Belgravia, based on “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes’ 2016 novel of the same name, opens two days before the Battle of Waterloo at an aristocratic ball. Two London families—the Earl (Tom Wilkinson) and Countess of Brockenhurst (Harriet Walter) and the up-and-coming merchants, Anne (Tamsin Greig) and Philip Trenchard (Philip Glenister), are uncomfortable in their brief interactions. There are insurmountable class differences and if that were not enough, the romance between the Brockenhursts’ son and the Trenchards’ daughter fuels the discomfort. Over the course of twenty-five years, a long-buried secret unravels and threatens to ruin both families. The shadows of that ball demand a reckoning.
Belgravia soon becomes a suburban residence for the affluent, developed by the Trenchards’ company, as one of the first housing developments of its kind. Betrayal, class warfare, subterfuge between family members, and secret love affairs proceed at a rapid pace as underhanded tactics and greed dominate the plot.
Laced with intrigue, Belgravia is darker and meaner than “Downton Abbey”. Characters have darker places in their souls, if they have one at all. Some family members surprise with their character development and shift in moral compass.
Tamsin Greig and Harriet Walter as the two mothers are at turns, haunting and devious . The veneer of gentility radiates in public places, disguising cozy manners wrapped around a hard core. Both actresses have a remarkable ability to make the viewer share their innermost private feelings.
A thoroughly engaging soap opera/melodrama, Belgravia is certain to be a crowd-pleaser for fans of historical drama and is an engaging follow-up to “Downton Abbey”.
Note: Available on Amazon Prime (Epix) and on Netflix as a DVD.