ITV period drama Beecham House began on Sunday, June 23 with an immersive tale following the life and times of former East India Company man-turned-independent merchant John Beecham (played by Tom Bateman). John and his adventures involving his family form the basis of the drama. From his past in the East India Company to the present with his mother Henrietta Beecham (Lesley Nicol) trying to marry him off, John certainly seems to have a colourful life.
Was John Beecham a real person?
Speaking to media including Express.co.uk, lead star Bateman shared his thoughts on the lead character.
“He’s mysterious. I suppose he’s good and strong. That doesn’t mean he’s perfect and he’s right. In fact, he’s very wrong,” Bateman explained.
“What I like about him is that there are certain points where he thinks he’s so right and he’s wrong.”
IS BEECHAM HOUSE BASED ON A TRUE STORY?
Bateman was drawn to the show by the “beauty of the characters and the stories”.
He went on to say: “I think what good drama deals with is human beings and human beings unfortunately don’t change.
“Our environment, our situation changes but the way we deal with things is already a Greek tragedy and it still applies. But I think it’s very current at the moment, it’s very political charged at the moment.
WHERE IS BEECHAM HOUSE FILMED?
“So as soon as you put many different races together, trying to find a way to work together, of course it’s going to have political ramifications. Personally, it’s not why I set out to make the drama”.
The Jekyll and Hyde and Vanity Fair actor came to the project early on and had about four or five weeks to prepare, leading him to research and read “a hell of a lot”.
“I assumed I knew about India but my god, the country is incredible,” he explained. “The amount of times it’s been invaded and taken back over, and people’s attitudes and the way different cultures have affected it,”
WHO IS IN THE CAST OF BEECHAM HOUSE?
Although the time period and some of the characters are historically accurate, John and his family are not real.
Among the characters on real-life figures are Begum Samru (Lara Dutta), who was the head of the mercenary army in the 18th Century and Emperor Shah Alam (Roshan Seth) who is based on the 16th Mughal Emperor.
Creator and director Gurinder Chadha said she was inspired to write the drama following all the research she’d gathered while working on the Indian Partition film Viceroy’s House starring Gillian Anderson and Hugh Bonneville.
IN WHAT YEAR IS BEECHAM HOUSE SET?
Chadha explained most people didn’t know about India and wanted to explore this period in the nation’s history.
“I think the interesting thing was choosing that period – 1795 – because most people would have a particular idea about India,” Chanda said, listing the British Empire, Gandhi and partition as the main points in Indian history within the public consciousness.
She went on to state: “People generally don’t know about how the beginning of that relationship started.”
“That was an interesting period for me and what really fascinated me was the mechanics of how India became part of the Empire.”
Beecham House airs on ITV on Sundays at 9pm
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