Just like ITV’s Downton Abbey, this show focuses just as much on the staff downstairs as the elite upstairs, with the cultural as well as class divide giving Beecham House extra spice.
1. There’s plenty of love and war
Set in 1795, this sumptuous period drama follows the life of Englishman John Beecham, a former soldier who’s turned his back on the military after witnessing exploitation carried out by the British East India Company.
Arriving in Delhi with dreams of trading on his own terms, John is plunged into a web of alliances and betrayal with the city’s elite. Determined to keep his dark past under wraps, he finds himself on a collision course with a dangerous enemy, while reignited passions in his personal life means he soon has to risk his freedom to protect those he loves.
Tom Bateman, who plays John, explains: “He’s inherently a very good man who’s trying to do the right thing, but he’s been through the wars. He knows exactly what the consequences could be of his actions but he goes ahead anyway. It’s a family drama at its heart but you really get the feel of the political tension behind everything.
2. It’s the Downton of Delhi
John’s Delhi home is not exactly shabby; he moves into a stunning mansion complete with a team of staff who are as intrigued by their new boss as viewers will be. Just like ITV’s Downton Abbey, this show focuses just as much on the staff downstairs as the elite upstairs, with the cultural as well as class divide giving Beecham House extra spice.
Actress Lesley Nicol famously plays cook Beryl Patmore in Downton but now she’s moved upstairs to take on the role of John’s snobby mum Henrita. She can see why the show’s been dubbed ‘Delhi Downton’ but adds: “I don’t think it’s any more comparable than that really. It’s a different period, a different country. It’s a house with servants and people upstairs but it’s a whole different tone, a whole different feel to it."
3. The Beecham brothers will give Ross Poldark a run for his money in the TV hunk stakes
While all the focus is on John Beecham to start with, it’s not long before fans get to meet his brother Daniel. Together these hunky brothers and their swashbuckling antics are sure to catch the eye of fans around the country, but expect sparks to fly as sibling rivalries are reignited when the brothers come face to face.
Leo Sutter, who plays Daniel, explains: “Daniel looks up to his brother, but he feels John has not looked out for him in the way he would have expected or wanted. So there’s a deep anger and resentment inside him. He’s John’s younger brother and behaves badly compared to John! He doesn’t have John’s morals. He has enjoyed being a cad and revelling in the sort of lawless nature of the East India Company at that time.”
4. There’s a ‘who’s the mummy?’ secret that will keep everyone guessing
When John pulls up to the doors of his Delhi mansion, his staff are shocked to discover he’s not alone. With him is sultry Chanchal and in her arms is his son August, but who is the child’s mother?
It’s a secret John is determined to keep, but with his nosey staff watching his every move and his relentless mother in the mix, he’s got a fight on his hands. “He’s got a baby but there’s no mother and he doesn’t tell anybody anything about that, which instantly makes you think something’s going on because otherwise why wouldn’t he just tell people who the baby’s mother is?” says Tom Bateman.
Chanchal’s closeness with John and his baby will rub a few people up the wrong way but Shriya Pilgaonkar, who plays the nursemaid, says her character will demand respect. She adds: “John has always treated her as family so she’s not going to let anyone undermine her position in the house. As a person, she’s very secure. She does what she has to do to maintain her status.”
5. We see India in all its glory
The location of Beecham House is a character in its own right. Shot across multiple areas in India, the series draws you in from the first second.
For writer and director Gurinda Chadha there was no question that she was going to film her series in India. “You can’t beat India on camera,” she says. “One of the things about India that existed long before the British came along, and carried on long after they left, and will carry on, is their architecture, the palaces, the forts. We have used many, many shots of those amazing buildings and that is India, for me. You cannot shoot that anywhere else.”