We all need some escapism

If you’re looking for escapism and a trip back in time that’s awash with romance, lavish costumes, inspiring true stories and swashbuckling adventures – enjoy this list of the best period dramas to watch now from classics like The Crown and Poldark to newer offerings like Self Made.

Pride & Prejudice

There’s only one Mr Darcy in our eyes – and that’s Oscar winner Colin Firth. The BBC’s sumptuous six-part adaptation from Jane Austen’s classic novel is steeped in romance, stately homes, Austen’s famous witticisms, and Firth’s Darcy taking an impromptu dip in his private lake. Jennifer Ehle, Julia Sawalha and Alison Steadman make up an all star cast in the 1995 series which remains a must-watch.

The English Game

Julian Fellowes’ latest period drama – and first for Netflix – documents the invention of football and its stratospheric rise to become the world’s game by crossing class divides. Starring Edward Holcroft, Niamh Walsh, James Harkness and Craig Parkinson.

War and Peace

BBC’s take on Leo Tolstoy’s timeless novel follows three young people experiencingc life, love and loss against the epic backdrop of Russia’s wars with Napoleon. The spectacular adaptation features an all star cast including Paul Dano, James Norton, Lily James and Jessie Buckley.

Parade’s End

Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall lead this understated and Emmy award-winning BBC mini-series. Set during World War 1, Parade’s End chronicles the tangled relationship between a conservative English aristocrat, his unfaithful socialite wife, and a young suffragette.

The Crown

Netflix’s spectacular award-winning drama spans the Queen’s reign from the 1950s – as she ascended the throne at 25 – through to the 1990s, to the backdrop of personal intrigues, romances, political rivalries and momentous historical events that shaped the second half of the twentieth century.

Self Made

Netflix original series Self Made champions the inspirational true story of Madam CJ Walker, an American woman of colour who rises from poverty to build a beauty empire and become the first female self-made millionaire. Oscar winner Octavia Spencer stars as the formidable CJ in the life-affirming drama set in the late 1800s.

Small Island

Adapted from Andrea Levy’s prize-winning novel of the same title, the Emmy Award-winning mini series Small Island follows Naomie Harris as a young ambitious Jamaican woman reunited with her husband in a post-World War II London. She endures both racism and homesickness as she adapts to her new life. Ruth Wilson, Benedict Cumberbatch and David Oyelowo make up the impressive all star cast.


Inspired by Charles Dickens’ critically acclaimed novels, Dickensian is set within the fictional realms of his work, bringing together some of his most iconic characters – from Scrooge to Fanny Biggetywitch – as their lives intertwine in 19th-century London. Starring Sophie Rundle, Adrian Rawlins, Tuppence Middleton and Stephen Rhea.

Gentleman Jack

Suranne Jones delights as formidable pioneer Anne Lister in Sally Wainwright’s contemporary period drama. Set in the 1830s, the series centres on the extraordinary life of business woman Lister as she refuses to confirm to gender norms and battles against misogyny to successfully run her manor house in Yorkshire. Sophie Rundle co-stars as love interest Ann Walker.

Cable Girls

Set in 1920s Madrid, the acclaimed Spanish drama follows four women working at the country’s first National Telephone Company as they battle for equality and navigate friendship, romance and the modern workplace.


No period drama list would be complete without Aidan Turner’s brooding Ross Poldark – and his ruffled, windswept hair – in the hit BBC series adapted from the novels by Winston Graham. The drama follows Poldark as he rebuilds his fortunes and his late father’s estate amidst his steamy love triangle with Eleanor Tomlinson’s Demelza and Heida Reed’s Elizabeth.

Call the Midwife

Put the kettle on and sit back to enjoy Heidi Thomas’ much-loved BBC drama, celebrating the lives of the lovable and hard0working nurses of Nonnatus House. Adapted from the best-selling memoirs of Jennifer Worth, this series offers a moving, funny, colourful look at midwifery and family in 1950s East End London.

Downton Abbey

Julian Fellowes’ beloved period drama Downton Abbey follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their team of loyal servants in the early 20th century.

Alias Grace

Netflix’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s riveting Alias Grace chronicles the tragic life of Grace Marks – a real-life Irish immigrant and domestic servant in Canada who, in 1843, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the brutal murders of her employer and his housekeeper. Psychiatrist Dr Simon Jordan intervenes to see whether Grace should be pardoned due to insanity. Starring Sarah Gadon and Edward Holcroft.

(Shared Article: Good Housekeeping)