LONDON – Tom Bateman, Lesley Nicol, Gregory Fitoussi, Adil Ray, Marc Warren, Pallavi Sharda, Dakota Blue Richards, Leo Suter and Bessie Carter have been cast in ITV’s epic new drama Beecham House, from award winning production company Bend It TV.
Set on the cusp of the 19th century in Delhi before the British ruled in that region, the drama depicts the fortunes of the residents of Beecham House, an imposing mansion surrounded by acres of exotic woods and pristine lawns.
Tom Bateman (Vanity Fair, Jekyll and Hyde) takes the role of enigmatic, soulful John Beecham, a handsome former soldier who has purchased the magnificent mansion Beecham House to begin a new life with his family.
Wealthy and distinguished, John has witnessed profiteering and exploitation during his time with the controlling East India Company and has resolved to conduct his business as a trader in a more equitable manner. Determined to escape his previous life, John appears haunted by his past, but is inspired to become an honourable member of the region’s trading community.
In spite of John’s good intentions his life is shrouded in mystery and when he arrives at the house with an ‘olive-skinned’ child named August and two Indian nursemaids, Chanchal (Shriya Pilgaonkar) and Maya (Trupti Khamkar), it causes speculation and gossip amongst the servants that he may be the boy’s father. One of the Indian nursemaids, the beautiful Chanchal, is overly protective and particularly fond of the child. Could she be John’s lover and the mother of August?
Lesley Nicol (Downton Abbey) is John’s robust, interfering mother Henrietta who has travelled from England to India to stay with her son. She is accompanied by a young family friend Violet, played by Bessie Carter (Les Miserables) who she is determined to help form a union with John.
The pair are accompanied by an old friend of John’s, Samuel Parker, played by Marc Warren (Safe, Hustle) who has also left the East India Company and has returned to India for a fresh start. Samuel helps John to find his brother Daniel who he has not seen for 10 years. John convinces Daniel, Leo Suter, (Victoria) to leave the East India Company and join him at Beecham House.
Gregory Fitoussi (Mr Selfridge, Spiral) plays General Castillon, a French mercenary working for the Emperor at a time when the French are challenging the East India Company for India. Castillon is suspicious of John and his motives and conspires to stop John being granted a trading licence.
Adil Ray (Citizen Khan, Ackley Bridge) is John’s neighbour Murad Beg who dislikes General Castillon intensely and agrees to help John secure a trading licence. Murad’s daughter, Roshanara, (Kanika Kapur) has an English governess Margaret Osborne, played by Dakota Blue Richards (Endeavour) whose beauty and intelligence catches John’s attention. However, when beautiful Chandrika (Pallavi Sharda) arrives at Beecham House with her entourage she is shown to luxurious guest quarters and immediately insists on seeing August. What secrets does Chandrika bring with her to Beecham House?
Beecham House has been commissioned for ITV by Head of Drama, Polly Hill.
Polly Hill commented: “I am delighted to commission this epic and ambitious new drama from the brilliant Gurinder Chadha. Tom Bateman is perfect casting as John Beecham and we’re thrilled Lesley Nicol, Adil Ray, Pallavi Sharda, Marc Warren and Gregory Fitoussi have agreed to play such key roles. Gurinder brings a fresh take to period drama, but at its heart are wonderful characters and a compelling story that will make this a treat in the ITV schedule next year.”
Gurinder Chadha commented: “Beecham House is a passion project that is driven by my commitment to telling diverse, emotionally engaging stories for mainstream international audiences. I am thrilled to be working with Polly Hill and ITV Drama who share my belief that period drama can be entertaining, ambitious and relevant to key issues of today. I am assembling a vibrant cast of British and Indian actors to play original characters that will appeal to global audiences hungry to see stories from a unique point of view. I grew up with Raj dramas like Jewel in the Crown, The Far Pavilions and A Passage To India. Beecham House is my chance to tell those stories from a British Asian perspective.”
The six part series which has started filming in August in India and at Ealing Studios was co-created by Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham, Viceroy’s House, Bhaji On The Beach) and Shahrukh Husain (In Custody).
It was written by Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges (Viceroy’s House, The Mistress of Spices, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging) Victor Levin (Destination Wedding, Mad Men, Mad About You) and Shahrukh Husain. Caroline Levy (Hooten & the Lady, Inspector George Gently, The Mill) is the Series Producer, with Gurinder Chadha directing episodes one to three and Peter Lydon (Poirot, Secret Diary of A Call Girl) directing episodes four to six. Acclaimed writer and international renowned expert on this period in India, William Dalrymple, and Shahrukh Husain are historical consultants for the series.
FremantleMedia International will act as the global distributor for the series.