Upstairs, Downstairs creator Eileen Atkins pulls out of Keats Festival

Dame Eileen Atkins, co-creator of Upstairs, Downstairs

Dame Eileen Atkins, co-creator of Upstairs, Downstairs - Credit: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment

A celebrated actress, whose poetry reading was set to be the highlight of an annual Hampstead festival, has pulled out.

Dame Eileen Atkins, co-creator of classic BBC drama Upstairs, Downstairs, was to read a selection of poetry by 19th century poet John Keats with veteran stage actor Simon Russell Beale as part of the week-long Keats Festival on June 12.

But she was forced to pull out as she will be filming on the day of the Spoken Keats event at Keats House, Keats Grove. A spokesman for the City of London Corporation, which runs the house, said: “She was very sorry to duck out.”

The City hopes to find another actor to read poetry with Mr Beale, who currently plays the title character in King Lear at the National Theatre.

Keats Festival runs from Saturday, June 7 until Sunday, June 15.

Visitors can enjoy a family day of poetry writing with former children’s laureate Michael Rosen on June 15 as well as a screen-writing workshop with James Ragan, who has worked on The Godfather and The Deer Hunter, on June 13.