Rest assured, Sir Julian Fellowes’ ‘Belgravia’ is every bit as scandalous as ‘Downton Abbey’

Tamsin Greig as Anne Trenchard and Philip Glenister as James Tranchard in Belgravia. Photograph: ITV

It was inevitable that Sir Julian Fellowes’ newest endeavor would be forever linked and compared to the greatness of Downton Abbey. And, given the fact that his newest effort, Belgravia, starts out with a promotional tag line of ‘secrets, sex, class warfare and corsets’ among the upper echelon of London society, it’s no wonder.

While both series explore the lavish world of the upper classes and the challenges that face the aristocracy’s old guard, Belgravia centers around the story of James Trenchard, played by Philip Glenister (Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, Mad Dogs), who has made his fortune from the Napoleonic Wars and has been catapulted into the most exclusive drawing rooms of the land. He’s now working with the famed architects the Cubitt brothers, who have built London’s creamy-white playground for the rich, Belgravia. Sound a bit like Sanditon sans seaside?

London in the 1840s is the ultimate setting for Fellowes’ story of Belgravia which opens on the eve of Napoleon’s battle against the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo in 1815 at a high-society ball in Brussels given by the Duchess of Richmond and attended by many who will go on to lose their lives in the conflict.

Among the guests are James and Anne Trenchard, who are living on the profits of newfound trading success. Their young daughter Sophia has caught the eye of Edmund Bellasis, the son and heir of one of the richest and most prominent families in England.

Photo: ITV

The bulk of the action in Belgravia takes place 25 years later, when the two families are settled into the newly developed area of Belgravia, London’s grandest post code. The events of the ball, and the secrets, still resonate.

As with a majority of British drama, the ensemble cast is stellar. In addition to Glennister, Belgravia stars Tamsin Greig (Episodes, Black Books), Harriet Walter (The Crown), Tara Fitzgerald (Game of Thrones), James Fleet (Vicar of Dibley, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Alice Eve (She’s Out of My League).

Belgravia premiered Sunday night on ITV with the remainder of the series airing each Sunday at 9p. In America, the series will premiere Sunday, April 12 at 9pET/8pCT on Epix.

In: Drama