A Guide to the Cast & Characters of Beecham House
Now introducing: The illustrious, talented cast of Beecham House and the characters they play! Get to know the stars of the all-new MASTERPIECE series, and how they would each describe their characters in their own words. From a former Downton Abbey star, to an Endeavour star, a Sanditon star and more, see if you can spot some of the familiar faces on the cast, and learn where else you’ve seen them before.
Tune in for new episodes of Beecham House every Sunday at 10/9c, now through Sunday, July 19. Or, binge every episode now with PBS Passport, an added member benefit.
Tom Bateman as John Beecham
Who is John Beecham? Actor Tom Bateman plays John Beecham, a former soldier with the East India Company who is looking to live quietly and privately under the radar in Delhi with his son, his family, and a small, close knit staff. He is wealthy, distinguished, and mysterious — but secrets can only be kept for so long.
“My characters are normally quite energetic, but John is very strong, quite hard, and you don’t really know who he is at first,” Bateman said of his character. “He internalizes, he’s a man of mystery. … He’s inherently a very good man who’s trying to do the right thing, but he’s been through the wars. He’s also very forward-thinking. He left the East India Company because he didn’t agree with the way they did things which, at the time, was very bold.”
Bateman continued on: “He’s a brave man. He says a line in it: ‘Bravery is not being afraid of nothing. It’s being afraid but being able to stand up against it anyway.’ That’s really what John is about. He knows exactly what the consequences could be of his actions but he goes ahead anyway.”
Who is Tom Bateman? Before his days as the leading man of Beecham House, Bateman was best known for roles in films such as Murder on the Orient Express (with fellow MASTERPIECE stars such as Cranford’s Judi Dench, Les Misérables‘ Olivia Colman and Derek Jacobi, and more!), Snatched, and in series such as Vanity Fair, Jekyll & Hyde and Da Vinci’s Demons.
To learn more fun facts about the series’ star, check out our list of fun facts about Tom Bateman!
Lesley Nicol as Henrietta Beecham
Who is Henrietta Beecham? After six seasons and a feature length film as beloved chef Mrs. Patmore on Downton Abbey, Lesley Nicol traded in her apron for finery and stepped into the upstairs role of Henrietta Beecham, John’s overbearing and difficult mother. When Henrietta arrives in Delhi with family friend Violet Woodhouse (Bessie Carter) in tow, she’s in for just as many surprises as everyone else around John.
“On the face of it [Henrietta’s] a very respectable, god-fearing, upper middle-class woman, very conservative,” Nicol explained. The relationship between her and her sons, especially John, can be strained at times, but there’s love there, as well, according to Nicol.
“There’s definitely a base love that they all have for each other,” she said. “But Henrietta is challenging, there’s no doubt about it, and [John’s] not been quite ready to tell her everything that’s going on in his life when she turns up. She has to try and deal with all of this information and she’s not easy to be around because the whole experience has thrown her so much.”
It’s very much a whole new world for the family matriarch. “She is tough, but she’s from a very narrow world. And suddenly she’s in a household with dozens of servants, the food’s all wrong, she gets bitten by mosquitos, she will not wear anything cooler even though it’s baking hot. It’s a different religion, it’s all completely foreign to her.”
Who is Lesley Nicol? Nicol is best known for playing Mrs. Patmore for six seasons of Downton Abbey (plus the feature film that followed!). Previous to that, Nicol was best known for playing Mrs. Beaver in the 1988 The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe film and for voicing characters in series such as Sarah & Duck and Goldie and Bear.
Leo Suter as Daniel Beecham
Who is Daniel Beecham? Fresh off starring in Sanditon as Young Stringer, the kind-hearted laborer contending for Charlotte Heywood’s heart, Leo Suter is back in Beecham House as troubled, wayward younger brother Daniel. According to Suter, Daniel certainly “behaves badly compared to John!”
“He doesn’t have John’s morals,” Suter explained. “He has enjoyed being a cad and reveling in the sort of lawless nature of the East India Company at that time.”
After an injury while working with the East India Company, Daniel is found by his brother in a brothel—quite the opening for the wild child of the family. “It demonstrates the tragic relationship he has with his brother,” he said. “These two boys have lost their father and find themselves on the other side of the world. Daniel looks up to his brother, but he feels John has not looked out for him in the way he would have expected or wanted. So there’s a deep anger and resentment inside him.”
Who is Leo Suter? In addition to his recent roles starring in Sanditon and Beecham House, Suter was known for his role as the tragically-fated Drummond in Season 2 of Victoria.
To learn more about Suter, check out this interview with MASTERPIECE from his Sanditon days!
Marc Warren as Samuel Parker
Who is Samuel Parker? Marc Warren plays John Beecham’s old friend from the East India Company and new business partner Samuel Parker. “He arrives with John’s mother Henrietta and their family friend, Violet. Samuel ends up working for John, but then things transpire…” Warren teased.
“You never really know what it is that Samuel truly wants or what his motivation is,” he explained. “I guess he wants justice from the East India Company, and he wants financial gain because he’s a ruined man. He lost money when his shipment went down so he’s seeking John’s help. He’s a nice guy with a bit of a twinkle but he does have some ulterior motives going on that unravel as the series progresses.”
Who is Marc Warren? Aside from Beecham House, Warren is also known for his roles in Band of Brothers, Green Street Hooligans, and The Good Wife. Up next, Warren will be starring in the upcoming series Van der Valk. (To learn more about Van der Valk and upcoming MASTERPIECE Mystery! series, check out our list here!)
Dakota Blue Richards as Margaret Osborne
Who is Margaret Osborne? Endeavour alumna Dakota Blue Richards plays Margaret Osborne, an English governess living in India who finds herself drawn into John Beecham’s world and the mysteries that surround him.
“She reminds [John] of home in this world in which they are both outsiders,” the actress explained. “She has a real sweetness and an openness to her. She tries to see the best in people even when they’re quite horrible to her. She’s forgiving. But she’s learned to be hardy. She’s been abandoned by her brother in India, and there’s a mention of a fiancé at one point. She’s obviously been mistreated in the past and she’s very adamant she won’t be mistreated again. She has this sweetness but also behind that is a resilience and a strength that carries her through this experience.”
Who is Dakota Blue Richards? Previously, Richards starred as WPC Shirley Trewlove in Endeavour. She’s also known for her past roles in the TV series Skins and in the 2007 film The Golden Compass.
Listen to Richards’ interview with the MASTERPIECE Studio Podcast from her days playing WPC Trewlove here.
Pallavi Sharda as Chandrika
Who is Chandrika? Pallavi Sharda plays the beautifully mysterious Chandrika, who arrives at John’s home unannounced, and without any explanation, leaving the other inhabitants of the house with more questions than answers.
“People really don’t like her when she first arrives because she exudes authority and takes ownership of Beecham House,” Sharda explained. “Immediately there’s friction between Chandrika and John’s family. They don’t warm to her at all. …But it doesn’t bother her because she’s there for one reason only, and that’s to fulfill a duty that she believes very strongly in. The politics of the house, as far as she’s concerned, are beneath her.”
“She’s a real enigma which is what I really love about her,” Sharda said of her character. “She’s such a strong, real woman, and so empowered for a woman of her time. Her father is a powerful man and she has a connection to John Beecham so she’s quite entitled, but she always feels confident to voice her opinion and you don’t really expect that so much for women in that period.”
Who is Pallavi Sharda? In addition to Beecham House role, Sharda is also known for her role in the film Lion, alongside Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, and in the TV series Pulse.
Shriya Pilgaonkar as Chanchal
Who is Chanchal? Baby August’s nursemaid Chanchal is played by Shriya Pilgaonkar. One of John’s most trusted staffers, Chanchal is a free-spirited girl with big dreams of love and adventure—and who gives her heart away perhaps too easily.
“John has always treated her as family, so she’s not going to let anyone undermine her position in the house,” Pilgaonkar said of Chanchal. “She is the nursemaid for the baby and everyone else comes second, in her mind.”
“She’s never experienced love, so you see her discovering things about herself, and dealing with two men in her life,” she went on. “She’s quite uninhibited considering when Beecham House is set. She doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind. I like that she is flirty! Gurinder [Chadha] describes her as ‘saucy’ which is my favorite new word. She has a lot of layers.”
Who is Shriya Pilgaonkar? Pilgaonkar has previously appeared in the film House Arrest and in the Indian TV series Mirzapur.
Bessie Carter as Violet Woodhouse
Who is Violet Woodhouse? Bessie Carter (daughter of Downton Abbey star Jim Carter, a.k.a. Mr. Carson, and actress Imelda Staunton) plays Violet Woodhouse, a family friend of the Beecham family from their home in England. Violet travels with Mrs. Beecham to India to stay with John at his new estate—and also with the hopes of catching his eye (and, perhaps, an engagement).
“The only goal for Violet, as it would have been for all young women at that time, was to be married,” Carter explained. “She’s clearly got fire and courage to have gone on that journey, and she’s loyal to Mrs. Beecham. She’s just a product of the society she’s grown up in—she sings at the piano and she cares about material things and getting married because that’s what’s expected of her. It’s not her fault. She struggles to adapt to Indian life, which is how many people would have been, but unfortunately that doesn’t compare very well sometimes to the lovely Margaret who just accepts Indian life much more naturally.”
Her inability to adapt is part of what makes her character amusing, Carter said. “She’s quite funny. The way she struggles to integrate provides some of the humor.”
Who is Bessie Carter? MASTERPIECE fans may remember when Carter starred in Howard’s End, which recently ran on MASTERPIECE, or when she appeared in Cranford as Margaret Gidman. She’s also had roles in films such as The Good Liar and Les Misérables.
Grégory Fitoussi as General Castillion
Who is General Castillion? Mr. Selfridge star Grégory Fitoussi plays General Castillion, a French mercenary who serves Emperor Shah Alam and has some friction with John Beecham in Beecham House. “He’s a man of power, he’s been in three wars and he knows exactly what he’s doing,” Fitoussi said. “He has a huge ego and he wants to be respected, but at the same time he’s a guy with a lot of frustrations and he has a temper.”
Fitoussi continued, “The way I see him, he used to have more power but now he’s under orders. …He’s keen to do his job as well as he can and he’s convinced he has to protect the Emperor from John Beecham. At the time the English were trying to get lots more in-roads into India so that’s why he’s suspicious. The threats were coming from everywhere during this time. They didn’t really know who was friends and who was enemies. So my character is a little bit paranoid but I think he’s a smart guy.”
Who is Grégory Fitoussi? Fitoussi previously played Henri Leclair in Mr. Selfridge, and has also appeared in series such as American Odyssey and in the 2013 film World War Z.
Don’t forget, you can binge all of Beecham House, plus fan-favorite series like Downton Abbey, Sanditon, Victoria and much, much more with PBS Passport, an added member benefit.