FIRST created back in the late 1960s by actor friends Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, the original TV run of Upstairs, Downstairs ran on ITV from 1971 to 1975.

Set in a large townhouse in Edwardian London during the First World War, it gave the people of the 1970s a chance to mull on the UK's ever-present class divide that was a little more clearly defined in the earlier part of the century. That divide is perhaps becoming more clearly defined once again, thanks to a global capitalism that has not only caused the greatest recession since, well, The Great Depression, but it has seen the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The perfect time, then, to bring back Upstairs, Downstairs, for three new episodes over consecutive nights -- this time on the UK taxpayer's moolah. Which seems fitting.

Aunt Beeb is clearly determined to make an impact with their latest period drama -- the return of Upstairs, Downstairs even made the BBC's 6pm news back on December 15. There are foreign sales and best-selling DVDs at stake, and the BBC are leaving nothing to chance.

Those with a fondness for the original series will be pleased to discover that original stars and co-creators Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins are still alive and kicking here -- but the rest of 164 Eaton Place in fashionable Belgravia has altered somewhat. It's 1936, and the new lady of the house, Lady Agnes Holland (Keeley Hawes) and her diplomat husband, Hallam (Ed Stoppard), have returned to England to an inherited stately home that has fallen into a cobweb-filled slumber over the last six years. And they're going to need some new staff. So, they turn to the trusty Buck's of Belgravia, an agency run by, yep, our Rose (Atkins).

The line-up of staff covers all the usual suspects for such occasions -- you half expect them all to launch into a rousing chorus of Be Our Guest at any given moment.

The fly in the ointment -- beyond rumblings of something ominous on Europe's stage and the sudden death of the King -- is the arrival of a rather troublesome in-law (Atkins), who has brought along her secretary, and Solomon, her pet monkey. Oh, and oodles of attitude, and wisdom -- just enough to wind up her daughter-in-law.

It's all done in the best possible taste, and the fact that one member of staff is dragged away by police just before the closing credits suggests some real intrigue beyond all the finery and impeccable manners.

It may at times ring just as hollow as one of its inspirations, the Canadian lo-fi mock-doc sitcom The Trailer Park Boys, but there's something sweetly, shamelessly Irish about the internet-bred Hardy Bucks.

Having won RTE's 2009 Storyland competition, the travails of hustlers and bustlers in the Co Mayo town of Castletown is the creation of Martin Moloney (who plays lead loser Eddie Durkan) and Chris Tordoff (his tormentor, the Viper). It's basically Boyz in the Mud, as these would-be gangstas fight it out over cars, bars, girls, kebabs, and the pipe-dream of actually becoming a success at something. All that really matters, of course, is what's in that pipe.

Last night, it was Christmas in Castletown, and that meant fights with men in deer costumes, fights with freshly-chopped Xmas trees, and a much-coveted hamper ending up in the hands of the Viper, who spent the big day in his car, dealing drugs, ding, dong, merrily on hash.

Thankfully, far more Father Ted than Killinaskully, the do-it-yourself approach of Hardy Bucks is both its strength and its weakness. The jokes are scattershot, like a late-night drinking session where everything and anything just might be funny. When Eddie Durkan closes by saying they "pulled it off in a roundabout sort of way", he might as well be talking about the show itself.

Still, it's better than a kick up the hole in the winter.