Beecham House: Is Beecham House like Downton Abbey?

ITV launched Beecham House on Sunday, June 23 as audiences were plunged into 18th Century India at a time of uncertainty and change. Beecham House follows the charismatic John Beecham (played by Tom Bateman) who tries to build a new life for himself after leaving the East India Company. The show was created by Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha and features an all-star cast and some sumptuous costumes and locations.

Is Beecham House like Downton Abbey?

Unsurprisingly, Beecham House are garnered comparison to Downton Abbey.

On a superficial level, both are Sunday night ITV period dramas with large casts based in a grand house.

The programmes also share fast-paced narratives filled with characters with secrets and lots of twists and turns.

IS BEECHAM HOUSE BASED ON A TRUE STORY? and other media spoke to Downton Abbey and Beecham House actress Lesley Nicol and creator Chadha about their thoughts on the comparisons between the two shows.

Nicol, who is better known as Mrs Patmore from Downton to global audiences, explained the costumes and sets were similar in their production values as well as the show being set in a big house.

“But I think it’s its own thing, I think, in its own right. It’s not something that’s been done before in the same way that Downton was similar in its own way, so we’re just hoping that it’s got its own legs.”


Nicol also said: “Honestly, I struggle with that because in my mind, Beecham House has its own identity, it’s its own thing.

“I don’t believe there’s been anything like it before. The only parallel I can see is its house with servants because it’s a different country, a different era.

“It’s a totally different style and I’d like it to be there on its own in its own right. I don’t see a lot of comparisons, to be honest.”


In Beecham House, Nicol portrays John’s mother Henrietta Beecham who has ambitions for her son to marry her family friend Violet Woodhouse (Bessie Carter).

“It was wonderful because Gurinder’s written a part that’s got lots of layers. you know, a proper arc to it, a journey to it as have most of the characters, actually. So it was huge fun to play.”

Speaking about landing the role, Nicol said she was in “complete shock and surprise”.

“One day it landed in my inbox from my agent and I went, ‘Really?’ Because I am unusual casting for this, I think. Because I never get to go upstairs! It’s taken a long time everybody, by the way!


“It was a big surprise and then of course I loved the show. I’d been to India once before for work and I couldn’t wait to get back. So, it was all round surprising and brilliant.”

Chadha said of the character: “The character of Henrietta only just makes it upstairs. She’s not the ladyship. But that’s interesting in the sense she’s not guarded with what she says and does.

“What she is, is incredibly warm and if I was going to have someone spouting all this, what I call “genially racist dialogue”, I need someone warm. Again, it’s truthful. You think that and she could say that.”

Of the comparisons to Downton, the star said: “We do blur those upstairs, downstairs boundaries, I think.”

Beecham House airs on ITV on Sundays at 9pm

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