Critical Condition: Beecham House

Beecham House | SoHo2, 8.30 Wednesday

☆☆☆☆ “ITV’s new drama Beecham House is set in late 18th-century India where the British and French were still battling it out for supremacy … It’s just as well that the series is produced, directed and co-written by Gurinder Chadha, the maker of Bhaji on the Beach and Bend It Like Beckham. Otherwise, it might be quite hard to accept the idea that this is a radical piece of work designed to undermine the usual stereotypes of the Brits in India. At times, in fact, we might even think that it’s a bit corny.” — The Spectator.

☆☆☆ “As a standard ITV drama it would be risible – a meagre, basic plot being parcelled out by actors constrained by lines that make them sound as if they are giving dictation to a secretary they have every reason not to trust. But as a passion project of the rightly feted director Gurinder Chadha, that was touted as a corrective to the tradition of period dramas that prioritise and do not sufficiently problematise the white colonial version of history, it is simply bizarre.” — The Guardian.

☆☆☆☆ “ITV’s new six-part primetime period drama Beecham House is set in 18th-century Delhi. It has been pitched as a kind of Murghal Downton Abbeybut it feels more like Jane Austen’s Marigold Hotel, a spoof of itself so cheesy that it practically wafts off the screen.” — Independent.

☆☆☆☆ “The selling point of Gurinder Chadha’s series Beecham House was supposedly the equal emphasis on both Indian and European characters. But as this Poldark with turbans features mostly stereotypes, it feels like a hollow victory …. It’s lovely to look at, but the well-meaning desire to graft on modern attitudes creates a moral muddle.” — Financial Times.

☆☆☆☆ “Chadha and her regular co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges have teamed up with Shahrukh Husain, with William Dalrymple advising on the history.  The result is splendid to look at, and its take on complex geopolitics  is commendably ambitious. But Beecham House will grip only if the hero transforms from wood to flesh.” — The Telegraph.

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