Two of the UK’s most acclaimed actors, Steven Mackintosh (Luther, The Sweeney, Inside Men) and Olivia Williams (Anna Karenina, Hyde Park On Hudson, The Sixth Sense) join forces in a brand new ITV drama series, The Halcyon.
The Halcyon 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 also features Kara Tointon (Mr Selfridge, Sound Of Music Live), Alex Jennings (The Lady In The Van, The Queen), Matt Ryan (Constantine, Arrow), Hermione Corfield (Knights Of The Roundtable: King Arthur, Pride and Prejudice And Zombies) and Mark Benton (Eddie The Eagle, Waterloo Road).
The drama, set in 1940, shows London life through the prism of war and the impact it has on families, politics, relationships and work across every social strata with a soundtrack of music from the era. Multi award-winning singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum.
Who is Joe O’Hara?
“Joe is an American broadcast journalist who has come to Europe to make a name for himself. He’s very ambi:ous, quick-wiaed and not shy at all. What’s interes:ng is we don’t actually know he’s a broadcast journalist un:l near the end of the first episode. We just think he’s another guest in the hotel. He becomes integral to the story and communica:ng the war to America. “When we first meet him he is this journalist who is out for his career and very ambi:ous. But he really does discover who he is and there is a big shi\ in his development as a person. It’s a well-wriaen role in a stylish drama set against the backdrop of the Second World War.”
Did you do any of your own research into this period?
“What’s great about doing anything based in a real historical :me is you get to spend a lot of :me watching documentaries. There is so much material on the Second World War. I watched a bunch of movies involving broadcast journalists and gave myself an excuse to have a liale bit of fun with that research as well. Also researching broadcast journalism at the time.
Why is a hotel such a good backdrop for a drama?
“What’s amazing about it is the paleae you have to play with in a hotel. All the different types of people that come and go in the hotel. The different rela:onships and dynamics. All of that against the backdrop of the war. Where everybody within these complex rela:onships all have something in common, which is this war and the impending doom over their heads. It gives you a great scope for so many different things. There is so much drama that can happen. It really is a great backdrop for a TV drama.
What did you make of The Halcyon set?
“The hotel set is preay awesome. My jaw dropped when I first walked in. There was a very pungent smell of paint drying and it was all but finished. It’s amazing what they’ve done. My favourite part is the bar when the band is playing and they have the dancers doing all the dances of the period. You’re standing there smoking a cigareae and you’re completely transported into that :me. It really does help. You immerse yourself in it. It’s preay cool. Along with the music of that :me.”
Do you have a favourite hotel?
“I do like The Jane Hotel in New York. It’s cool because it’s rus:c and not too glam. If you just get a standard room you get a single bed. It’s like being in a cabin on a ship. A friend of mine recommended it and the first :me I went there I thought, ‘What is this place? It ain’t that great.’ But it’s got such character to it and a great restaurant. It’s the character that is so brilliant.
Is there a period in your life you regard as your halcyon days?
“They were the best of :mes…they were the worst of :mes. I think my halcyon days are yet to come.”
The Halcyon, 9pm Mondays on itv. Catch up on itv hub.