TV preview: The Halcyon

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We’ve had Mr Selfridge, we’ve had Downton, now comes The Halcyon.

The big budget drama tells the story of a bustling and glamorous five-star hotel at the centre of London society and a world at war.

The eight-part drama series, which stars Steven Mackintosh and Olivia Williams, is set during the 1940s. At the time bombs were raining down over London during the blackout, but the occupants of five star hotels were inside quaffing champagne and eating foie gras, all to the beat of a big band sound, which comes courtesy of multi award-winning singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum.

“As an actor, your initial instinct is all about the page-turnability of a script,” says Mackintosh, who plays hotel manager Richard Garland. “How quickly it manages to keep or lose your interest.

“The Halcyon gripped me straight away. Setting the story within this high class hotel and also against the backdrop of the Second World War gives you such a huge scope from drama and for what’s to come. It’s such an evocative period and the beginning of the story is the very beginning of war. We have this fantastic contrast between the turmoil and potential jeopardy of everything that’s about to come with this opulent environment.

“Having done a bit of reading about the high class hotels of London during that period, that really was the remit – ‘Come what may, we keep our guests in the manner to which they are accustomed’.”

The Halcyon, ITV, Monday, January 2, 9pm