'Beecham House's Begum Samru Is Based On A Badass IRL Historical Figure

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Nothing completes a perfect Sunday evening like a good old fashioned TV drama, and with the arrival of ITV's Beecham House, it seems we have a brand new series to sink our teeth into. The ITV show is based in Delhi, India, and follows the story of a former soldier who moves into a newly bought mansion, with hopes of starting a new chapter in life with his family. Indian actor Lara Dutta plays Begum Samru in Beecham House — a character inspired by a real-life historical figure. But who is Begum Samru? Here's everything you need to know.

According to The Hindu, Begum Samru is predominantly known as being the only Roman Catholic ruler in India. She was born 80 miles outside of Delhi, and trained as a dancer during her childhood. In her teenage years, Begum Samru caught the attention of an Austrian mercenary named Walter Joseph Reinhardt, whom she eventually married. Three years after her husband's death, Samru converted to Catholicism and changed her name to Joanna, a name inspired by Joan of Arc. According to the Radio Times, Samru also became the head of a professionally trained mercenary army, and, in 1820, the construction on her very own church, known as Basilica of Our Lady of Graces, was completed.

As mentioned previously, the famous Indian figure will be portrayed by actor Lara Dutta. According to the Radio Times, Dutta also works as a model and beauty queen, and emerged victorious in Miss Universe 2000. In addition to Beecham House, Dutta has also appeared in films such as Kaal, Masti, No Entry, Chalo Dilli, and David. As reported by iNews, Begum Samru is not the only historical figure to be included on the ITV drama, because the character of Emperor Shah Alam is based on the real-life 16th Mughal Emperor.

According to The Sun, the new series takes place on the brink of the 19th century, and follows the story of John Beecham as he moves into a new mansion along with his family in Delhi, India. However, despite enjoying a fresh start, Beecham is seemingly haunted by his past life. As reported by iNews, Beecham House director Gurinder Chadha, who is best known for her work on Bend It Like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice, has previously described the series as a "flipping radical thing" due to its diverse cast and important storyline. Speaking to the Radio Times, she said, "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. That’s a flipping radical thing."

Rather unusually, Beecham House will kick off with not one but two episodes — the first of which will air at 9 p.m. on Sunday, June 23 on ITV1. The second episode will air the following evening on Monday, June 24, in the same time slot, and the remainder of the six-part series will then continue to air weekly every Sunday night.

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