Top Ten Favorite Period Piece TV Shows

This week on Top Ten Tuesdays, the prompt was to pick a TV themed topic. Since period-pieces/historical dramas are my fave, here are my top recommendations for TV Shows/Mini-Series! These are not in any specific order, although the first one is my current obsession!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Poldark 

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BBC One; Season 2 airs September 4, 2016. Watch season 1 on Amazon Prime.

See my full review of Poldark here!

To begin with, Poldark has some of the best acting you’ll see on TV. Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark and Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza are just absolutely breathtaking. More often than not I’m astounded by their talent. Not to mention how wonderful the writing and character development on this show is. Plus the music is gorgeous! Poldark follows the story of Ross Poldark, an English Captain who returns from war to a crumbling inheritance and a family and town turned against him. Just…so, so good.

2. Lark Rise to Candleford

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Watch Seasons 1-4 on Amazon Prime.

Much lighter than Poldark, Lark Rise to Candleford is a rather adorable and meaningful show that follows a tiny village and it’s neighboring town and the folks who live in both. There’s lots of nice acting here as well, along with some lovely story lines that are actually quite deep and moving. Lots of girl power too, though not in a strident way.

3. North and South

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Watch the miniseries on Netflix.

This is probably my all-time favorite miniseries period drama. Richard Armitage, for starters is not only extremely nice to look at and listen to, but his acting is incredible. It’s a tough story to watch, but it has a gloriously satisfying ending. The story follows a young woman from Southern England who moves to the North and discovers life for factory owners and workers is far more complicated and miserable than their southern counterparts.

4. Emma (2009)

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Watch the miniseries on Amazon Prime.

This is probably my favorite Jane Austen adaptation (right after the Kiera Knightly/Matthew McFadyen Pride and Prejudice, I suppose). I love that this one spends so much time developing Emma and Knightly’s relationship. It’s an extremely sweet and well done version, and definitely worth watching for Austen fans.

5. The Paradise

Image result for the paradise bbc

Watch Seasons 1-2 on Netflix.

See my full review of The Paradise.

The Paradise follows the rise of the first department store in England (not sure where Selfridge’s fits in here, this might be a fictional version of Selfridge’s). I love the hero and heroine (shown above), and their romance is sweet and hard won. Lots of likable characters, nasty villains, and a never ending parade of gorgeous costumes make this show a must for any lover of period drama.

6. Gran Hotel

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Watch Seasons 1-3 on Netflix (Spanish with English Subtitles).

I think I watched all three seasons of this show in about a week. It’s completely addicting. I (and everyone else) like to call it Spain’s Downton Abbey (although it is much more satisfying than Downton). Gran Hotel follows the ambitious and devious family who owns the Gran Hotel and the sometimes equally ambitious and devious people who work there. Plenty of romance, intrigue, drama, humor…you name it. The two young lovers (pictured at the top of the image above) are intensely likable, and you root for them all the way. Likewise, some of my least favorite characters in all of TV are also in Gran Hotel. I adore this show.

7. Murdoch Mysteries

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Watch Seasons 1-7 on Netflix; still currently airing.

See my full review of Murdoch Mysteries.

Murdoch Mysteries is an intensely fun and entertaining show about a Canadian police department in the late 1890’s/early 1900’s. The main character is charming and noble and wholesome and truly likable, and the cast of secondary characters ranges from hilarious comedic relief to causes of fascinating strife for Murdoch’s convictions. Truly a lot of fun.

8. Robin Hood (BBC 2006)

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Watch Season 1-2 on Netflix; skip season 3, trust me on this one.

So this version of Robin Hood definitely has a modern/hipster sort of air to it. Sometimes the production quality isn’t so great (some of the costumes are SUPER questionable) but it’s a fun and entertaining show nonetheless. Something really stupid happens at the end of season 2, and season three is unbearable. But season 1 and most of season 2 are quite enjoyable.

9. The Musketeers (BBC 

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This version of The Musketeers is fun and romantic, with lots of sword fighting, fun costumes, interesting politics, and dashing heroes. Season 2 gave us a frighteningly dark and bizarre villain, and season three had me weirdly liking the villain (Season three was WEIRD y’all). Even though he was definitely not supposed to be liked (I love the actor, so that probably had a lot to do with it). Anyway, this one is strangely difficult to find (season three has been a bizarre saga of ‘are they even going to air this thing?’). But I truly enjoy watching the four heroes try to keep peace and dole out necessary justice in 17th century France.

10. Crimson Field

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Watch all six episodes on Amazon Prime.

I cannot even being to describe how upset I am that this show only got six episodes. They are glorious and miserable and addicting. This is actually a recent watch for me, really only a few months ago, and I am thinking about watching it all over again. Crimson Field follows civilian nurses on their first assignment to a Field Hospital in France during World War I. You can imagine the miserable part, I’m sure. Lots of awesome character development and a pinch of romance made those six episodes soar.

You’re probably like, UM WHERE IS DOWNTON ABBEY? To be honest, I was obsessed with Downton for the first 2-3 seasons. I think they’re wonderful. But then they betrayed us and ripped all of our organs out and smashed them into little pieces and then expected us to thank them. SHAME ON YOU DOWNTON.

Honorable Mentions: Outlander, The Americans, The White Queen, Doctor Thorne, When Calls the Heart

What are your favorite Period Dramas?

Top Ten Tuesday


  1. sjhigbee says:

    Did you manage to catch Cranford? If you like excellent acting and period dramas, it’s an adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s book, who also wrote North and South. It has the cream of British actors in it – the acting superb and is a fine study of genteel poverty among ladies of a certain age. Though it is far from grim – it’s quite funny, in fact. And a real gem…

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