This has been described as “Spain’s Downton Abbey”, but the storylines are actually far more comparable with Dynasty. It’s gloriously over the top and gloriously entertaining! The second series on Sky Arts has just finished, but hopefully the third series will be shown later this year. It’s set in a luxury hotel in Spain in 1905-1907, and involves a wonderfully complicated series of murders and secrets. Shootings, stabbings, poisonings, adultery, illegitimate half-siblings, cover-ups with babies, fake kidnappings … and plenty more besides. The central characters are the hotel owner’s stunningly beautiful younger daughter and the waiter with whom she’s having an affair. Their relationship is actually very touching. Her husband is the main baddie, and her mother is the calculating bitch character who nearly always bests everyone else.
It’s brilliant, in the way that all those OTT American soaps of the ‘80s were brilliant but also in the way that only a period drama can be brilliant. There are even some genuinely informative historical scenes in it: the hotel owner’s son goes off to fight in Morocco … although he deserts as soon as he gets there and is set to face a firing squad unless he can be saved by the sale of his brother-in-law’s title to someone with friends in high places. That’s Grand Hotel, or, to give it its proper name, Gran Hotel!
Sky Arts do a very good job of giving us access to top-class Continental drama, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that they’ll bring us the third series of this. I’m just sad that it doesn’t look as if there’ll be a fourth.