Find Out Where Beecham House was Filmed
In the words of Beecham House creator Gurinder Chadha: “You can’t beat India on camera.” Learn more about some of the iconic and world famous locations seen in Beecham House, plus get commentary from the cast and crew.
Don’t miss all-new episodes of Beecham House on Sundays, now through July 19 at 10/9c, or watch every episode with PBS Passport, an added member benefit.
John Beecham’s stately mansion is in reality multiple locations making up one grand on-screen home. Shots of the front exterior, such as when John first arrives, were filmed at Hotel Narain Niwas Palace in Jaipur, India, a former country retreat built in 1928. The scenes shot at the rear of the house, such as the staff quarters, the kitchen and the chapel, were filmed at Samode Bagh, the former Mughal style private garden of the Samode royal family.
The interiors of the house were shot not in India but in another country entirely—England. The interiors were filmed at Ealing Studios, where a number of MASTERPIECE favorites have been at least partially filmed, including Downton Abbey and The Durrells in Corfu.
“It’s crazy because if you saw the set in Ealing, it didn’t feel fake at all,” Viviek Kalra (Baadal) told Drama Quarterly. “You’re standing there and thinking it doesn’t look completely real to the eye, but then you look at it on camera and it looks exactly like the real thing, which is a credit to everyone who worked on it.”
Pulling together multiple locations for Beecham House wasn’t the original plan, production designer Michael Ralph told Condé Nast Traveller, but they made it work. “We had other locations booked that didn’t work out,” he said, “so I designed the interior and then chose exteriors I could lay together.”
The historic Chomu Palace near Jaipur set the scene for the home of Murad Beg (played by Adil Ray), John Beecham’s neighbor with a stately mansion of his own. The palace was originally established in the early 17th century, and generations of rulers continued adding onto the building until 1714. These days, Chomu Palace is a luxury hotel, which “revives the gracious lifestyles of the princes of Rajasthan and the heritage of India.”
In the series, General Castillion’s grand headquarters, a stand in for the Red Fort in Delhi was actually the Jaigarh Fort (also known as the Victory Fort), located in Amer, Jaipur. The fort was built in the 18th century.
In an interview with Radio Times, Bateman enthused, “It doesn’t do it justice, but behind [Castillion’s] office where we film a lot of those scenes, the cast go onto this cliff which drops away, and you can just see Jaipur below, and there’s no wall. There’s these huge stone archways out of nothing, and there’s this garden there…we’d just sit and have our lunch there, didn’t want to go back to work, because you’re just looking out over this most incredible view. And there’s this sort of wall, almost like a mini Wall of China, swooping down into the town.”
Samode Palace & Samode Bagh
Samode Bagh and the Samode Palace were exquisite locations used in the series. Scenes in the Emperor’s quarters were filmed at the Samode Palace, originally built as a fort, but converted into a palace in the 19th century. Particular elements of John Beecham’s house were filmed at Samode Bagh.
Bessie Carter, who plays Violet Woodhouse, was enchanted by the filming locations, and admitted the scenery helped her prepare for her role. “I remember staying in Samode Bagh, which is just outside Jaipur, in this beautiful fort, and walking to work through these beautiful gardens and lawns,” she said. “It really helped to get into character. You’re breathing it in, looking at the wildlife, looking at the peacocks roaming around and the monkeys in the tree and going, ‘I am here, I don’t have to do that side of the job because that’s done’.”
The world famous Taj Mahal, located in Agra, makes an appearance later in the series. Building began in 1632 (and took over a decade to truly complete) at the rule of Emperor Shah Jahan, in memory of his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to her fourteenth child.
According to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, the Taj Mahal is “considered to be the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture. Its recognized architectonic beauty has a rhythmic combination of solids and voids, concave and convex and light shadow; such as arches and domes further increases the aesthetic aspect. The color combination of lush green scape reddish pathway and blue sky over it show cases the monument in ever changing tints and moods. The relief work in marble and inlay with precious and semi precious stones make it a monument apart.”
As Bateman told RadioTimes: “The Taj Mahal was one hell of a way to finish.”
Town of Kishangarh
A number of outdoor scenes were filmed in the town of Kishangarh, as well as at the fort in town. “Kishangarh provided a multitude of locations: the Delhi market and the Delhi city gates, the town where the East India Company is encamped, and also the house of another character, Vijay Singh,” Ralph revealed to Condé Nast Traveller. “The Fort is fairly untouched, incredibly well maintained, and not really open to tourists, so therefore we weren’t limited to what animals or cars we could take in, and we could run it at the schedule we wanted to.”
Plus, it provided the perfect backdrop for the arrival of Lesley Nicol’s character, Henrietta Beecham. “That was the third port we’d found, and I’d made designs for, but there was no doubt for me,” Ralph continued. “Kishangarh was the jewel in the crown of the production.”