Belgravia is the rather coldly beautiful residential part of London bounded by Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Buckingham Palace. It is also the title of a 2016 novel by Julian Fellowes who has now turned it into a six-episode series on BBC First (May 24 – June 28). Belgravia is familiar territory for Fellowes in dealing with the world of stately homes and aristocrats even if, being set in 1815-40, it is a century earlier than Downton Abbey which ran for six series from 2010 to 2015.
Fellowes (b.1949) is otherwise known as Baron Fellowes of West Stafford, a life peerage created in 2011. He is married to Lady Emma Kitchener, the great- grandniece of Earl Kitchener, who is the origin of her courtesy title. Fellowes, a late starter as a writer, had spent several years as a character actor. His writing breakthrough came with the 2001 screenplay of the film Gosford Park for director Robert Altman; Fellowes won the film’s only Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
Belgravia deals with the fine lines of social distinction between self-made fortunes and inheritances; issues of legitimacy also play an important part. The story moves swiftly with clear story-telling and well-defined characters. It has the usual roles for attractive young people but an unusual number of strong leading roles for older actresses, among them Harriet Walter as the Countess of Brokenhurst. It is well acted, lush to look at and is perfect escapist entertainment at a time like this.
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