Beecham House

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Beecham House
GenreHistorical period drama
Created by
Written by
  • Gurinder Chadha
  • Paul Mayeda Berges
  • Shahrukh Husain
  • Victor Levin
Directed byGurinder Chadha
Composers
  • Natalie Holt
  • Craig Pruess
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes6
Production
Executive producers
  • Gurinder Chadha
  • Paul Mayeda Burges
  • Victor Levin
  • Deepak Nayar
Producers
  • Caroline Levy
  • Sandra Shuttleworth
  • Rakesh Singh
Production locationIndia
CinematographyNiels Reedtz Johansen
Running time45 mins
Production companyBend it TV
DistributorFremantleMedia International
Release
Original networkITV
Picture format1080p
Audio formatStereo
Original release23 June (2019-06-23) –
21 July 2019 (2019-07-21)

Beecham House is a British historical drama television series set in 1795,[1] co-created, directed and produced by Gurinder Chadha.[2] The six-part series was announced in August 2018[3] and was first broadcast on Sunday 23 June 2019. The series, set in Delhi during the Mughal period, depicts the lives of the Beecham family in their newly bought house.[4] The family is headed by John Beecham, a former soldier with the East India Company who is "determined to make the house his safe haven".[5]

The series was promoted as a "Delhi Downton Abbey", which was repeated by many critics. It received mixed reviews, with critics feeling that it did not live up to expectations as a radical historical drama, but that it remained entertaining for viewers of melodramatic period soap operas.

Despite the cliffhanger ending, ITV did not renew for a second season.[6]

Cast[edit]

All listed cast appeared in at least 2 episodes.

Character Actor
Main
John Beecham Tom Bateman
Henrietta Beecham Lesley Nicol
Begum Samru Lara Dutta
Daniel Beecham Leo Suter
Margaret Osborne Dakota Blue Richards
Benoît Castillon Grégory Fitoussi
Chandrika Pallavi Sharda
Violet Woodhouse Bessie Carter
Murad Beg Adil Ray
Baadal Viveik Kalra
Mool Chand Kulvinder Ghir
Bindu Goldy Notay
Chanchal Shriya Pilgaonkar
Ram Lal Amer Chadha-Patel
Maya Trupti Khamkar
Shah Alam II Roshan Seth
Samuel Parker Marc Warren
Recurring
Maharaja of Kalyan Denzil Smith
Gopal Vicky Arora
August Beecham Shona Oberoi
Sienna Oberoi
Vijay Singh Arunoday Singh
Roshanara Medha Shankar
Akbar II Rudraksh Singh
Empress Tisca Chopra
Princess Maliya Kumiko Chadha Berges
Prince Kareem Ronak Chadha Berges

Episodes[edit]

No.Title [7]Directed byWritten byOriginal air date [7]UK viewers
(millions)
1"Episode 1"Gurinder ChadhaGurinder Chadha & Paul Mayeda Berges23 June 2019 (2019-06-23)4.44
Three years after coming to the aid of wealthy travellers under attack, John Beecham arrives at his new home with armed guards and a mysterious infant. John befriends neighbour Murad Bag and his daughter's governess Margaret Osborne. John's mother Henrietta arrives with Violet Woodhouse, respectively seeking his return to England and marriage; they and Margaret are surprised when John introduces his son, August. John offers former comrade-in-arms Samuel Parker a business partnership. Samuel soon learns the location of John's brother Daniel, whose presence nearby with an East India Company expedition could jeopardize John's chances of obtaining a trading licence.
2"Episode 2"Gurinder ChadhaGurinder Chadha & Paul Mayeda Berges24 June 2019 (2019-06-24)4.17
John and Samuel retrieve Daniel from a brothel and bring him to John's home to treat a gunshot wound and reunite the family. In their absence, Chandrika is received by the guards but no one else knows her identity or relationship to John and his child, provoking Henrietta and the staff; John later explains that he is a widower and Chandrika is August's aunt, but that he must keep August's identity secret for his safety. Margaret is unsure if she can trust John; although she has saved funds to return to England, John asks her to stay, expressing his happiness at their acquaintance. Daniel and head steward Baadal vie for the affections of nursemaid Chanchal. Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II and French mercenary Gen. Castillon grow more concerned of John and the East India Company.
3"Episode 3"Gurinder ChadhaShahrukh Husain30 June 2019 (2019-06-30)N/A
John purchases an automaton as a gift for the Empress, but Samuel informs Castillon and it fails to arrive, with guard Gopal found dead under the pier. August's Annaprashana ceremony is held. Violet is attacked in the bazaar while secretly obtaining opium for Henrietta. Margaret receives a request from the Empress which requires her to remain in Delhi. She uses her connections to deduce the automaton's location, enabling John and his companions to retrieve it and present it at the Mughal court, earning John a trading licence.
4"Episode 4"Gurinder ChadhaVictor Levin7 July 2019 (2019-07-07)3.57
John is compromised when Mughal heir Prince Akbar II brings him the Star of Agua diamond to secretly sell outside of India without the Emperor's permission, in order to raise an army to defend against the East India Company. Daniel has an affair with Chanchal. Henrietta experiences delirium from the strong opium and is chastised by Daniel. John's past is revealed: After leaving the East India Company due to its cruelty, he travelled and learned of art and culture. Three years ago, he was wounded saving the Maharaja of Kalyan whose brother sought to usurp him. He married the Maharaja's daughter and they had August, but she was killed in an assassination attempt on the child. This led John to fake the death of August, the Maharaja's heir, and take the child away in secrecy.
5"Episode 5"Gurinder ChadhaVictor Levin14 July 2019 (2019-07-14)N/A
Daniel is recalled to duty, devastating Chanchal who reveals that she is pregnant and expected Daniel to marry her. Badaal shelters Chanchal at his family home. Samuel arranged buyers for the diamond but John is arrested for stealing from the Emperor. Daniel follows Samuel to a meeting with Castillon and sneaks into the prison to speak with John. John refuses to name his accomplice, the prince, and realizes that he was betrayed by Samuel, whose purpose in forcing John to return to England remains unclear.
6"Episode 6"Gurinder ChadhaVictor Levin21 July 2019 (2019-07-21)3.49
The servants help Henrietta through withdrawal. The Empress forbids the prince from confessing his misdeeds. August becomes distressed in Chanchal's absence, so Daniel retrieves her. Chanchal says that she will raise their child alone if Daniel doesn't marry her, while Baadal asks her to think of him as a husband. Samuel negotiates for John to be exiled, determined that they both testify in London of the East India Company's atrocities and thereby restore his reputation. Chandrika brings her father to speak with the Emperor; with information from Margaret, the two threatened rulers discuss events and making way for their successors. Samuel's plans are thwarted at the last moment when John's release is ordered by the prince, now come into power; in desperation, Samuel stabs Castillon but John raises an alarm. Some time later, after selling the diamond, John takes Margaret to the Taj Mahal and they become engaged. However, they are watched by a fugitive Samuel, and return to Beecham House to find a dozen guards and servants dead or wounded, and August kidnapped.

Production[edit]

Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges conceived the series while working on the film Viceroy's House.[citation needed] They took inspiration from Downton Abbey, while mixing English and Indian cultures.[8]

It was produced by Chandra's Bend It TV,[9] which is partly owned by distributor Freemantle Media.[10]

Filming began in Ealing Studios in August 2018.[11] Additional filming took place in Rajasthan and Delhi throughout 2018.[12]

International broadcast[edit]

The series began airing in the United States on 14 June 2020 as part of the Masterpiece anthology series on PBS. Three months prior to its North American broadcast, the series was available for streaming on PBS Passport, leading a digital-first release strategy which coincided with the network's March pledge drive.[13] In Australia, the series began airing on Network 10 from 11 July 2020. It was also made available on its catchup service 10 Play prior to its broadcast.

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

The series opened to disappointing domestic overnight ratings, its premiere receiving 2.6 million viewers, ITV's lowest audience for a drama premiere in that timeslot since 2015.[14]

Critical response[edit]

The series received mixed reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that the series received 46% favourable reviews based on 13 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3 out of 10.[15] Metacritic gave it a score of 44/100, based on 4 reviews.[16]

Several critics found the series to be cliched and predictable.[17][18][19] Rachel Cooke of the New Statesman called it a "parade of cliché and desperation" which evoked laughter at the wrong moments[8] while Jasper Rees of The Daily Telegraph felt as though the production may have been "conjured up by algorithm".[20]

Another criticism was its lack of insight on the complex historical period,[21] with Lucy Mangan of The Guardian and Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette particularly disappointed in the use of protagonist John Beecham as a "white saviour" figure.[17][22] Beecham's assurances to those he meets in the first episode were found repetitive,[17][19] with Rees and Sarah Osman of Artfuse finding Bateman's performance lacking[20] and Matt Roush of TV Insider quoting another character's perception of Beecham as "the dullest man in Delhi".[23]

The art direction, costumes, and location shoots were well received,[18][20][24] with Carol Midgley of The Sunday Times calling it "a feast for the eyes"[25] and Roush stating "You won't find a more gorgeous series all summer".[23]

Alison Rowat of The Herald gave the series 4 out of 5 stars, praising the art direction and several performances, but felt that it lacked the humour of Downton Abbey.[26] Midgley gave the series 3 out of 5 stars, writing that "Beecham has everything a Sunday-night hero needs".[25] Roush described the series as a "historical soap"[23] and Adam Sweeting of The Arts Desk called it a "melodramatic fantasy".[21]

Distinctions[edit]

Joanna Eatwell was nominated for a 2020 BAFTA Television Award for Best Costume Design for the series.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Gurinder Chadha OBE on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on 26 June 2019. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  2. ^ Clarke, Stewart (20 March 2018). "ITV Orders Period Drama 'Beecham House' From 'Bend It Like Beckham' Director Gurinder Chadha". Variety. Archived from the original on 31 August 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  3. ^ "ITV announces star-studded period drama Beecham House". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 26 June 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  4. ^ Maheshwri, Neha (9 October 2018). "Pallavi Sharda plays a princess in Gurinder Chadha's period drama - Times of India". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 9 October 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  5. ^ "ITV commissions epic new drama Beecham House". ITV Press Centre. 20 March 2018. Archived from the original on 31 August 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  6. ^ "ITV finally reveals if there will be more 'Beecham House'". 5 December 2019. Archived from the original on 6 February 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Beecham House – Listings". Archived from the original on 24 June 2019. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  8. ^ a b Cooke, Rachel (26 June 2019). "ITV's Beecham House is desperately clichéd period drama". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 29 June 2019. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  9. ^ "Worlds collide and passions flare when BEECHAM HOUSE premieres on 10". tvblackbox.com (Press release). 20 June 2020. Archived from the original on 17 August 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  10. ^ Barraclough, Leo; Hopewell, John (2 April 2017). "'Bend It Like Beckham' Director Gurinder Chadha Teams With FremantleMedia for Drive Into TV". Variety. Archived from the original on 20 August 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  11. ^ Christie, Janet (25 August 2018). "Interview: Tom Bateman". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 31 August 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  12. ^ Shetty, Anjali (29 August 2018). "It all happened in a week: Shriya Pilgaonkar". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 29 August 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  13. ^ Garron, Barry (11 February 2020). "'Masterpiece' tests digital-first release strategy for steamy costume drama". Current. Archived from the original on 13 September 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  14. ^ Parker, Robin (24 June 2019). "Beecham House opens to 2.5m". Broacastnow. Media Business Insight Limited. Archived from the original on 24 June 2019. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  15. ^ "Beecham House: Season 1 (2017–2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 7 September 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  16. ^ "Beecham House : Season 1". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 18 July 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  17. ^ a b c Mangan, Lucy (24 June 2019). "Beecham House review – one man and his beard try to save India". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 15 July 2020. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  18. ^ a b Cumming, Ed (22 May 2020). "Beecham House review: ITV's clunky period drama is all tell and no show". Archived from the original on 22 July 2020. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  19. ^ a b Robson, Jeff (23 June 2019). "Beecham House, ITV, review: 'Downton Abbey' in Delhi urgently needs extra spice". iNews. Archived from the original on 13 September 2020. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  20. ^ a b c Rees, Jasper (24 June 2019). "Beecham House, episode 1, review: An ambitious drama with a worryingly wooden hero". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Ltd. Archived from the original on 21 August 2019. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  21. ^ a b Sweeting, Adam (24 June 2019). "Beecham House, ITV review - a cartoon version of 18th century India". The Arts Desk. Archived from the original on 13 April 2020. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  22. ^ Owen, Rob (11 June 2020). "Tuned In: 'Grantchester' returns to 'Masterpiece' as 'Beecham House' premieres". Archived from the original on 20 July 2020. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  23. ^ a b c Roush, Matt (12 June 2020). "Roush Review: A Gorgeous Escape to 'Beecham House'". TV Insider. Archived from the original on 20 August 2020. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  24. ^ Osman, Sarah (23 June 2020). "Television Review: "Beecham House" — A Steamy Passage to India". The Arts Fuse. Archived from the original on 11 September 2020. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  25. ^ a b Midgley, Carol (24 June 2019). "Beecham House review — our new Sunday-night hero: brooding Beecham". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  26. ^ Rowat, Alison. "Beecham House Season 1 episode one review". The Herald. Archived from the original on 24 June 2019. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  27. ^ "ODILE DICKS-MIREAUX Chernobyl - COSTUME DESIGN". BAFTA. Archived from the original on 2 August 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2020. Nominated: JOANNA EATWELL Beecham House – Bend It TV/ITV

External links[edit]