These Key Characters In ITV's 'Beecham House' Are Based On Some IRL Public Figures

by Emma Madden

Arriving to ITV1 on Sunday, June 23 at 9 p.m. Beecham House is set to be your favourite new drama that you can't wait to tune into every week. But, with a plot line as historically rich as this one, I want to know: is Beecham House based on a true story? Let's dig in to the inspiration behind this exciting new show.

Well, according to ITV, this six-part drama takes place during a very important time in history, but uses fictional characters to explore the complexities of this time period. As ITV explains:

"Set on the cusp of the 19th century in Delhi before the British ruled in that region, the drama depicts the fortunes of the residents of Beecham House, an imposing mansion surrounded by acres of exotic woods and pristine lawns."

Sound familiar? Well, as actor Tom Bateman, who plays John Beecham, one of the show's leads, told what'sontv: "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." And yes, Bateman does his own stunts.

However, even though Beecham House is based on a fictional estate, which hosts fictional dramas, there are some elements of the show that have been plucked straight out from the history books.

Lara Dutta's character of Begum Samru, although having reportedly lived in a period a little earlier than Beecham House's 19th-century timeline, is very much a real person. This character is set to be both a highly entertaining and a somewhat educational addition to the show.


For those not yet in the know, Samru is an 18th-century Indian feminist icon, having fled her life as a dancing girl and later becoming the head of a thousands-strong mercenary army.

In addition, there is another historical figure within the show. As iNews reports, Emperor Shah Alam, who is played by actor Roshan Seth, is based on "the 16th Mughal Emperor who presided over the crumbling empire."

Gurdiner Chadha is the mastermind behind the new ITV show, and I reckon she's the only person who'd be up to the task of creating something this brilliant. You'll probably know Chadha best for bringing the glorious footie-based film Bend It Like Beckham into the world, but, with Beecham House, Chandha's truly outdone herself.

While this project isn't exactly an outlier within Chandha's body of work, as it continues her mission of "telling diverse, emotionally engaging stories for mainstream international audiences," as she said in a statement for ITV, Beecham House will be something incredibly refreshing for British audiences.

In fact, more than refreshing, this show is set to be "flipping radical," as Chanda herself explained in an interview with the Radio Times (via the Guardian). "The most exciting thing is simply having Indians in period costumes on primetime British TV — where their lives and loves are as important as their white counterparts," Chanda told the Radio Times. She continued: "Most children in British schools aren’t even told now that there was an empire, that the British ruled India ... Of course it’s wrong." Chanda hopes this show will be a chance for British viewers to educate themselves about the country's history of colonialism.

I for one can't wait to watch this show every week; Sunday June 23 can't come soon enough.