Channel 4 commissions epic colonial drama ‘Indian Summers’

New C4 drama depicts the final years of British colonial rule in India.

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Channel 4 has commissioned a ten-part original period drama, ‘Indian Summers’, about the decline of the British Empire and the birth of modern India – seen through both British and Indian eyes.

Made by New Pictures, the drama is created and written by Vera scribe Paul Rutman, and will be set against the sweeping grandeur of the Himalayas and tea plantations of Northern India.

It’s the summer of 1932. India dreams of Independence, but the British are clinging to power. In the foothills of the Himalayas stands Simla; a little England where every summer the British power-brokers of this nation are posted to govern during the summer months. At the heart of Simla is the Royal Club – at its gate a burnished sign reads ‘No dogs or Indians’. Here the world of an illegitimate Anglo-Indian boy collides with that of tennis and polo, and gunshots interrupt the clink of ice on a sultry summer’s day.

The Kalka-Simla Express steams through the Himalayan foothills bringing the Britishers to India’s summer capital, while an endless trail of Indian and Tibetan servants prepare Viceregal Lodge. Inside, a handsome young Englishman Ralph Whelan waits accompanied by his restless and put-upon clerk Aafrin. Ambitious and charismatic, Ralph is a rising star in the Indian Civil Service. When an assassination attempt brings the evening’s glittering welcome to an abrupt end, their world comes under threat. For some this is terrifying, but for those in power – it’s an opportunity.

As Indian Summers begins, the stories of promises, secrets, politics, power, sex and love play out as the British Raj begins to falter and a nation opens its eyes to the possibilities of freedom.

Channel 4 Head of Drama Piers Wenger says; “The epic beauty of the Himalayas provides the perfect backdrop for this turbulent story of a world in change. Paul Rutman’s scripts beautifully capture both the plight of those wrestling with an empire on its knees and the restless and pioneering spirit of a nation on the cusp of revolution. We are hugely excited by the creative team that Charlie Pattinson has assembled and cannot wait for Paul, Simon and Charlie to bring this fantastic story to life.”

Charlie Pattinson says; “Indian Summers tells an epic, emotional and political story. Whilst set in the extraordinary dying days of the British Raj in India it is a story that resonates through time and has directly and indirectly shaped some of the most tumultuous events of the last few years. I am delighted to be working with Piers Wenger and Beth Willis on this show and that Channel 4 has the confidence and ambition to tackle a story and a production as epic and challenging as Indian Summers.”

The saga is directed by, Simon Curtis (My Week With Marilyn, Cranford). Executive producers are Charlie Pattinson (Shameless, Skins, Elizabeth 1) and Simon Curtis, with Rebecca Eaton (Birdsong, Downton Abbey, Any Human Heart) for WGBH. Indira Varma is co-executive producer.

Indian Summers will begin filming in 2014.