson.
Meanwhile downstairs, Kate Bridges tells Hudson that he should not have given notice, although he insisted that the reason he did so was to make his parents aware of what he was doing with his recklessness.
However, the words of the cook sink in as they always seem to, and the next day, as preparations are made for Lady Marjorie to go on her trip, Hudson speaks to her, and rescinds his notice, which makes Lady Marjorie pleased, and James and Hudson bury their grudge.
At the end of the episode, Richard gets word that his publisher is thrilled with the manuscript about his late father in-law. He then sends a Marconi-gram to the ship that his wife was on. The RMS Titanic and the date was April 12th, 1912, the night the ship tragically hit an iceberg and would sink in the cold North Atlantic.