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Julie Walters, Nikesh Patel and Jemima West got in enough vintage clobber to make an East London hipster blush as they played out the dramatic series two opener of this epic – if slightly predictable – Channel 4 drama.
In a nutshell
Last year there was quite a fuss made of Indian Summers, and you can see why. Plush, opulent, salacious, soap-opera-like, with lashings of exoticism, it was a kind of Asian-flavoured Downton Abbey, in a way. It whisked us back to the early 30s, setting up a vast cast of characters who represent a cross-section of India in a time of change, from a chiselled-jawed English official to an attractive young woman fleeing a ruined marriage, to a matriarch of the society scene (Julie Walters, cast against type to winning effect), as well as a whole bunch of snooty Raj types.
And now we’ve got more of the same with series two. The soapy opening episode packed in the juicy plots from the political (the British viceroy was caught up in a terrorist attack) to the personal (Aafrin met up again with Alice, who’s now married to a white bloke). Ultimately, though, this isn’t world-shaking stuff. It’s an old-fashioned kind of saga – a bit Passage to India, a bit Jewel in the Crown – which is clearly harking back to the meaty miniseries of yesteryear. Which works as a kitsch exercise in telly nostalgia, but will it set hearts racing among a viewing public used to the daring dramas from across the Atlantic?
What's the verdict?
We do costume dramas really well in Blighty, and Indian Summers is certainly quality stuff as far as that goes. But ultimately this is another example of British TV resting on tried and tested formulas, rather than trying to compete with shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Fargo and True Detective. And that’s kind of a pity.