Tell me more!
I’ve seen dramas set in the Raj before. It’s all just Brits in linen suits sitting around drinking tea and complaining about the heat, isn’t it? Not in Indian Summers it isn’t. This tale brings to life the gathering storm of rebellion and the desperate Machiavellian politicking of the Brits, not to mention terrorism, treachery and murder. They do also drink a bit of tea, mind…
I don’t know Simla from Sidcup. Where is it? It’s the Indian town in the foothills of the Himalayas where the British rulers would head to every summer to escape the worst of the heat. For several months each year it became the town at the heart of an empire. Much like Sidcup. Today, it’s a popular tourist destination visited by millions. Again, much like Sidcup.
How do you film a drama in such a tourist hotspot? Er, by shooting it in Malaysia.
I bet that Julie Walters plays a nice lady, right? Hmmm, I think you might need to watch season 1 (available on All 4 in TV On Demand) and get up to speed. Unlike Molly Weasley, Mo Mowlam or Mrs Bird in Paddington, her character here is not all sweetness and light. Suffice to say, she’s called Cynthia Coffin, and even that sinister name is probably inappropriately lovely.
I’m in! Marvellous! We spoke to three of the show’s stars to find out all about it.
Art Malik on…
The ongoing fascination with the Raj: “I think it’s British writers trying to write, in a way, an apology. These were people who knew about what the Empire had done. I think that one of our greatest tragedies is that we don’t actually educate people in this country about the British Empire.”
Why some of the cast didn’t have to do too much research: “I was born in 1952, so I grew up with my parents’ generation talking about the Raj. My parents talked about how awful it had been, how limiting life was to most people in India at the time.”
The joys of a ten-part series: “We’ve had the frenetic side of storytelling, and now we’re starting to take things more slowly, introducing viewers to characters gradually, which is more rewarding for the actor and, more importantly, the viewer.”
Henry Lloyd-Hughes on…
Not being typecast: “I played Donovan, the bully in The Inbetweeners. He’s pretty far removed from the suave, scheming civil servant Ralph in Indian Summers! It’s so fun, when you get to blow away the cobwebs and try using completely different muscles as an actor.”
Working with Julie Walters: “There’s not one aspect she doesn’t completely over-deliver on. In my scenes with her, I’m just trying to keep up with her razor-sharp reactions and delivery of really, really pithy, deliciously macabre lines.”
Figuring out you’ve not got the work/life balance quite right: “I will spend more time working with my peers fromIndian Summers than I will with my actual family over a year – by a long way.”
Nikesh Patel on…
Some serious forward planning: “Paul Rutman, the show’s writer, has this grand plan. He has 50-hours of scripts in his head, spanning five series, and taking us right up to partition in 1948. That’s what we’d all like to do. I think it’s a rich enough story that you can tell it with that sweep.”
Conquering lead-role nerves: “You’re working so fast, and the sheer physical ordeal of a TV filming schedule means I didn’t have enough brain space for panicking. It’s filled with either lines or food or rest. So it wasn’t crippling nerves.”
Problems we’d all like to have: “This is going to sound quite bizarre, but by the end of the job I was missing bad weather. It sounds like a very posh problem to moan about, but it’s one thing being away somewhere for a break, and it’s another thing living there for six months and working in that kind of heat.”
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