Skip to main content

Philip Glenister: ‘My Belgravia character sounds like Del Boy!’

Philip Glenister in Belgravia

Philip Glenister reveals all about his role in ITV period drama Belgravia from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes

Philip Glenister is digging out his top hat and unleashing a spectacular pair of sideburns to star in ITV’s lavish new period drama Belgravia.

Adapted by Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes from his own 2016 novel, the six-part series is set in the 1840s and sees Life on Mars star Philip play James Trenchard, a former market trader who has become a property developer in the wealthy London area of Belgravia.

But the lives of James and his wife Anne (Episodes’ Tamsin Greig) become embroiled with that of wealthy Lady Brockenhurst (Harriet Walter) after a secret from 25 years before returns to haunt them…

We asked Philip Glenister to reveal more about his role in ITV period drama Belgravia…

What was the appeal of Belgravia for you?

Philip Glenister: “It’s strange I tend to do a costume drama every 10 years. And I thought it was time! No, I was very nicely offered it and I read the book. No offence to Julian but it wouldn't normally be the sort of book I would read. But it was a bit of a thriller and a page-turner. I just thought, ‘Wow, this is good!’”

Tell us about James

PG: “James sounds like a cross between Donald Trump and Del Boy! He’s a self-made man from humble beginnings and is keen to become part of high society but he makes an oaf of himself. He’s not ruthless, he’s fair, but not averse to getting on the side of the right people…”

Tamsin Greig and Philip Glenister in Belgravia

Tamsin Greig and Philip Glenister as Anne and James Trenchard in Belgravia

What’s his marriage to Anne like?

PG: “He's married well above his station in many respects. But they do have this bond, they love each other. And James couldn't be the man that he purports to be without Anne by his side. But he has kept a secret that causes a rift.”

Have you had to learn about the period?

PG: “Yes, we had a couple of etiquette guys on set and they were incredibly helpful. They told us how to stand with the top hat, and when you’ve finished eating, where you put your knife and fork. All these little details have been fun."

And are they your own sideburns?!

PG: “I did try growing them but I would have needed about two-and-a-half years! So they made me some. I had them in Life on Mars too. So I’m going to get it in my contract that I have to have big mutton-chops in everything!”

Belgravia begins on Sunday 15 March on ITV at 9pm