I’m not really a fan of the glossier period dramas. I like my period drama with a bit more grit on the lens like the recent Agatha Christie pieces on the BBC or the wonderful Peaky Blinders. I never really got aboard the Downton train or browsed around Mr. Selfridge I can never really get into them. They all seem to be the same show.
So, where does ITV’s new lavish eight-parter The Halcyon sit? With a world war as its backdrop, we follow the lives of the staff and guests of the luxurious hotel owned by Lord Lawrence Hamilton. As is the tradition in dramas of this type Lord Lawrence has a young mistress in the form of Charity Lambert. (Charity Wakefield) Charity is young and outspoken. The hotel staff can’t bare her but they keep his dirty secret because he’s their boss. When Lord Hamilton’s wife turns up earlier than expected the staff rally round to make sure their boss isn’t discovered with his flusey.
The Hotel manager Richard Garland (portrayed by the always brilliant Steven Mackintosh) is the pillar of professionalism. Loyal to within an inch of his life to the Hamilton family but it would appear even he isn’t the man he appears on the surface. There are hints of a dark secret hanging over him that his employers are well aware of. Richard’s daughter Emma (Hermione Corfield) also works at the hotel as a receptionist.
She has grown up in and around its walls and has known the Hamilton family her entire life. As you might expect there are hints at a relationship between her and the air to the Hamilton fortune.
Basically every period drama mainstay is present correct here. The strong cast help to lift the slightly uneven script and even a very hammy Kara Tointon as raunchy singer Betsey Day is just about bearable.The problem for me is that it doesn’t feel different enough to keep me checking in for the next seven weeks. It features everything that I have come to associate with a glitzy period piece whilst offering no really twists on what feels an overly familiar tale. I’m sure fans of the genre will find plenty to draw them in. I’ll perhaps pop my head back in a little later to see how things have progressed.
The Halcyon Continues Monday 9.00pm on ITV.