Hudson (Gordon Jackson) is recuperating after a heart attack.

The Understudy is the tenth episode of the final series of the 1970s UK period drama, Upstairs, Downstairs. It is written by Jeremy Paul and directed by James Ormerod. This episode focuses on the often nebulous line of succession which is rare in downstairs servant hierarchy.


It is September 1926 and Richard is having the French Ambassador, M. Fleariau, and his wife and daughter to dinner. Virginia is in Scotland and can not return as she has a bad fever.

Georgina offers to cancel her sailing weekend to act as host, and she persuades James to cancel his day of polo to give her support.

On the evening of the dinner, Hudson collapses and Dr. Foley, the Bellamy family's long-time physician, is sent for instantly. He confirms that Hudson had a mild heart attack. A debate then starts downstairs as to who will take Hudson's place that evening as butler, with Daisy heavily pushing for her husband Edward, but Frederick believing it should be himself.

Upstairs, although James favors his old friend, Frederick, Georgina and Richard go for Edward, who performs his duties as butler very well. However, he nearly makes one error when he forgets to decant the claret, but Frederick reminds him to do so and as such, disaster is averted.

Dr. Foley says that Hudson needs a couple of months to recuperate, and it is arranged for him to go and stay with Mr and Mrs. Tranter, a couple who live down on the Southwold estate. Once again, they argue upstairs as to who should act as butler while Hudson is away.

James again favors Frederick, but Richard, Georgina and Virginia (via the telephone) all favor Edward, and he is chosen. Before he goes, Hudson tells Mrs. Bridges that he has left everything he has to her should he die, and Mrs. Bridges says she has done the same for him. As he leaves, Mrs Bridges cries.

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