364 days ago, I wrote a blog post chronicling my extensive knowledge of British television and period dramas, which spurned me to create a list. The list went from about few dozen shows to now over 100. And it continues to grow.
I’ve been updating the original list every couple of months, but because of the length and breadth of the explanation before the list, it seemed wise to stop updating the blog piece and move the list to its own page to keep it better contained AND alphabetized it because woah, I had a lot of duplicate entries.
I linked to streaming, if available, on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Acorn.tv. If a show is also on a premium channel like HBO or Starz, linked there as well.
Acorn.TV is a streaming service that allows you to watch as a channel on the Roku or online. If you’re a big fan of Britishisms, it’s absurdly cheap and packed with a mighty list of things not available anywhere and also gets a lot of exclusives, such as they ran Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries before anyone else had it.
Hulu and Hulu+ have a ton of Britishisms and other related foreign shows not found anywhere else.
Lots of Masterpiece shows (stuff that is normally aired on BBC or ITV) is now available on Amazon as well as more non-US stories not found anywhere else.
Your yearly outlay for all four services will be about $150. Absurdly great deal when you consider how much TV/Movies you get on top of the period pieces.
As always, contact if you have any questions, updates, or etc.
STOP! The list and links on this post are now over at put a cravat on it: the list, which will be regularly updated. This article will no longer be updated. Please update your bookmarks accordingly!
A couple of years ago, my friend Matt (apparently astounded at my knowledge of British television) said half seriously/half jokingly that if he ever wanted to know what British TV shows to watch, he’d have to just read my Twitter feed. He then suggested I should put together a list of all recommended shows to point people to so they can get in on the action rather than combing through my copious tweets. On a snowy day this past January, I did exactly that. I called it telly watching: a guide to uk tv & radio and it took me forever to put together and it is no where near complete. Or even started for that matter – it’s not even a dust mote of a dent in my ever growing list.
Last night on Twitter, a conversation broke out about several period, mainly British, shows which ended up as a recommendations engine powered by librarians. The problem with this, as you might have guessed, is how much sheer knowledge of British / period film / TV series existed between us all. So I thought I would draw up a list as methadone until the next season of Downton / Miss Fisher / Sherlock start.
The list is in no particular order, mainly British period pieces up to the early ’60s with primarily strong female leads. I KNOW I am missing a lot, so if you feel there is an absolute MUST HAVE, let me know via email or comments and I’ll update the list! Due to sheer volume, I left out movies and every incarnation of Dickens/Austen/Bronte and others. Everything below is either a mini series or a regular series. One day there may be a movie version of the list — maybe.
Show name links take you to information about the show. I checked all three main US streaming sites — but be warned! Some of the shows are not available for free as part of Amazon Prime OR on regular Hulu. If you end up paying for season pass or buying Hulu Plus — don’t say I did not warn you. Acorn.TV is a streaming service that allows you to watch as a channel on the Roku or online. If you’re a big fan of Britishisms, it’s absurdly cheap ($30/year!) and packed with a mighty list of things not available anywhere. Some shows are exclusive to some specific stations, like Parade’s End on HBO, and since those shows are available streaming to subscribers, I added those too.
Shows that are not streaming in the US (such as Breathless and Up The Women), I kept because they fall into the genre and are available off the back of the truck. Please do not ask me to get shows for you or where to find them. I’m only letting you know they are available for you to find.
He Knew He Was Right Netflix | Amazon | Hulu | Acorn.TV
The Way We Live Now Netflix | Amazon | Hulu | Acorn.TV
The Six Wives of Henry VIII Netflix | Amazon | Hulu | Acorn.TV
Maybe now I should go finish the telly watching: a guide to uk tv & radio guide?
P.S. I get a lot of questions on where I find out about all of my Britishisms – other than the usual internets chatter, I follow the following blogs: Digital Spy, Telly Visions, Tellyspotting, TVWise, Radio Times, and BBC History Extra.
P.P.S Updated at 12:07 PM and added nearly a dozen more shows.
P.P.P.S. Updated 1/4/2014 with another dozen shows.
P.P.P.P.S Updated 5/30/2014 with 30 more shows.
This is the day I give myself complete freedom to do whatever I want. Sleep in late, read the paper in full, don’t get out of my jimjams, read all day in bed, mainline TV shows, bake all the things, take a two hour bath, or write the great Canadian-American novel; doesn’t matter. Sunday is the day that I do all, some, or none of those things. Sunday is the day for me.
This morning I woke with a purpose and the dreams of my sleep still vivid (but now fuzzy as the day has progressed). By noon, the bed linens had been the changed, the dog had been walked, several loads of laundry were completed, and TheHusband was in the process of making his chili for our consumption later. I had declared this to be a day of “reading::writing,” which apparently meant I was going to mainline Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries all day long. This turned out to be a very fine idea, indeed.
I first came across Miss Fisher on Acorn TV. If you are a fan of British or British-esque television series, serials, and movies, hie thee to their website and sign up for their streaming services, which are ungodly cheap of $30 a year. Yes, that’s right — $30 for an entire year of Britishisms. Acorn TV is available as a channel on Roku and can also be watched on your computer/tablet. Acorn is the company that produces many (if not most) of the Britishisms DVDs that are made available via PBS, so the company is legit. While their streaming catalog is small, it is often mighty, and routinely updated.
[According to Acorn TV, they are going to start streaming seasons two of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries in January. Since Netflix picked up the show almost a year after Acorn TV had it for season one, this might be a good time to sign up!]
So let us hurry back to Miss Fisher for we must not keep her waiting.
The premise is this: Honorable Phryne Fisher, she who is named after an ancient Greek courtesan, returns to 1920s Melbourne after years away. Rich, beautiful, young, and clever, Miss Fisher has seen a thing or two of the world and decides that her next calling in life is to be a lady detective. The first episode, Cocaine Blues, deals with a murder, cocaine ring, and an illegal abortionist. Series one follows the trail of the books and series two is apparently based on original to the show work.
Most who fall in love with the series do so for varied number of reasons: the costuming (bloody hell, her frocks!), the time period, the location, Miss Fisher’s general bad assery, and the murder mysteries are not spoon fed to the viewers. For me, there are a couple of things about this series that stand out, namely the subjects and topics that even by 21st century tastes could be construed as being provocative: Education, abortion, women’s rights, worker’s rights, family planning, slavery, adoption, religion, and the list goes on. These are very big topics to tackle, and the show has done them with grace and tact. It is not sensationalized or feels phony as there is a level of understatement that cannot be missed about the problems and issues that wrapped up 1920s Melbourne.
Some of the critiques of Miss Fisher, the books and the television show, stem from the unlikelihood of her “modern sensibilities and mannerisms” would be real in the 1920s, which means someone has not been paying attention to history. Much of the women’s rights movement began in that era and Miss Fisher’s seemingly flippant devil may care attitude and sexuality are right in line with the period.
My sins are too many and varied to mention, and frankly I intend to continue sinning so I won’t waste your time.Miss Phryne Fisher, S1 Ep9 Queen of the Flowers
And that is perhaps why I fell so deep and hard for this show – Miss Fisher is a strong role model breaking with gendered traditions to live the life she feels best suits her. She does not have misguided notions of marriage, family, or love. She takes lovers with the same ease I use picking out what pair of Chucks I’m going to wear and makes it clear to them she’s not the type of women to be committed. She makes a fabulous aunt and ward, but would never dream of being a mother. She bucks against the traditions of ladies etiquette, deportment, and social graces by finding them damning and of ill use in her modern world but is still skilled enough to use them when needed. Instead, she becomes a Renaissance woman in the purest sense of the word: She speaks several languages, learns how to protect herself with martial arts, can tango as well as juggle balls. She’s lived a paupers life and a rich life, she’s traveled extensively, she was an artists model and worked in the circus. She can pick locks and fly an airplane. She is kind, generous, and she chooses and creates her urban family of misfits who are fiercely loyal to her.
Miss Phryne Fisher sets to prove a woman can and should have it all but she does it with an elegance and grace many of us in this modern world, I myself am highly guilty of this, lack. There is a ring of criticism that Miss Fisher falls into the camp of “she’s-too-perfect-itis” and while I can see the value of that criticism, I think the writers have done well with giving Miss Fisher backstories to illustrate she is not so perfect after all.
Because Miss Fisher becoming the new hotness, I’ve collected some worthy links to the TV series, books, and other interests to get you started: