‘Belgravia’ – A party before war
Fans of costume dramas will want to check out a new British/U.S. co-production premiering this week on EPIX.
“Belgravia,” a six-part limited series from “Downton Abbey” stewards Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame that premieres Sunday, April 12, tells of a series of events set in motion by a London ball thrown by a British aristocrat in June 1815 on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo. James and Anne Trenchard (Philip Glenister, “Outcast,” and Tamsin Greig, “Episodes”) attend at the invitation of the Duchess of Richmond (Diana Hardcastle, “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”) and the repercussions of that fateful evening will be felt for decades as the secrets of London’s upper echelon come out into the light of day.
Among those caught in the ensuing storm are the Trenchards’ son and daughter-in-law Oliver and Susan (Richard Goulding “The Windsors,” and Alice Eve, “She’s Out of My League”), Lady Maria Grey (Ella Purnell, “Sweetbitter”), the Earl and Countess of Brockenhurst (Tom Wilkinson, “Michael Clayton,” and Harriet Walker, “Sense and Sensibility”) and Lady Templemore (Tara Fitzgerald, “Game of Thrones”).
The real Duchess of Richmond’s ball took place in Brussels the night of June 15, 1815, and was famous for having nearly every high-ranking officer of Wellington’s army in attendance, days before they would engage and eventually vanquish the forces of Napoleon I of France at Waterloo.
“Many of them (were) still in their dress uniforms that they wore for the ball,” Fellowes told a recent gathering of journalists in Pasadena, Calif., “and of course many of them were killed in them. So it was a very kind of glamorous, tragic image, really.”
“In a way it’s one of those iconic events,” Neame adds, “a little bit like (how) we started ‘Downton Abbey’ with the sinking of the Titanic. And they’re both very romanticized, both incredibly tragic, romantic events in our imagination. So, we begin with a very recognizable moment in history. There are some real characters from history in the show, which is otherwise completely fictional, but that helps to place it in its place in time.”
“I think there’s a lot of the same comedy of manners and social observation,” he continues. “There’s a mystery at the heart of it. It’s a story about this couple and how they deal with the big tragedy in their lives and the repercussions of all of that. So, there’s lots that the fans of our other work would love, but it’s a very original piece as well.”