The following is a guide to some of Britain’s best television mini-series. They haven’t been ordered in any particular way because all of these series come recommended. As I come across more note-worthy series I will add them to the top of this post, so check back in the future if you’re looking for more. (Note: this is not a comprehensive list and some series are specifically not included here due to interest or content. I wanted this to be a generally “family-friendly” list.)
*Series I have not yet seen
This drama follows a group of nurses who arrive in Egypt and soon realize that war is not quite the adventure they thought it would be. Maybe not for the squeamish, but it looks stirring and like a heart-string-tugger.
Land Girls follow the lives of four girls doing their part for Britain’s Women’s Lang Army.
The House of Elliot
Death Comes To Pemberley
Three different women, three different families, all working as nannies. Cheesy at times, but very endearing.
Once you start, you won’t stop. These guys are on the case and truly one of a kind.
Pride and Prejudice
The A&E version of Pride and Prejudice will always go down as The Best.
Sense and Sensibility
Several new adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels were release back in 2008-2010 by BBC. While Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet stole the show as Elinor and Marianne in the 1995 Sense and Sensibility, we have another winner. The moral depth of this story compels, the music score enthralls, and the seaside cinematography invites.
One of Jane Austin’s classics, Emma is story that displays the glory of excellent virtues and the consequences of bad habits through one women’s ability to “match-make”…or so she believes. While watching this, I was reminded of how important it is to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Never a bad thing!
Lark Rise to Candleford
Lark Rise to Candleford is a quaint, family-friendly series that follows the small-town lives of the folks of Lark Rise and the “city” folk of Candleford. Sound boring? It’s not. Each episode holds a different plot so you can jump in any time. But if you follow sequentially the characters will grow on you in the most familiar way and before you know it you’re wishing the season wasn’t over.
Call The Midwife
Call The Midwife is a recent release from PBS. Based on a true story, this series is a behind-the-scenes to the demanding work of the on-call midwives of WWII. Endearing, eye-opening, and entertaining.
My parent’s introduced me to this one. Garrow’s Law is a engaging drama that gives you a fly-on-the-wall view of the 19th century courtroom. There is romance and betrayal, justice and mercy. Some of the sub-plots I could leave behind, but overall, I got into it to the point that I couldn’t wait for the next episode.
My favorite of all. Based on Dicken’s classic, this version of Little Dorrit holds the story of one of my personal literary heroines. The quiet yet strong Amy Dorrit is raised in debtor’s prison due to her father’s past. After a chance meeting with Mr. Clenem, her life is never the same. The character development and plot interconnectedness is breathtaking. I’ve seen it maybe three times in full and always discover something I hadn’t seen before. Producer Andrew Davies outdid himself with this one.
Another Andrew Davies series, Dicken’s Bleak House is a second close to Little Dorrit. I was introduced to the selfless character, Esther Summerson, when my Dad and I started watching this together. Her example of purity, selflessness, and lack-of-vanity came to me at just the right time. With another outstanding plot and rich character development, you’ll laugh, cry, puzzle, and marvel.
This PBS adaptation of Jane Erye is near and dear to me.
I had never been interested in the murder mystery drama series. But upon my parent’s recommendation we gave it a try. Taking place during WWII, Inspector Christopher Foyle is one of the most steady fictional chaps you’ll ever meet. He’s witty and gentlemanly and is always in the right place at the right time. Every episode we think, “Surely we’ll figure this one out before the end” and we haven’t once yet. As a English friend of ours said…It’s just so British.
Upstairs Downstairs was one of the pioneers to depict the now distant but once drastic social differences within the early 1900′s household. I would recommend the 1970′s version any day before the 2010 edition.
All Creatures Great and Small
My very first introduction to British television was through the story of country vet, James Herriot. Based on his books, All Creature’s Great and Small will take you through the hills and dales of the English countryside farms and village families who are always in need of the expertise of Herriot and Farnon for their furry friends. When I saw my first live birth of a calf at my husband’s farm, it felt almost like second nature. I bet I could sheer a sheep or stitch up a sow after learning when I did through this entertaining drama.
This sensation has been nothing short of epic. Truly. The drama can be a bit unbelievable at times, but the upstairs-downstairs perspectives of this historical fiction series are compelling. Taking place around the turn of the century, Downton depicts the evolution of gentry and commoner roles in the face of a modernizing world of electricity, world war, equality and much more.
Victoria and Albert
North and South