Sunday, September 25, 2011

British Television Series

A slight book-blogging digression, as this is not a television blog, but it's vaguely book-related. So, last week I completed watching the original Upstairs, Downstairs series.  It was so wonderful, I'm currently in mourning -- what could I possibly watch next which is just as wonderful before Downton Abbey starts in January?  Frankly, I'm not that excited about network television at the moment, with the possible exception of Modern Family and The Amazing Race).

I'm lucky enough to work in a public library with an extensive DVD collection. Bloggers, I need some suggestions for my next series!  Here are the possibilities:

The most recent version of Robin Hood:

This brilliant Masterpiece Theater follow-up to Upstairs, Downstairs (I actually watched it years ago, but it's been so long I've forgotten most of it):

Another classic BBC series set in the 1930s:

A classic series about a British schoolmaster:

A thrilling series set in WWII:

Or a racy series about King Henry XIIV (technically not British, as it was on Showtime, but it's all about the Brits):

The trouble is I want to watch ALL of them!!  Bloggers, have you seen any of these?  Or do you have any other suggestions?  I've seen all of the Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell adaptations.  I love all kinds of historical and period dramas.  Some of my other favorites are Downton Abbey, Foyle's War, Bleak House, Wives and Daughters, The House of Elliott, and of course anything by Jane Austen.


  1. Of those, I've only watched The Tudors. And it was very, very secksie.

  2. I am planning to watch Robin Hood because I have seen like 2 episodes only.

    The Tudors is amazing but makes me hate King Henry plus I don't approve nudity but still amazing series.

  3. I'm old enough to remember watching the Duchess of Duke Street when it was first on! - so it was eons ago but I remember that it was good. And I looked up Love for Lydia because I was trying to remember if I had seen it (probably did), and I don't remember it, but it has a young Jeremy Irons in it, so yes! :)

  4. If you've never seen the original "Forsyte Saga," you probably should. It was the series that began the whole Masterpiece Theatre phenomenon in the late '60s, and it's FABULOUS. The acting is absolutely brilliant. Just keep in mind that the budget was considerably lower in those days! (The original FS is so-o-o-o-o much better than the remake that came out several years ago, which I hated.)

  5. I haven' watched any of those, but as I'm also on the lookout for a new series to get hooked on I look forward to seeing what people suggest!

  6. I was planning to start Upstairs, Downstairs so am glad to hear you liked it... don't know how I can possibly wait until January for Downton Abbey!

  7. The Duchess of Duke Street is an excellent series and I strongly recommend it.

    I also enjoyed The Tudors but it had way too much sex in it. Also, IMO it became far less interesting after Anne Boleyn died, but I guess they can't help history!

  8. Tom -- I heard it was pretty racy. But is it worth watching?

    Nevey Berry -- I've heard Robin Hood is really good. I've been interested in the Tudors since I read The Other Boleyn Girl.

    Audrey -- My mom used to let me stay up late on Sunday nights just so we could watch it together. We didn't have a VCR so that was my weekly treat.

    Leticia -- I read The Forsyte Saga a few years ago and really liked it. I started the most recent adaptation and was underwhelmed, I don't think I even watched one entire episode. I'm glad the earlier version was better.

    Nymeth -- I'll post an update with suggestions.

    JoAnn -- the original UpDown is much better than the recent sequel.

    Moggy -- Well, I know that he had six wives, so there's going to be some drama. Showtime does tend to have a lot of sex. I also watched Game of Thrones on HBO, which definitely had more sex than the books. Maybe they want to attract more viewers.

  9. The only ones of those I really watched were Robin Hood (Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisbourne!) and Danger UXB. I've seen the odd episode of a few of the others, but I've never really got into them.

    Dare I mention that Downton Abbey started last night here?

  10. I highly recommend North & South (based on Elizabeth Gaskell's book), Little Dorit, The Forsyte Saga, and the new film of Jane Eyre (lovely!).
    Older ones but also worth watching - Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown.

  11. What you ABSOLUTELY must get hold of is the original Brideshead Revisited - Jeremy Irons - absolkutely wonderful!

  12. Tracy -- I heard about Downton Abbey! I'm envious but it starts here in January, which is something to look forward to after the holidays. I'm going to resist looking for it online. And I heard about Richard Armitage in Robin Hood, which is one of the great attractions -- isn't he a bad guy?

    Mrs. B. -- I did watch North and South this summer and LOVED it, though I thought the woman who played Margaret was kind of annoying. I completely forgot about Brideshead, which I've hardly seen, so that must go on the list.

    Verity -- I forgot about Brideshead, I only vaguely remember seeing bits of it long ago. And it stars Anthony Andrews as well! Loved him in Upstairs, Downstairs.

  13. The Tudors was outstanding -- except I kept wishing they'd picked someone tall and red-headed to play Henry (the historian in me, sorry!). The Duchess of Duke Street also sounds fantastic!

  14. I was sad to finish watching Up/Down, too. I even watched all the extras at the end of the series. I'm not yet decided what to pick next--maybe The Duchess of Duke Street. There is a series called Berkeley Square that you might like--unfortunately they only filmed one season of it, but I liked it so much I bought it! It's set in turn of the century England and also something of an upstairs/downstairs story. I tried Robin Hood, but even with the yummy Richard Armitage I couldn't manage more than on disc-worth of episodes. They all seemed too much the same? Good luck choosing something good. I'm also looking forward to Downton Abbey!

  15. I haven't watched any of those yet but I read To Serve Them All My Days and it was really good so that's in my queue. I watched a little bit of The Tudors but just thought it was too over the top.

  16. What about Jeeves and Wooster? I love that show!

    Of the ones you list, I've seen The Tudors, and liked it pretty well, but I haven't seen the final season yet.

  17. Oh my gosh, to echo others' comments, the original Brideshead Revisited with Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews is amazing! If you haven't seen it, you should put it at the top of your list.

  18. I vote wholeheartedly for Duchess of Duke Street. Louisa Trotter is a woman to be reckoned with. I have the DVDs and watch it once a year at least, all the way through! I actually prefer it to Upstairs Downstairs, but I do like UD.

    House of Elliott is being repeated currently here at the moment(UK) and it is wonderful, I had forgotten how much.

    Robin Hood was good to start off with, but did teeter off towards the end. But not as the two I have just mentioned in my humble opinion.

    As someone who has a degree in history and likes historical fiction, approach The Tudors with a very open mind!

    If you do not mind British Comedy then try You Rang M'Lord which is a comedy drama of Upstairs Downstairs/Duchess of Duke Street set after the First World War.

    Should be plenty to keep you going until Downton Abbey.

  19. I watched To Serve Them All My Days when it was first telivised and loved it. And then I read Delederfield's books, and loved them too.

    I can vouch for love for Lydia and The Duchess of Duke Street too.

  20. Have you seen Lark Rise to Candelford? It is definitely not action packed but the characters are wonderful and the scenery is gorgeous. It is kind of like the comfort food of movies!

  21. Col -- The Tudors is definitely at the top of the list. I may have to get The Other Boleyn Girl also since I've read the book.

    Danielle -- I'd never heard of Berkeley Square -- it's on order at my library with 22 holds already! Thanks for the recommendation, it sounds exactly like the sort of thing I'd love.

    Kristen -- I can't decide if I should read the book or just watch the series -- I keep finding great TV adaptations and I'm making my TBR list even longer!

    Johanna -- LOVE Jeeves & Wooster, I watched it this summer with my 10 year old and we couldn't resist, we bought the DVD set at Costco. It worked out to less than $1 per episode so I thought that was a good deal.

    Jo -- I looked for You Rang, M'Lord? -- it looks like it's only on Region 2 DVD, which doesn't work here in the US, sadly. I wonder if Blu-Ray is region-specific?

    FleurFisher -- I think Love for Lydia and To Serve Them All My Days sound great too. I've also found a 1980s series set during the German occupation of the Channel Islands. It's called Enemy at the Door and it sounds really good.

    Sarah -- I haven't seen Lark Rise, but I have the book and I can't decide if I should read it first or watch the series. Also South Riding -- it's saved on the DVR and I wonder if I should read the book first!

  22. I second those who mentioned Brideshead and Jeeves and Wooster. And I liked To Serve Them All My Days. I like the old school stuff from the 80s. I would add (in order of fabulousness:

    Mapp and Lucia - based on the EF Benson books. Perfectly cast and wonderful.


    House of Cards, To Play the King, etc. - Scathing political drama with the awful FU (Francis Urqhart).

    Clatterford (or Jam and Jerusalem) - funny and cosy story about a women in a rural village who belong to the somewhat antiquated Women's Institute.

    Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister - a sit com but worthy of a place on this list.

    All Creatures Great and Small - Rural Yorkshire veterinarian.

    The Flame Trees of Thika - Colonial Kenya

    If you go to the Masterpiece Theater entry on Wikipedia there is a link down at the bottom to all of the MT episodes with so many great things listed that I didn't know existed until now.

  23. I love Brideshead, I watched Duchess of Duke Street when it was on originally too, definitely worth a look. The Tudors is historical nonsense but entertaining. Danger UXB was a 'must watch' for us when it was first on TV. I have Mapp and Lucia on DVD and watch them when I need to be cheered up. What about Barchester Chronicles (1982) with Alan Rickman and many other great actors, very good. Enjoy - whatever!

  24. I enjoyed Love for Lydia. I'd like to see it again.

  25. To Serve Them All My Days - definitely! I love this series. I read the book several times & watched the series every time it was repeated during the 80s. I bought the DVD when it came out & watched it all over again. Just wonderful. I've never got over my crush on John Duttine... He was also an excellent Hindley in the 70s BBC Wuthering Heights.

  26. It seems our taste in tv runs similar--Amazing Race, Modern Family, and The Good Wife are my shows. I just finished rewatching Downton Abbey after finishing The West Wing and whilst taking a mini break from Larkrise to Candleford, which I love. I never did finish The Tudors--stopped at Catherine Howard and didn't feel like finishing. Liked Rome much better!

    Watched the first two seasons of Robin Hood before they ruined the show, IMO, by doing something egregious w one of the main characters.

    I've watched All Creatures countless times and love it so much. You also might like Doc Martin.

    Happy viewing!

  27. We've been watching Jeeves and Wooster and really enjoying it. The fifteen-year-old is a big fan!

  28. Another suggestion, which I thought of after I posted before, is the incomparable As Time Goes By. I cannot express how much I love this series!

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  30. Out of the series you listed, I watched ALL of Robin Hood - love Guy of Gisborne. Saw a couple of Downtown Abbey - 'twas ok. Saw about a season of The Tudors - a bit raunchier than I prefer.

  31. If you're in America, you might enjoy the new series "Once Upon a Time". It was created by the team behind Lost and it's quite well-done (I never got into Lost but I love OUAT).

    The premise is that the Evil Queen of Snow White's story has placed a curse on all fairytale characters, such that they have been relocated to the town of Storybrooke, Maine (in contemporary times) and they cannot remember their former lives. The curse can only be broken if the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming returns and helps them remember. Interspersed with the modern-day, real-life bits are the backstories of each of the fairy tale characters. It's a lot of fun watching the parallels between the two worlds and finding out who everyone is. And the sets and costumes from the fairytale world are fantastic. I highly recommend it!

  32. "The Tudors" was great. Did you watch "Downtown Abbey" ? It is absolutely marvelous !