Tom Bateman on why Beecham House isn’t ‘Downton in Delhi!’

Tom Bateman as John Beecham in Beecham House
Tom Bateman as John Beecham in Beecham House

Tom Bateman spills the beans about ITV’s action-packed India-set period drama Beecham House...

The vibrancy, romance and political tensions of late 18th century India are brought to life in ITV’s sumptuous period drama Beecham House.

Set in 1795, the series, created by Bend it Like Beckham's Gurinder Chadha, centres on enigmatic John Beecham (Vanity Fair star Tom Bateman), a one-time soldier who wants to start a new life at his Delhi mansion Beecham House and become an independent trader. But he faces obstacles due to bitter local rivalries and his arrival with a mixed race baby, August, sparks gossip.

Here Tom Bateman reveals all to TV Times about his role in Beecham House…

TV Times: Tell us about John

Tom Bateman: “He’s fascinating. In India then, there was tension from foreign nations taking over. It was like the Wild West, there were no rules. John wants fair trade instead of abuse of power, but he needs a trade licence and there’s opposition. It’s not an easy road.”

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TVT: His personal life causes ructions though doesn’t it?

TB: “Yes there’s darkness, secrets and lies but at heart he’s a good man. He’s drawn to Margaret Osborne [an English governess played by Dakota Blue Richards], because she’s independent and forward-thinking. But John’s secrets impact on their relationship because he has turned up with this baby and people wonder, ‘Where is the mother?’”

The cast of Beecham House

Secrets and lies in ITV's India-set period drama Beecham House, starring Tom Bateman (Image credit: Nicky Johnston)

TVT: The exteriors were shot in India, what was it like filming there?

TB: “Exciting! We even filmed at the Taj Mahal. One of the Indian actresses said that filming in India is like guerrilla warfare, you just turn up and shoot. Someone would say, ‘It’d be good to get a shot from that cliff,’ and two minutes later a dude would strap a camera to his back and be climbing up a mountain.”

TVT: How did you deal with the heat?

TB: “We got treated well. As soon as we said we were hot we’d have ice packs strapped to our head and cold flannels. But for once, the men have it worse than women in terms of costume because they had dresses but I had boots, trousers and a big coat.”

TVT: Are there lots of stunts?

TB: “Yes, John can take care of himself. Within two seconds, you’ll think, ‘This isn’t Downton Abbey!’ Although ‘Downton in Delhi’ is a great headline! There’s a lot of pounding through the countryside on horseback and guns and swords being drawn. The crew said, ‘We have a stuntman.’ But I said, ‘No I want to gallop over that hill!’”

Beecham House airs on Sunday 23 June and Monday 24 June at 9pm on ITV

Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.