By Tania Phillips
ABC, Saturdays, 8.15pm
IN the dying moments of pre-war England, as war not only threatens but starts to break across the world, things are changing for Lord Hamilton and his family and the inner-city London Hotel they own.
The Halcyon is an opulent hotel, staffed by characters from all class levels, many with secrets, many locked into what class and society wants them to be. But with war coming, the world is going to hell quite literally.
Seen by many as a cross between Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridge, The Halcyon tries to be more about shining a different light on the much-told story of wartime London.
It is basically the story of a bustling and glamorous five-star hotel at the centre of London society and a world at war. Set in 1940, the series shows London life through the prism of WWII and the impact it has on families, politics, relationships and work across every social strata – set to a soundtrack of the music of the era.
You have the glamour of Lord and Lady Hamilton – Alex Jennings (The Lady in the van) and Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer, An Education) and their twin sons, Freddie (Jamie Blackley) who has just entered the Royal Air Force and Toby (Edward Bluemel) who is a scholar probably destined to work in intelligence. On the other side of the coin we have manager hotel Richard Garland (Steven Macintosh), Garland’s daughter and receptionist Emma (Hermione Corfield) and the rest of the staff.
Throw in mysterious and handsome American, Joe O’Hara (Welshman Matt Ryan) and it’s all set up
The first episode, airing this Saturday, uses a fairly predictable starting point (pretty much the final scene of the series) and begins again six months earlier.
The end of the episode is also pretty predictable too – but between those two points is a lot of good character development.
ITV, which screened the first series in the UK, don’t look to be commissioning a second series, however the already loyal following and the production company behind the show are shopping it around in an attempt to keep it going.
If you like Foyles War and Downton Abbey, then this might just fill the gap left by the demise of both those shows.