Rachel Griffiths in a scene from the TV series Indian Summers.
Rachel Griffiths in a scene from the TV series Indian Summers.

Rachel Griffiths joins the cast of Indian Summers

SUMPTUOUS British drama Indian Summers returns to our screens tonight and Australian screen royalty Rachel Griffiths has joined the cast.

The BBC's acclaimed period drama is set in India and follows the annual summer retreat the Indian Civil Service spends in the cooler foothills of the Himalayas.

Season two takes place three years after the events of season one and, unfortunately, is the final season after the BBC decided not to renew the big-budget show (Channel 4's most expensive series ever commissioned) filmed in Malaysia.

So, if you're a fan, enjoy this season while it lasts!

It's 1935 and Simla prepares once again for the annual arrival of the civil servants for the summer season.

Although it's seemingly business as usual for the British administration, a lot has changed in three years.

With Lord Willingdon's retirement imminent, Ralph Whelan (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) hopes to land the top job of Viceroy.

Ralph is now married to Madeleine (Olivia Grant) and the couple have a child, while his sister Alice (Jemima West) is continuing her affair with Aafrin (Nikesh Patel).

Julie Waters, a highlight of season one as club owner and Machiavellian manipulator Cynthia Coffin, also returns.

Griffiths plays the sexually liberated Sirene, the enigmatic Australian mistress of Indian prince Maharaja Maritpur (Art Malik) who has a "surprising" past.

Season two also promises a "reckoning" for Ralph, Alice and Aafrin.

If you haven't seen this show, then think of it like Downton Abbey with an Indian flavour.

It's not exactly an upstairs/downstairs situation and the plot is all over the place this year, but it's close enough.

The lives of the bureaucratic elite stand in stark contrast with Simla's locals and their Indian subordinates.

There's romance, betrayal, intrigue and plenty of power plays bubbling under the surface of the jubilant, and sometimes debauched, summer season.

And like Downton, Indian Summers is set in a pivotal time of upheaval. With India on the brink of coming of age, many start to question the British regime.

Season two of Indian Summers premieres tonight at 8.30pm on BBC First.