Given that it was co-created and written by one of the UK’s most respected film-makers, Gurinder Chadha, perhaps it is no surprise that Beecham House has attracted some big-name actors from Britain, India – and beyond.
Set at the very end of the 18th century in Delhi before the British had consolidated power in that region, this six-part drama follows the story of John Beecham (Tom Bateman) and his family, friends and enemies.
Here are the characters you need to meet – and the actors who play them…
Tom Bateman plays John Beecham
Who is John Beecham? Described as “enigmatic” and “soulful”, John Beecham is a handsome former soldier who has quit the East India Company in disgust at its behaviour towards the Indians. Now, he has purchased a magnificent mansion and renamed it Beecham House – but the servants are surprised when he turns up with a baby boy and two Indian nursemaids in tow.
“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,” ITV says. “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.”
What else has Tom Bateman been in? The actor recently starred as Rawdon Crawley in ITV’s adaptation of Vanity Fair. He played Bouc in Murder on the Orient Express, and Justin Parker in Cold Feet, as well as Robert Jekyll in the TV series Jekyll & Hyde and Guiliano Medici in Da Vinci’s Demons.
Lesley Nicol plays Henrietta Beecham
Who is Henrietta Beecham? John’s interfering mother, who has travelled from her home in England to stay with John in India. Despite not having seen her son for many years, Mrs Beecham feels perfectly entitled to boss him around – and attempt to play matchmaker.
What else has Lesley Nicol been in? Lesley Nicol will be forever remembered as the cook Mrs Patmore from Downton Abbey, a role she’s reprising in the upcoming Downton Abbey movie. Other credits include The Catch, Goldie and Bear, East Is East, and The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe.
Leo Suter plays Daniel Beecham
Who is Daniel Beecham? John Beecham’s younger brother, who is a soldier for the East India Company. The two haven’t seen each other for ten years. Daniel is a bit of a womaniser and a party animal.
What else has Leo Suter been in? As Lord Edward Drummond, Leo Suter had an extremely dramatic role in series two of Victoria. He starred as Jack in the BBC Three series Clique, and also played Young Stringer in Sanditon.
Dakota Blue Richards plays Margaret Osbourne
Who is Margaret Osbourne? An English governess who works for one of John’s neighbours. Her beauty and intelligence immediately captures John’s attention.
What else has Dakota Blue Richards been in? The actress made her debut when she was only a child, playing Lyra in His Dark Materials adaptation The Golden Compass back in 2007. She later starred as Franky Fitzgerald in teen drama Skins, and recently played WPC Shirley Trewlove in Endeavour.
Grégory Fitoussi plays General Castillion
Who is General Castillion? A French mercenary working for the Emperor, at a time when the French are challenging the East India Company for India. General Castillon is suspicious of John, believing him to be an agent of the Company, and plans to prevent John being granted a trading licence.
What else has Grégory Fitoussi been in? The French actor stars as Noah in the TV series Riviera. His other credits include Le Bureau des Légendes, Speakerine, Spiral, Spin, and Mr Selfridge – in which he starred as Henri Leclair.
Bessie Carter plays Violet
Who is Violet? A young family friend who has travelled with Mrs Henrietta Beecham to India. It quickly becomes clear that she was hoping John would agree to marry her.
What else has Bessie Carter been in? You may have spotted her in Howards End as Evie Wilcox, or in Cranford as Margaret Gidman. Really eagle-eyed viewers may even recognise her as a factory woman from 2012 movie Les Misérables.
Adil Ray plays Murad Beg
Who is Murad Beg? John’s neighbour, who dislikes French General Castillon intensely and agrees to help John secure a trading licence. English governess Margaret Osborne teaches his daughter Roshanara (Medha Shankar).
What else has Adil Ray been in? British actor, comedian, TV presenter and writer Adil Ray OBE currently stars as Sadiq Nawaz in Ackley Bridge, and previously played Mr Khan in the TV series Citizen Khan. He sometimes presents Good Morning Britain.
Marc Warren plays Samuel Parker
Who is Samuel Parker? An old friend of John’s. Samuel has also left the East India Company, and has returned to India for a fresh start.
What else has Marc Warren been in? Television roles have included Pete Mayfield in Netflix’s Safe, Albert Blithe in Band of Brothers, Danny Blue in Hustle, Dougie Raymond in The Vice, Bob Fink in Snatch, Dominic Foy in State of Play, Elton Pop in Doctor Who episode Love & Monsters, and Nick Saverese in The Good Wife.
Denzil Smith plays The Maharaja of Kalyan
Who is the Maharaja? A ruler or Hindu prince, from near Mumbai. As episode four reveals, he has a strong connection to John Beecham.
What else has Denzil Smith been in? The Indian actor has appeared in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Delhi Crime, Viceroy’s House (as Muhammad Ali Jinnah) and Mind the Malhotras.
Viveik Kalra plays Baadal
Who is Baadal? A servant at Beecham House, who immediately becomes invaluable to John Beecham.
What else has Viveik Kalra been in? Young actor Viveik Kalra is only just out of drama school, but he has already starred in another ITV drama – 2018’s Next of Kin.
Pallavi Sharda plays Chandrika
Who is Chandrika? A beautiful, high-status woman who arrives at Beecham House with her entourage in tow. What secrets does Chandrika bring with her?
What else has Pallavi Sharda been in? The Australian-born Indian dancer and actress has a string of Hindi films to her name. In 2016, she starred as Prama in the Oscar-nominated movie Lion, alongside Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman.
Kulvinder Ghir plays Cool Chand
Who is Cool Chand? Details of Kulvinder Ghir’s character have yet to be revealed.
What else has Kulvinder Ghir been in? Kulvinder Ghir previously starred in another film by Gurinder Chadha, the creator of Beecham House: he was Teetu in Bend It Like Beckham. He was one of the cast members of BBC sketch show Goodness Gracious Me, and played Aslam in the movie Rita, Sue and Bob Too!, and appeared as Cyril in Still Open All Hours.
Goldy Notay plays Bindu
Who is Bindu? A servant at Beecham House.
What else has Goldy Notay been in? The actress also previously worked with Gurinda Chadha on It’s A Wonderful Afterlife, playing Roopi. She has appeared in Sex and the City 2, The Town, In a Heartbeat, and Silent Witness.
Shriya Pilgaonkar plays Chanchal
Who is Chanchal? An Indian nursemaid who looks after a baby boy called August. She is protective and particularly fond of the child. But could romance be brewing between her and Daniel Beecham?
What else has Shriya Pilgaonkar been in? Previous credits include 13 Mussoorie, Mirzapur, and the Bollywood film Fan.
Trupti Khamkar plays Maya
Who is Maya? An Indian nursemaid who shares the duty of looking after August.
What else has Trupti Khamkar been in? The actress has appeared in Girls Hostel, Coincidence, and Tumhari Sulu.
Roshan Seth plays Emperor Shah Alam
Who is Emperor Shah Alam? Though Beecham House is mainly fictional, Emperor Shah Alam is actually based on a real historical figure. Shah Alam II was the 16th Mughal Emperor and presided over a crumbling empire in India in a period of unrest, reigning from 1760 onwards. Later in his reign he lost his sight, having been blinded by an enemy in 1788. He was also a poet.
What else has Roshan Seth been in? Many will remember him as Nehru from the classic 1982 movie Gandhi, starring Ben Kingsley as Mahatma Gandhi. Among his many acting credits are Indian Summers, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (as Chattar Lal), and – most recently – Dumbo, in which he plays Pramesh Singh.
Amer Chadha-Patel plays Ram Lal
Who is Ram Lal? A servant at Beecham House.
What else has Amer Chadha-Patel been in? Look out for Amer Chadha-Patel as a palace guard in Aladdin. He is soon set to appear in Matt Berry’s Channel 4 comedy Year of the Rabbit, playing Keith.
Lara Dutta plays Begum Samru
Who is Begum Samru? One of the characters in Beecham House who was inspired by a real-life historical figure. Begum Samru was a real woman who existed in 18th century India and was the head of a professional, trained mercenary army.
What else has Lara Dutta been in? The Indian actress, model and beauty queen won Miss Universe 2000, and has starred in movies including Kaal, Masti, No Entry, Chalo Dilli and David.
Medha Shankar plays Roshanara
Who is Roshanara? Daughter of Adil Ray’s character, Murad Beg. She has been brought up with more “Western values” and has an English governess, Margaret Osborne.
What else has Medha Shankar been in? This is her first screen credit.
Tisca Chopra plays the Empress
Who is the Empress? Wife of Emperor Shah Alam. She is a powerful woman and John Beecham must present her with an impressive gift in order to be considered for a trading licence.
What else has Tisca Chopra been in? The actress starred in 24: India, and recently played Dr Mira Anand in the TV series Hostages.
Arunoday Singh plays Vijay Singh
Who is Vijay Singh? The Empress suggests Vijay Singh as a potential marriage match for Roshanara. He is close friends with the Frenchman General Castillion.
What else has Arunoday Singh been in? Credits include Apharan, Naagin and Blackmail. He played the character Asif alongside Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson in Viceroy House.
How can I watch Beecham House in the US?
Beecham House airs on PBS Masterpiece on Sundays at 10/9c.
This article was originally published in June 2019