Beecham House is an ambitious drama series for ITV UK from Gurinder Chadha, the writer, director and producer responsible for Bend It Like Beckham, and her company, Bend It TV.
Distributed worldwide by Fremantle, the drama is set at the turn of the 19th century in Delhi and follows the fortunes of John Beecham, a former soldier turned trader, and his young family.
Written by Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges, Shahrukh Husain and Victor Levin, the six-part series was filmed in India last year. Superficially, it continues a UK tradition that includes films and series like Jewel In The Crown, Far Pavilions, A Passage To India and Gandhi.
But Chadha said: “Those productions were from a British point of view. Here the opportunity was to tell the story of the British in India from the perspective of a British Asian. So we are giving the audience something they’re familiar with, but a bit different.”
Chadha said one interesting dimension to the project is that “there are no heroes and villains. I try to create complex characters that you come to understand through their actions and their conflicts. I feel the best dramas are where you think you know someone is a good person and they turn out to be the opposite.”
For Fremantle, a key question is whether the show will sell well – perhaps even on the scale of another ITV show, Downton Abbey.
“People love dramas set in India,” Chadha said. “I wanted to do something with the scale of Downton – a handsome show where you care about an ensemble of characters, but at the same time the politics of the time affects them. So in that respect the two come together.”
Top photo: Gurinder Chadha (centre) with the cast & crew of Beecham House on the MIPTV/CANNESERIES pink carpet: (left to right): co-creator Paul Berges and actors Pallavi Sharda, Gregory Fitoussi & Tom Bateman