Missing Netflix's 'The Crown'? Never fear, Netflix UK is bursting at the corsetted seams with brilliant period dramas. Whether you fancy a spot of topless scything with 'Poldark', some Austen-style matchmaking or some frightfully silly royal capers, the streaming service has you covered. Here's our pick of the 10 best period dramas on Netflix UK.
Period dramas on Netflix UK
Writer Peter Straughan
Director Peter Kosminsky
Cast Mark Rylance, Claire Foy, Damian LewisHilary Mantel’s doorstop of a novel was given the period drama treatment by the BBC last year. It attracted some seriously A-list talent, with Mark Rylance gracing the nation’s screens as Thomas Cromwell. ‘The Crown’ actress Claire Foy also practised her regal poise as Anne Boleyn in this lush and handsomely acted series.
Creator Heidi Thomas
Cast Helen George, Charlotte Ritchie, Jenny AgutterNuns and midwives in the poverty-stricken East End of London. Who guessed this would become a smash hit? Not us. But the charming period drama pulls in millions of viewers each winter – and for good reason. Don’t be tricked by the twee tea parties and pretty period dresses. ‘Call the Midwife’ isn’t afraid to tackle tough and uncomfortable subjects.
Director Julian Jarrold
Cast Sarah Gadon, Bel Powley Emily WatsonIf you’re suffering from ‘The Crown’ withdrawal, try this fluffy British comedy inspired – in the loosest possible way – by a real-life royal adventure. On VE Day in 1945, Princesses Elizabeth, 19, and Margaret, 14, were famously allowed out of the palace to celebrate the end of the war. What did they get up to? Gambling in Soho and partying with the riff raff, if you believe ‘A Royal Night Out’.
Writer Tom Stoppard
Director Susanna White
Cast Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca HallBenedict Cumberbatch lends his chiselled cheekbones to this adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s novel series. He’s Christopher Tietjens, an infuriating English aristocrat who refuses to let go of his Edwardian values – until World War I and the arrival of a young suffragette leave him questioning everything he believes in.
Director Amma Asante
Cast Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew GoodeWe Brits do love a corset drama. But ‘Belle’ is almost certainly the first ever to feature a mixed-race heroine. Amma Asante’s 2013 film tells the incredible real-life story of Dido Belle, a mixed-race aristocrat in 1700s London, who was the illegitimate daughter of a naval officer and an African woman (who historians believe was a slave). The film depicts Belle’s link to a shocking case that brought the end of Britain’s involvement in slavery a step closer.
Creator Michael Hirst
Cast Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Sam Neill, Natalie DormerThis is less actual history and more bodice-ripping steamy sex scenes. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays an increasingly bloated Henry VIII over four glossy seasons. You’ll recognise ‘Game of Thrones’ actress Natalie Dormer as the ill-fated Anne Boleyn – and it’s no spoiler to say she doesn’t last until the final episode.
Director John Crowley
Cast Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson
Saoirse Ronan gives a gorgeous performance in this adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s much-loved novel set in the 1950s. She plays Eilis, a young Irish woman who emigrates to New York in the early 1950s. Forced to leave her family and hometown, she suffers from homesickness before falling for a handsome Italian-American. When an unexpected death brings her back to Ireland, Eilis must choose between two worlds and two men.
Creator Debbie Horsfield
Cast Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, Heida ReedYou’d be forgiven for thinking Poldark is mainly scenes of Aidan Turner topless scything, such was the hype around it. But he has, in fact, only embarked on semi-naked farming once. The rest of the time this drama, set by the rugged Cornish coast during the late eighteenth century, sees passionate Poldark brooding on cliff tops and lusting after his first love Elizabeth.
Writer Andrew Davies
Director Simon Langton
Cast Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth
Writer Andrew Davies
Cast Janet McTeer, Charity Wakefield, Hattie MorahanNo, not the Oscar-winning one with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson. This is the three-part ITV mini-series that caused a bit of a stir in 2008 by including racy sex scenes in the first episode. The Jane Austen Society was not impressed, calling it ‘too raunchy’.
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