18 Timeless TV Period Dramas You Need to See

The period drama genre allows audiences to explore the lives and struggles of communities of the past, often finding similarities between our time and theirs. Nothing lets the viewer connect to the story and characters more than a regular TV series, and it’s partly why TV period dramas are so popular. 

Here are 18 of the best period dramas made for TV.

 

Downton Abbey

Photo Credit: ITV.

Downton Abbey is a famously loved period drama set in Britain in the early twentieth century. It follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family. This is a brilliant show, and it scores 8.7 stars on IMDB.

 

Bridgerton

Photo Credit: Netflix.

This drama, which has a 7.4 rating on IMDB, beautifully depicts the life of the powerful Bridgerton family in London. The storyline follows the family’s eldest daughter and her hopes to “marry for love” on the competitive Regency London marriage market. 

 

The Tudors

Photo Credit: BBC Two.

This amazing period drama showcases the real-life historical events of Henry VIII and his six wives. This TV show has everything, including love, romance, betrayal, murder, and the opulence of the Royal Tudor Court. Rated 8.1 stars on IMDB, it’s a must-see. 

 

Lark Rise to Candleford

Photo Credit: BBC One.

Set in the 19th Century in a small village outside Oxfordshire in the UK, Lark Rise to Candleford is a brilliant period drama about a local girl who moves to a market town to begin an apprenticeship as a postmistress. With an IMDB rating of 8.2 stars, this show is guaranteed to be a good watch. 

 

Poldark 

Photo Credit: BBC One.

Ross Poldark returns from the American Revolutionary War to find his life in ruins, his lover engaged to another man, his homestead demolished, and his father dead. The show follows Poldark as he attempts to rebuild his life and the challenges that it brings. 

 

The Crown

Photo Credit: Netflix.

A dramatization of the life of the British Royal family, this show documents the real-life events surrounding Queen Elizabeth, her husband, Prince Philip, and their children, including Prince Charles and his wife, Lady Diana. Rated 8.6 stars on IMDB, this is a great TV show. 

 

Pride & Prejudice

Photo Credit: A&E Networks.

One of the best-known period dramas to ever exist, this TV show adaption of Pride & Prejudice is a wonderful example of great filmmaking. This series has brilliant acting, navigating the original story in a compelling, authentic way. 

 

Sense and Sensibility

Photo Credit: PBS.

Another classic period drama that has been replicated in several films, this TV series adaptation is worth watching. It is so well crafted that critics have praised this drama for its delicate, captivating depiction of Sense & Sensibility. 

 

Cranford

Photo Credit: BBC One.

Starring Dame Judy Dench, we know we are in good company with this period drama. Set in the 1840s in a fictional village in Cheshire, England, this drama focuses on the lives of middle-class widowed women as they struggle to adapt to changing times. 

 

Upstairs, Downstairs

Photo Credit: ITV.

Set in the affluent Belgravia area of London between 1903 and 1930, this drama depicts the lives of a wealthy, aristocratic family and their servants who live downstairs. It is a brilliant TV show that is still rated 8.4 stars on IMDB. 

 

Little Dorrit

Photo Credit: BBC One.

Based on the book of the same name by Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit revolves around the youngest daughter of a family who lives in a debtor’s prison in the 1820s in London. This show dramatizes the real-life hardships faced by the Dorrit family. 

 

Jane Eyre

Photo Credit: BBC One.

This TV adaption of Charlotte Brontë’s 1927 book of the same name, this TV series does an excellent job of representing the original story with poise, class, and style. We recommend this period drama, as it is a highly entertaining watch.

 

Mansfield Park

Photo Credit: BBC2.

Set in 1808, we follow the story of a young, impoverished Fanny Price, who is sent to live with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park. Unfortunately, they mistreat her—all except for one. Fanny begins to fall in love with the one cousin who is kind to her. 

 

Versailles

Photo Credit: BBC Two.

In 1667, aged 28, we follow the escapades of King Louis XIV, who decides to build the greatest palace in the world. However, many challenges stand in his way. A brilliant recreation of historical events, this show has great acting, a great script, and beautiful costumes. 

 

Outlander

Photo Credit: Starz.

This fantasy period drama begins in 1745; however, it then jumps to 1743 as we follow a nurse who is mysteriously transported back in time, where she meets and falls in love with the handsome Highlander James Fraser. This show has a big fan base and an excellent IMDB rating of 8.4 stars; it’s not to be missed. 

 

Victoria

Photo Credit: ITV.

This period drama follows the life of Queen Victoria from when she ascended to the throne aged only 18. It showcases her struggle to balance ruling a Kingdom and being a wife and mother at the same time. This is a good watch, with a score of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes

 

Call the Midwife

Photo Credit: PBS.

Set in the 1950s in the East End of London, this period drama follows a group of midwives trying to balance their personal and professional lives while delivering hundreds of babies weekly. Starring Vanessa Redgrave, Jenny Agutter, and Laura Main, this brilliant show, rated 8.6 stars on IMDB, is a must-see.

 

And Then There Were None

Photo Credit: BBC One.

Based on Agatha Christie’s novel of the same name, this show depicts the lives of ten strangers. As Europe is on the precipice of war, they all end up on a mysterious island called Soldier Island, off the coast of Devon in England. Cue an entertaining story of murder, mystery, and intrigue. 

 

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Catherine Keating

Writer & Blogger

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