British romance tv shows

British romance tv shows DEFAULT

Is there anything better then a good love story?

From the blaze of passion between our romantic leads to the agony of two characters whose relationship seems to take two steps back for every step forward, love is what fascinates and keeps us watching just-one-more-episode late into the night.

Here’s a list of 14 of the most romantic couples in British period drama, in no particular order, from our guest writer Jessica Werre:


1. Amy Dorrit and Arthur Clennam in ‘Little Dorrit’

Before Claire Foy was the “queen” of drama in The Crown she won our hearts as sweet kindhearted Amy Dorrit, a seamstress who grew up taking care of her father who has been in debtor’s jail since before she was born.

Arthur Clennam’s valiant determination to right the wrongs that caused Amy’s misfortune begins to slowly win her over – and us as well!

Little Dorrit is available on DVD on Amazon.


2. Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett in ‘Pride and Prejudice’

How can this couple not make this list?

The quiet and stoic Mr Darcy and the sharp-witted Elizabeth Bennet makes for a clever romantic story that we can’t help rewatch again and again.

The BBC’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice mini-series is available on DVD on Amazon.


3. Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey in ‘The Dorothy Sayers Mysteries’

Some relationships are balanced by the strengths of each making up for the weaknesses of the other. In others the romantic tension is caused when the couple meet their match in wits and intelligence in the other.

The story of Harriet Vane, a mystery writer, and Lord Peter Wimsey, the detective who proves her innocent of murder, unfolds into just such a relationship!


4. Tommy and Tuppence in ‘Partners in Crime’

Here is a couple who realised that neither of them fit the traditional roles of working husband and house wife.

What is more romantic then discovering a shared knack for espionage and crime solving?

Partners in Crime is available on DVD on Amazon.


5. Catherine and Heathcliff in ‘Wuthering Heights’

A classic tale of obsessive love and the dividing lines of social class.

Brooding and cast out by all around him, Heathcliff’s often violent display of passion for Catherine is both shocking and mesmerising to this very day.

Wuthering Heights is available on DVD on Amazon.


6. Jane Bennet and Mr Bingley in ‘Pride and Prejudice’

While often overshadowed by Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, we can’t forget kind-hearted Jane and the charming Mr Bingley.

The BBC’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice mini-series is available on DVD on Amazon.


7. Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester in ‘Jane Eyre’

Yet another brooding Bronte hero! But it is our Jane who really makes this relationship one that stands the test of time.

Her strength of character and unwillingness to be stepped on by others is what endears her to our hearts!

Jane Eyre is available on DVD on Amazon.


8. Demelza and Ross Poldark in ‘Poldark’

A romantic relationship fraught will equal parts passion and turbulence.

So much frustration and heartache on the viewer’s part, but we can’t look away…

The first four seasons of Poldark are available on DVD on Amazon.


9. Claire and Jamie Fraser in ‘Outlander’

Another ‘duh’, of course it is on the list!

If there was ever a man that we were shoving past Mr Darcy to get to, it’d be James Fraser!

The first three seasons of Outlander are available to buy on DVD on Amazon.


10. Barbara Gilbert and Tom Hereward in ‘Call the Midwife’

There are so many relationships to choose from in Call the Midwife!

However, sometimes the shyest and sweetness wins the day. Also their wedding is like something out of a fairytale.

The seventh season of Call the Midwife is available now on DVD on Amazon.


11. Mr Bates and Anna in ‘Downton Abbey’

Another show with a sweets shop worth full of classic pairings to choose from.

It was clear from the start that these two characters were meant for each other. But what kept us entranced was the resiliency of Bates and Anna’s relationship through every hardship thrown their way.

Downton Abbey: The Complete Collection box set is available on DVD on Amazon.


12. Juliet Ashton and Dawsey Adams in ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’

A romance that began with letter-writing and the mutual love of books and literature.

Can you get more romantic than that?


13. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in ‘Victoria’

First of all, who wouldn’t love the adorable Jenna Coleman?

But opposite her Tom Hughes plays the noble and intelligent Prince Albert. Together they have perfect chemistry!

The first two seasons of Victoria are available on DVD on Amazon.


14. Lord and Lady Grantham in ‘Downton Abbey’

We like to know that love lasts beyond the fervor of youth – and Lord and Lady Grantham’s relationship reassured us of that.

Downton Abbey: The Complete Collection box set is available on DVD on Amazon.


Did you watch all of Bridgerton in approximately two sittings and obsess over the fact that Julie Andrews was narrating this very steamy regency tale? Even Mary Poppins needs a little drama with a side of consistent boning when it comes to her entertainment. There’s no shame in wanting to block out the whole of 2021 and invest in the love and sex lives of people in 1813.

After eight episodes of matchmaking, weddings, sex, a problematic sexual assault scene, births, rumors, and a narrator who’s the original Gossip Girl, there’s a lot to discuss. Maybe you're done with period romances and want something a little more modern—with maybe a touch more consent and self-awareness. But if you live for the fashion, the accents, the parties, and the longing glances, you might want some more material like Bridgerton (and the book series on which it’s based). As the queen of the period drama—as well as drama while on my period—I’ve got all the suggestions for what you can watch when you’re done analyzing Netflix’s update on Jane Austen-adjacent material and awaiting season 2.

1Downton Abbey (2010-2015)

This is a really great place to start if you want to watch an entire episode built around the fact that something called a “snuff box” is missing. The show follows the aristocratic Crawley family, their servants, and the changing landscape of the social hierarchy in early 20th-Century England. Every single character in this series gets a plotline that is juicier than the last, so you're never bored.

Heads up: there is also a Downton Abbey movie (2019), if you're also looking for another universe that never seems to end.

Watch all six seasons on Amazon Prime

Watch the movie on Hulu

2Belgravia (2020)

This show comes from Downton’s creator, Julian Fellowes, so it’s a good place to go after you've finished with the Crawleys. This series is based on the 2016 novel of the same name that also happens to be authored by Fellowes. This is the story of the Trenchard family, who are part of the nouveau riche in London’s upper class. The family is invited to a ball on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, but the resulting secrets and turmoil last long after the party has ended.

Watch on Amazon Prime

3Gentleman Jack (2019)

Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) was an English landowner whose diaries famously reveal her relationships with other women during a time period when you couldn't exactly scream about your crush on a girl. Season 1 of this show follows Lister as she tries to bring back to life Shibden Hall, her ancestral home. If you’re into a period drama that doesn't revolve around a heterosexual love story, cue up this Sally Wainwright-created series.

Watch on Amazon Prime with an HBO subscription

4The Favourite, 2018

It’s the early 1700s and England is at war with France. Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is on the throne, but she isn’t the one running the country. Her confidante, close friend, and sexual partner, Lady Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz), pretty much runs the show, until Sarah’s cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives on the scene and aims to take over Sarah’s role as the eyes, ears, and…hands most trusted by the queen.

Watch on Amazon

5The Personal History of David Copperfield (2020)

This film is a modern take on Charles Dickens’ novel and famous character, David Copperfield. Starring Dev Patel and directed by Armando Iannucci, this is a much cheerier version of the darker tale about an orphan.

Watch on Amazon

6North and South (2004)

This four-part miniseries adapted from Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1854 novel is about Margaret Hale, a woman from Southern England who’s forced to move to the northern town of Milton. She’s initially repulsed by life in an industrial town, but soon develops a passion to help the deep problem with poverty in her community. In a complex twist, she’s romantically linked to mill owner John Thornton, whose treatment of his employees contrasts with Margaret’s views.

Watch on Amazon

7The English Game (2020)

If you like to mix your historical fiction with your sports, this show is a good bet for you. Another Julian Fellowes series, it’s the story of the game of football (meaning soccer) and how it reached across class divides to unite the world. That Julian Fellowes is really into a social-class drama.

Watch on Netflix

8The Paradise (2012-2013)

This adaptation of Emile Zola's French novel is set in Northern England at the country’s first department store, The Paradise. Denise Lovett (Joanna Vanderham) begins working there and is charmed by her new life of freedom, but she’s also charmed the store’s owner, John Moray (Emun Elliott), who is courting Lady Katherine Glendenning (Elaine Cassidy), the daughter of a wealthy banker and the key to Moray’s financial success.

Watch on Amazon

9Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1975)

The O.G. Downton Abbey, this 1970s series follows the Bellamy family and their servant staff, who live, well, downstairs at their massive townhouse in Belgravia in Central London. Like Downton, Upstairs, Downstairs starts off in the beginning of the 20th Century and follows the fall of the aristocracy during a three-decade period.

If you get through all of Downton and every other Julian Fellowes show, this 50-year-old series is waiting for you on Amazon Prime. The 2010-2012 BBC One reboot is also available on Hulu.

Watch on Amazon

Watch the reboot on Hulu

10Pride and Prejudice (1995 miniseries)

This adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel might always reign as society’s preferred take on this beloved story. It aired in a six-episode miniseries from September 24 to October 29, 1995. Like the Bridgerton siblings, the Bennet sisters feel the pressure to marry into a financially stable household. After all, “it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Jennifer Ehle stars as Elizabeth Bennet while Colin Firth played her brooding love interest, Mr. Darcy.

Watch on Hulu

11Pride & Prejudice (2005 film)

In this film adaptation of Austen's 1813 novel (note that it’s the same year Bridgerton takes place), Kiera Knightley stars as Elizabeth Bennet alongside Donald Sutherland, a pre-An Education Carey Mulligan, a pre-Gone Girl Rosamund Pike, and a pre-Succession Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy. But you can only have one favorite Darcy. That’s the rule.

Watch on Amazon

12Becoming Jane (2007)

Anne Hathaway stars as real-life author Jane Austen, who, much like her heroine Elizabeth, is expected by her financially struggling parents (James Cromwell and Julie Walters) to marry wealthy. Though they want her to marry the nephew of Lady Gresham (Maggie Smith), Jane’s eyes turn to an apprentice lawyer named Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy) who can offer her nothing in the way of financial security. But his inspiration and encouragement might lead her to a richer life filled with passion and creativity.

Watch on Hulu

13Howards End (1992 film)

Based on the 1910 novel by E.M. Forster, this film follows the story of three families: the intellectual Schlegels, the wealthy Wilcoxes, and the working-class Basts. Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson) is courted by the widower Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins), after he becomes the owner of the family home, Howards End, upon the death of his wife Ruth (Vanessa Redgrave). Meanwhile, Margaret’s younger sister, Helen (Helena Bonham Carter), tries to help Leonard Bast (Samuel West), a poor bank clerk, and the Schlegel sisters’ aunt, Juley (Prunella Scales), continues to interfere as the parental, judgmental figure in their lives. This role won Emma Thompson an Oscar for Best Actress in 1993.

Watch on Amazon

14Howards End (2017 miniseries)

Kenneth Lonergan adapted the novel into a series for Masterpiece Classic, this time starring Hayley Atwell as Margeret, Philippa Coulthard as Helen, Matthew Macfadyen as Henry Wilcox, Julia Ormond as Ruth Wilcox, Joseph Quinn as Leonard Bast, and Tracey Ullman as Aunt Juley.

Watch on Hulu

15Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Adapted by Emma Thompson from the 1811 Jane Austen novel and directed by Ang Lee, this story follows the Dashwood sisters, Elinor (Thompson) and Marianne (Kate Winslet), who come from a wealthy English family but suddenly lose their financial security. They are now forced to find stability through marriage, and their respective suitors are Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman at peak-‘90s handsome.

Watch on Amazon Prime

16Rebecca (1940)

In this Alfred Hitchcock adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s novel, a young woman (Joan Fontaine) marries a rich widower (Laurence Olivier), but she finds that his late wife, Rebecca, is still very present at his property. Rebecca died mysteriously years earlier, and the young woman’s new husband, Max de Winter , is very guarded about the events that led to this tragedy. It’s up to the new Mrs. de Winter to face down the ghosts that still haunt the halls of her home.

Buy at the Criterion Collection

17Lost in Austen (2008)

This miniseries’ plot is a dream come true for any Austen fan: A modern-day woman swaps lives with Austen’s most famous heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. Remember, though, life is unfortunately not a novel, so things get complicated when you're a normal human who gets thrown into the literary mix.

Watch on Amazon

18Cranford (2007-2010)

This show is based on a three-book series by Elizabeth Gaskell. Starring Judi Dench, Julia McKenzie, Imelda Staunton, and more, the episodes take place in a small English town where the older women call the shots when it comes to social rules—and their word is law.

Watch on Amazon

19Call the Midwife (2012-2020)

This is more in the direction of World War II dramas, but it’s definitely worth a binge-watch if you haven't done so already. The series is about the nurses, midwives, and nuns at Nonnatus House, and the expecting mothers for whom they care. Every birth is unpredictable, and class challenges often make things even harder. This is a great glimpse into what life was like before modern maternal healthcare (and it’s never boring).

Watch on Amazon

20Emma (2009 miniseries)

Writer Sandy Welch’s adaptation of the Jane Austen classic stars Ramola Garai as Emma Woodhouse, a young woman in Georgian England who busies herself with matchmaking all the eligible couples in her town. Soon, though, Emma learns the consequences of meddling in other people’s lives.

Watch on HBO Max

21Emma (2020 movie)

The adaptation stars Anya Taylor-Joy as the famous matchmaking heroine.

Watch on HBO Max

22Outlander (2014)

British World War II nurse Claire Randall goes on a second honeymoon in Scotland with her husband, Frank, after the war. While there, she is mysteriously transported to 1743 Scotland. If you know anything about Scottish history, you’ll know that this was just before the bloody Jacobite rebellions. Claire meets a Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser, falls in love, and is suddenly caught between two different time periods and…two different men.

Watch on Netflix

Hilary WeaverHilary Weaver is a freelance writer based in New York who writes about politics, queer issues, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, and every woman the Queen has ever made a dame.

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The Best British TV Shows on Netflix

In recent years, fans of British television have been in luck: Thanks to Netflix's partnerships with BBC, Channel 4, and other production studios, it's been able to license and co-produce more than a handful of series, bringing them accessibly stateside for the first time. There's a little something for everyone: Not only does Netflix have the rights to quite a few classic procedurals, there are a lot of sitcoms flaunting their absurd British humor in the mix too. Below, find the best series from across the pond currently available to stream—all of which are worth watching paired with a cup of tea.

Behind Her Eyes (2021)

If you've heard anything about Behind Her Eyes, the Netflix miniseries adapted from Sarah Pinborough's novel, you've probably heard about its wild final episode. As it turns out, the show has approximately a thousand twists—and even though it isn't good, per se, the payoff is rather delicious. Our batshit story begins when single mother Louise (Simona Brown) shows up to new job in a psychiatrist's office, only to find the man (Tom Bateman) she hooked up with the night before is her new boss. It's one trashy twist that gets the ball rolling, as they end up in a heated affair, and she befriends his needy wife (Eve Hewson). If it seems to you like the setup for a salacious but otherwise pretty straightforward drama, you'd be forgiven, because that is exactly what it seems like, but you'd also be wrong. It's shocking and weird—and don't you want to see for yourself what it's really all about?

Bodyguard (2018)

As one might expect, the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch of London’s police service handles a number of dangerous missions. Following officer David Budd, portrayed by Richard Madden of Games of Thrones fame, Bodyguard documents this high-risk job, specifically in the protection of the UK’s Home Secretary (Keeley Hawes). In the Netflix original, although Budd must devote himself to the politician’s protection, he is still reeling from PTSD after serving in Afghanistan, and feels conflicted working for a major proponent of the war. A political thriller at its finest, Bodyguard illustrates the various costs at play in Budd’s role, from his personal views to potential attacks and developing attraction for a woman whose policies he cannot stand—never failing to leave out the drama over the course of six easily bingeable episodes.

Black Mirror (2011– )

Each installment of Charlie Brooker's addictive anthology takes a current techno-social phenomenon—topics that range from hashtags to five-star ratings—to its extreme and asks whether human nature can coexist with it. Part satire and part (unintentional) prophecy, the series presents an appropriately grim view of the future, one that will definitely make you worry for the next generation and maybe even galvanize you into action. You can take in one episode at a time, or digest an entire three-to-six-episode season without batting an eye. 

Broadchurch (2013–2017)

The murder of a young boy stirs up a media frenzy and divides a tight-knit English coastal town, and the proper order of things is further disrupted by the unfiltered hotshot inspector (David Tennant) who arrives just in time to take on the baffling crime and vex a local detective (Olivia Colman) who wanted his job. The episodes of all three seasons mix in the main protagonists' complex personal lives with the well-paced investigation, ensuring that Broadchurch unfurls in a way that'll have you texting your friends to say, "I'm too sick to go out tonight" and automatically clicking "Next Episode."

Call the Midwife (2012– )

The Brits know how to do period pieces, and post-WWII especially well. This series, which starts off at the dawn of the Baby Boom and moves through history accordingly, happens to be one of BBC One's most popular shows that's run for 10 seasons and still going strong. Following a group of midwives—who are convincingly proven to be the pinnacle of all drama, even if you've seldom thought of them as such—Call the Midwife paints colorful characters in a group of working class women in London's East End to explore their struggles and a handful of sociopolitical issues, from the introduction of contraception to legalization of abortion, over time. There's always something with the nurses at the Nonnatus House, and history buffs should be itching to join them.

Thrillist TV

Collateral (2018)

At first glance, Collateral may look like another run-of-the-mill British procedural. But peel back the layers and it becomes something else: not a mystery so much as the first incision of Britain's post-Brexit autopsy, anchored by several dynamic female characters, including a stunning performance from Carey Mulligan as the lead detective on the case in the show. The miniseries comes from playwright and screenwriter David Hare for his TV debut, and follows the investigation into the murder of a pizza delivery man who happens to be a Syrian refugee. It turns out to be a case that’s much more convoluted than it first appeared, and is dissected, along with British politics, over the course of four episodes. It's a BBC/Netflix co-production that ends up defying tropes, elevating its material into something much bigger. 

Crashing (2016)

Unlike many sitcoms featuring young people who seem to have a remarkable number of resources at their disposal, Crashing centers on the relationships that develop among a makeshift community of young property guardians at an abandoned hospital. You'll see where Emmy-winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge appeared ahead of Fleabag, and feel equally taken by the emotional woes that fill the time between partying. At only six short episodes, this lighthearted 20-something comedy definitely deserves a binge.

Criminal: UK (2019– )

It's no denying that the Brits have mastered the crime show. While they never get sick of churning out more run-of-the-mill yet addicting cat-and-mouse detective stories, that doesn't mean they're not interested in switching up the genre, too. Criminal: UK, for instance, which is a part of Netflix's international Criminal series, is a recent twist on it. The anthology is based around the gimmick that each episode takes place within the confines of an investigation room where investigators attempt to pull the truth out of their suspects. The claustrophobia is real, but it's by no means boring. This series is extremely suspenseful as a psychological game unfolds before you.

The Crown (2016– )

The Crown is a well-made (and very expensively made) dramatization of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, leading the British Empire as a young woman through political upheaval. Starring Claire Foy as the Queen in Seasons 1 and 2 opposite Matt Smith as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and then Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies stepping in to take over the roles starting in Season 3, the series features a stellar cast on point in their portrayals of the historical figures. Examining Elizabeth's personal life, the show is confident in its soapiness, which is upped even more as soon as Princess Diana arrives in Season 4. It's opulent in every respect—and it's quite possibly Netflix's best choice for escapism (albeit using a subject that should probably be anything but). If you love royalist porn or British period dramas like Downton Abbey, this will be like a long, slow massage.

Derry Girls (2018– )

Teen shows are often good for some laughs, but few are as goddamn hysterical as Derry Girls. The Channel 4/Netflix co-production about Catholic schoolgirls in the '90s living through the end of the Northern Ireland Troubles is all about their own unfiltered teenaged troubles, and outright laugh-out-loud hilarious. The entire cast and their quirks are near perfect; after a quick binge, you'll find there's no other fictional crew you'd rather kick-back with.

Doctor Foster (2015–2017)

Could you use a drama about a woman scorned—particularly an icy, Shakespearian British thriller that follows a calculating, intelligent woman out for revenge? Doctor Foster puts the seemingly perfect family life of a GP on the operating table when she starts to suspect her husband is having an affair. What follows is her relentless obsession to find out the truth and get back at the man who wronged her. It leads to some serious questionable decision making, but that just means you'll be hooked throughout your entire binge. 

Downton Abbey (2010–2015)

Inside the Downton Abbey estate, a high-society British family jostles against the hired help, but this early-20th-century period piece is no ordinary history lesson. Between arranged betrothals, sabotage among the support staff, an influenza epidemic, cancer scares, risky pregnancies, love triangles in perpetual motion, and even murder, the series is a soapy blast dressed up in 1900s finery. 

The End of the F***ing World (2018–2019)

This isn't your average teen drama. The show, adapted from the popular Charles Forsman graphic novel of the same name, follows a 17-year-old named James as he tries to become the psychopath he thinks he is. Though it sounds a little bit like Dexter Jr., it's really more of a fucked-up love story sans the cliché six-packs and twee romances—something somewhere between Juno and Twin Peaks. In this series' twisted world, to murder means to mature. It's dark and creepy, but it also offers enough humor and tenderness to make what turns into a chaotic road trip across the British country side endearing. Or, as showrunner Jonathan Entwistle told us, "It's an angsty teen story, but with an adult execution"—the word "execution," in this case, carrying particular weight. 

Flowers (2016–2018)

There's no shortage of strange families in gothic stories, and showrunner Will Sharpe's caricature of the fictional Flowers family is perhaps one of the most eccentric, bleakest, yet still funny shows out there. The father, Maurice, is a depressed children's book writer; his wife, played by Olivia Colman, is a music teacher who couldn't be less in love with her husband; and their grown-up twins and Maurice's elderly mother live with them on their eerie estate. It's a bit unsettling, but the comedic tone will leave you seeing your own relatives reflected in this mix. 

Great British Baking Show (2010– )

If you still haven't indulged in this confectionary UK delight, clear enough room for a multi-season binge. Hosts through the seasons—the originals Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, swapped with Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig/Matt Lucas—along with judges—first Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, then Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood—mix charm and no-holds-barred cooking criticism as they navigate a sea of bakers vying to become the next masters of dough-proving, top-glazing, and edge-icing. God forbid Paul finds a soggy bottom. There's something absolutely pure about Great British Baking Show, making it one of the nicest—and we mean that as a plus—reality shows ever to hit television.

The IT Crowd (2006–2013)

The traditional "three-camera" stage sitcom can be done well. Cheers, Seinfeld, and Frasier all mastered it. But by the 2000s, the notion of shooting comedy in front of a live studio audience was all but dead—at least in America. The IT Crowd, starring Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade, and Katherine Parkinson as a lowly tech team residing in the basement of a major British corporation, proved there was still joy to bouncy dialogue and silly sight gags in a modern setting. Tremendously goofy and heartfelt, this show could easily replace hanging out with your actual friends.

The Last Kingdom (2015– )

If you like Game of Thrones, but wish it had zero magic, The Last Kingdom is for you. Set in medieval England, it pits Danish invaders (aka Vikings) against the divided kingdoms on the British Isles. At the center of it all is Uhtred, an English noble captured and raised by the Vikings, but who subsequently fights for the English in battles that help "medieval" live up to its reputation as a time when the brutality of humans was perpetually on display in bloody hand-to-hand combat.

Marcella (2016– )

Do you like British mystery shows that wrap up over the course of eight tightly wound, 45-minute episodes? This one is for you. Starring Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies) as a London detective bouncing back from a nasty split and a turbulent entry into single motherhood, the hard-nosed series pairs serial killer investigation with familial struggle, which only intensifies when the main mystery connects to Marcella's husband's current employers.

Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969–1974)

If you have a hankering for absurdist British humor, Monty Python remains the cream of the crop. Their original sketch comedy show Monty Python's Flying Circus is where it all began, and the skits laced with innuendos, surrealist bits, and shockingly highbrow references are always worth a rewatch—the "It's" man and Pepperpots will never not be funny. 

Peaky Blinders (2013– )

Cillian Murphy stars in this early-20th-century period drama as Thomas Shelby, a World War I vet-turned-patriarchal crime boss who wants to up his family's social and financial status in England. The Shelbys' story plays out as historical fiction, loosely inspired by the exploits of real-life gangs based in Birmingham around the late 1800s and early 1900s. Rivaling bands of thugs clash for underworld influence here in a way that is not unlike on Game of Thrones, just on a less fantastical scale: high-stakes political power plays, shady back-room dealings, and gritty tussles abound, with enough blood to rival the Red Wedding. (The show's name comes from the razor blades stitched in the Shelbys' flat caps, after all.) 

Ripper Street (2012–2016)

You might assume Ripper Street is yet another rehash of one of the UK's most infamous serial killers, Jack the Ripper, but the series is much more captivating than that. It takes place six months after the murderer's reign of terror on London, following the H Division police precinct who are committed to keeping the East End safe. It's a mystery-of-the-week series that's both gritty and compelling in terms of its attention to detail with its late 1800s setting. Plus, you'll get to see Pride and Prejudice and Succession's Matthew Macfadyen doing great work as the series' lead detective Edmund Reid who's haunted by a troubled past. What more could a fan of British crime want?

Sex Education (2019– )

Creator Laurie Nunn's British teen dramedy about Otis (Asa Butterfield), the son of a sex therapist who somewhat unwittingly parlays his secondhand sexual knowledge into a successful business counseling fellow students is a Netflix original gem. Although the show is anchored by Butterfield, his business associate Maeve played by Emma Mackey, and Gillian Anderson (as Otis' mom, Jean), the ensemble cast adds nuance to a story that could gone low and focused merely on the sex, but opted for a more thoughtful route. The incredible chemistry between all of the cast members and an undeniable John Hughes vibe (think Pretty in Pink) elevate this easily binged show above a sea of mediocre teen angst programs.

Still Game (2002–2019)

Still Game is like if Golden Girls was 10x more crude and focused on a pair of elderly Scottsmen. Which is to say, the show—created by and starring Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill, who recycled their curmudgeonly loud-mouthed characters Jack and Victor from their sketch show Chewin' the Fat—is funny as hell. You might have a tough time picking up all of their Glaswegian slang, but you'll be laughing at their complaints of the fictional Craiglang as they scrape by on their pensions and bug their neighbors in no time. 

Toast of London (2012– )

Point blank: Matt Berry is hilarious. So, watching him play a washed up theater actor in the ridiculous Toast of London is  pure joy, even if it means (or, rather especially if it means) his character is flailing through life. As the titular Steven Toast, Berry fumbles through attempts to make it big as a star of the stage, taking up odd jobs when his auditions fall through and ignoring the concerns he should really be focusing on in his personal life. It's outrageous and irreverent, but that's showbiz, baby. 

Top Boy (2011– )

Thanks to Drake, this underrated crime drama is seeing a second life on Netflix. It originally aired (and ended too soon) from 2011–2013, but was tabbed for a reboot by the rapper and the series' original showrunners. It's a gritty story about the hustle of two drug dealers in East London (Ashley Walters and Kane Robinson) and the overwhelming trials they face trying to make it on the street. You'll be absolutely gripped, and the cast's portrayal of young men grappling with morality is as vulnerable as they come. (Just know, in order to watch the full series, Seasons 1 and 2 were renamed to Top Boy: Summerhouse and appear as a separate show on Netflix—but they're both available for your bingeing pleasure.) 

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From the popular to the lesser-known, here are twenty binge-worthy romantic period drama TV series you need to check out!

Romance. Period Drama. A binge-able TV show. The perfect combination. If you’re a period drama fanatic like we are at The Silver Petticoat Review, you know just how much fun watching period drama television is. However, if you’ve yet to embrace the joy of binging a romantic period drama TV series, you’re in for a treat.

RELATED: Where to Watch the Best Jane Austen Movies Right Now 

We’ve rounded up 20 of the best and most romantic period drama TV series to watch of all time. From popular period drama shows like Downton Abbey to underrated series you should put on your watchlist, these choices include heart-thumping romance for you to swoon over.

Now, this list only includes TV shows. So, no miniseries or limited series (including most K-Dramas) on the list. That’s for another day. So, without further ado, in alphabetical order, here is our list of some (not all) of the best romantic period drama TV shows ever! Enjoy!

Note: The availability of the shows is based on U.S. availability and is subject to change.

Romantic Period Drama TV Series to Watch

20 of the Most Romantic Period Drama TV Series to Watch - Pinterest image

1. A Place to Call Home (2013-2018)

A Place to Call Home.

Acorn TV Synopsis: This “instantly irresistible saga” (Wall Street Journal) is brimming with secrets, passion, romance, and intrigue. Over six addictive seasons, A Place to Call Home explores the ties that hold families together and the betrayals that can tear them apart.

Where to Watch: Stream on Acorn TV, Hoopla, or buy on Digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch: This underrated Australian series is fantastically written with a perfect cast. Romance fans will enjoy a few different romances, though the best, in my opinion, belongs to the love story between Carolyn and Jack, played by real-life married couple Craig Hall and Sara Wiseman.

Besides the romance, the stories and characters will grab hold of your heart and never let go. Plus, it’s entertaining, addictive, and binge-able.

Content Note: Episodes range between TV-PG to TV-MA. There is brief strong language, brief nudity, a few scenes of violence, and a few explicit scenes throughout the six seasons.

2. Call the Midwife (2012-)

Call the Midwife. Barbara and Tom. 20 of the Most Romantic Period Drama TV Series to Watch

Netflix Synopsis: Newly qualified midwife Jenny Lee arrives in the East End to embark on a challenging career alongside an order of nursing nuns.

Where to Watch: Stream on Netflix and Hoopla. When new seasons air, you can stream it on PBS Passport. You can buy it on Digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch: If you enjoy heartwarming period dramas with amazing female characters, this British show is a must-see. While the series is heartbreaking at times, it’s also full of romance and female friendships.

Romance fans have romances between Chummy (played by the always wonderful Miranda Hart) and the PC Peter, a love story between a nun and a Doctor, the optimistic and kind Barbara with the handsome Reverend Tom, and more.

Whether you enjoy the happily-ever-after stories or the tragic romances, you’ll have plenty to love.

Content Note: TV-14 for intense birthing scenes and thematic elements.

3. Downton Abbey (2010-2015)

Matthew and Mary in Downton Abbey. 20 of the Most Romantic Period Drama TV Series to Watch

AmazonSynopsis: Downton Abbey — a sprawling, lavish Edwardian mansion nestled in the Yorkshire landscape — needs an heir. Dame Maggie Smith stars as Violet, the stubborn Dowager Countess of Grantham matriarch of Downton. Hugh Bonneville stars as her son, the stoic, unflappable Lord Crawley. Elizabeth McGovern is his far-sighted American wife, Cora. From Academy Award-winner Julian Fellowes. This is the original un-edited UK version of the program.

Where to Watch: You can stream on Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, or PBS Passport. You can also buy on Digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch: The British period drama TV series has become a pop culture phenomenon for a reason. The show is unabashedly romantic, entertaining, and fun to watch. Don’t be surprised if you become obsessed with it and even plan trips to see the real Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle).

Content Note: TV-PG/TV-14 for sensuality, mild innuendo, and mild violence.

4. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993-1998)

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman - Sully and Dr. Mike

Amazon Synopsis: Dr. Michaela “Mike” Quinn, daughter of a doctor, leaves her stable life in Boston — answering an ad for a town doctor in Colorado Springs.

Where to Watch: Buy on Digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch: One of the main reasons I watched this show as a kid was for the love story between Dr. Quinn and Sully! And while this show is on the cheesy side, it’s an enjoyable ’90s series the whole family can enjoy. Jane Seymour is always fabulous too. So, if you’re looking for good, old-fashioned entertainment with a female lead, this is a great choice.

Content Note: TV-PG for mild violence and suspenseful situations.

5. Dracula (2013-2014)

Dracula Cast.

NBC Synopsis: Golden Globe winner Jonathan Rhys Meyers (“The Tudors”) stars in this provocative new drama as one of the world’s most iconic characters. It’s the late 19th century, and the mysterious Dracula has arrived in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who wants to bring modern science to Victorian society.

He’s especially interested in the new technology of electricity, which promises to brighten the night – useful for someone who avoids the sun. But he has another reason for his travels: he hopes to take revenge on those who cursed him with immortality centuries earlier. Everything seems to be going according to plan…until he becomes infatuated with a woman who appears to be a reincarnation of his dead wife.

Where to Watch: You can stream for free at or on the app. You can also buy the series on Digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch: While NBC canceled the series after season one, it’s worth watching if you enjoy a mix of British period drama, romantic vampires, gaslamp, and steampunk. The love story is charming, Jonathan Rhys Meyers broods brilliantly as the Byronic monster, and the supporting characters are excellent.

Content Note: TV-14 for sensuality, violence, and intense scenes.

6. Gran Hotel (Grand Hotel) (2011-2013)

Grand Hotel - Edwardian Period

Netflix Synopsis: When Julio Olmedo discovers his sister Cristina has vanished from the Grand Hotel under suspicious circumstances, he poses as a waiter to learn more.

Where to Watch: Stream on Netflix.

Why You Should Watch: Because it’s one of the best, most swoon-worthy romantic period dramas of all time! It has everything from the star-crossed romance to mystery to shocking twists and more. You won’t be able to stop watching this excellent period drama.

Word of mouth made this Spanish series so popular that numerous remakes have popped up worldwide, including a new contemporary American version. But don’t miss out on watching the original – it’s by far the best!

Not to mention, the romantic leading man, Yon Gonzalez, could give Aidan Turner a run for his money!

Content Note: TV-PG for one brief explicit scene, sensuality, and suspense.

7. The Hour (2011-2012)

The Hour

Acorn TV Synopsis: Set in the 1950s, this Emmy-winning and Golden Globe-nominated BBC drama delves into the high-stakes world of TV news. Ben Whishaw (Spectre), Romola Garai (Emma), and Dominic West (The Affair) headline an all-star cast that includes Anna Chancellor (Ordeal by Innocence) and Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who). “Among the best of [its] genre…with a style and intelligence all its own” – The New York Times.

Where to Watch: Stream on Acorn TV, Roku, Tubi, or buy on Digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch: The slow-burn romance between Bel and Freddie builds to an epic climax, showcasing Garai and Whishaw’s undeniable chemistry. And while The Hour was unfairly canceled after season 2, this series’ brilliance can’t be understated. The Hour is the romantic period drama TV series to watch if you enjoy thinking shows.

Content Note: TV-14 for a few explicit love scenes, violence, and language.

8. Lark Rise to Candleford (2008-2011)

lark rise to candleford

BritBox Synopsis: Rich, funny and emotional, the first season follows the relationship of two contrasting communities. Seen through the eyes of young Laura, their inhabitants endure many upheavals and struggles as the inexorable change comes; their stories by turns poignant, spirited and uplifting.

Where to Watch: You can stream on Hulu, BritBox, or BritBox on Amazon Channels. You can also buy on digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch:Lark Rise will become your one weakness! (This reason will become clear once you’ve seen the series.) Kidding aside, this is one of the best period drama TV shows due to the memorable romances, interesting, layered characters, and brilliant emotional stories. With a top-notch cast including popular period drama favorites and excellent writing, you can’t go wrong with this series.

Content Note: TV-PG. Safe viewing for the entire family.

9. Mercy Street (2016-2017)

Mercy Street. 20 of the Most Romantic Period Drama TV Series to Watch

Amazon Synopsis: Based on real events, Mercy Street takes viewers beyond the battlefield and into the lives of a distinctive cast of characters – doctors, nurses, contraband laborers and Southern loyalists – realizing the chaotic world of Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia, and the Mansion House Hospital in the early years of the Civil War.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, PBS Passport. You can also buy on digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch: While the series starts a little slow, it picks up the pace and includes a few different intriguing romances. It’s also got a great story with an excellent cast, and the series has a fantastic ending.

Content Note: TV-14 for implied assault, violence, and intense medical scenes, and brief strong language.

10. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012-2015)

Jack and Miss Fisher. 20 of the Most Romantic Period Drama TV Series to Watch

IMDBSynopsis: A female sleuth sashays through the back lanes and jazz clubs of Melbourne in the late 1920s, fighting injustice with her pearl-handled pistol and her dagger sharp wit.

Where to Watch: Hoopla, Acorn TV. You can also buy on digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch: For Miss Fisher’s wit, her incredible costumes, and the synergistic romance between Detective Jack and Phryne Fisher! There’s also a cute romance between her assistant, Dot, and the adorable Hugh Collins. This romantic mystery series became an international hit because it’s fabulous! It was so popular that fans from around the world recently crowdfunded a new movie.

Content Note: TV-14 for sensuality, innuendo, brief strong language, and intense situations.

11. Mr. Selfridge (2013-2016)

Mr Selfridge

IMDB Synopsis: Centers on the real-life story of the flamboyant and visionary American founder of Selfridge’s, London’s department store.

Where to Watch: PBS Passport. You can also buy on digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch: While many feel Jeremy Piven was miscast as the lead, the series as a whole is superb. With romance and engaging drama, you can’t go wrong with this romantic period drama TV show.

Katherine Kelly and Amanda Abbington are scene-stealers, and the romance between Agnes and Henry is passionate and charming.

Content Note: TV-14, but the overall series is mild.

12. Outlander (2014-)

Outlander. 20 of the Most Romantic Period Drama TV Series to Watch

IMDB Synopsis: An English combat nurse from 1945 is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743.

Where to Watch: Starz and Netflix. You can also buy on digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch: For the epic Claire and Jamie romance! While I found the show too explicit and gave up eventually, the fantastic love story across time is undeniable, and the writing is excellent.

Content Note: TV-MA for excessive explicit content. So, just be aware.

13. The Paradise (2012-2013)

paradise - denise and moray

AmazonSynopsis of The Paradise: Made homeless by the death of her father and with nothing to live on but her wits, Denise comes from the country to work in the spectacularly glamorous Ladies Paradise, England’s first department store. So begins our rags-to-riches story of a young girl who falls in love with the intoxicating and dangerous charms of the modern world.

Where to Watch: The Paradise is available to stream on Prime Video or to buy on digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch:The Paradise is based on the classic French novel, but tells a unique story separate from the book. The characters are excellent, the writing superb, and you won’t want to miss the swoony Moray and Denise romance.

Content Note: The British series is TV-PG-like.

14. Poldark (2015-2019)

Poldark. 20 of the Most Romantic Period Drama TV Series to Watch

Amazon Synopsis: It’s 1783 and Ross Poldark returns from the American War of Independence to his beloved Cornwall to find his world in ruins: his father dead, the family mine long since closed, his house wrecked and his sweetheart pledged to marry his cousin. But Ross finds that hope and love can be found when you are least expecting it.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, PBS Passport. You can also buy on digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch: For the epic romance between Ross and Demelza! Plus, Aidan Turner, as a period drama leading man, is one of the best. He broods like Heathcliff and brings his best acting to the performance. Besides Turner, the rest of the cast also shines. Overall, it’s a brilliant romantic period drama series based on a series of popular novels.

Content Note: TV-14 for sensuality, mild violence, and intense scenes.

15. Reign (2013-2017)

Reign - Renaissance and Elizabethan Era. 20 of the Most Romantic Period Drama TV Series to Watch

Netflix Synopsis: This vivid historical drama series tells of the rise to power of Mary, Queen of Scots…

Where to Watch: Stream on Netflix or buy on digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch: If you prefer historical accuracy, this is not the show for you! However, if you enjoy YA romance, historical fantasy, and Megan Follows (Anne of Green Gables), then this is a fun, entertaining show.

Megan Follows as Catherine de Medici and Craig Parker as Narcisse play the sympathetic villains/heroes and steal the show with their conniving plotting and zippy one-liners. Trust me. If you miss these two actors on screen together, you’re missing out.

But what about the romance? This show is, by definition, a romance – the most significant romance between Mary and Francis. But there is plenty of love to go around.

Content Note: TV-14 for a few semi-explicit love scenes, violence, and mild profanity.

16. Road to Avonlea (1990-1996)

Gus and Felicity

OfficialSynopsis: A young girl (Sarah Polley) is sent to live with her mother’s relatives in Prince Edward Island. Set in the early 1900’s, the series follows her adventures, as well as that of her family and the town’s people as she grows up in Avonlea.

Where to Watch: Buy digitally from Gazebo TV. You can also buy the series on DVD.

Why You Should Watch: If you loved the ’80s Anne of Green Gables, then the spin-off TV series is a must-see. The show is sweet, inspiring, and nostalgic. It’s also well-written with fantastic romances (Gus and Felicity!), amazing characters, and memorable stories. It’s my favorite show of all time. Whenever I need to de-stress, this is the show I watch!

Content Note: TV-G/PG. It’s safe for the entire family.

17. Scarlet Heart (2011)/ Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016)

Scarlet Heart: Ryeo

Viki Synopsis of Scarlet Heart: After a terrible car accident, 25-year-old Zhang Xiao (Liu Shi Shi) travels from modern-day China back to the 18th century. She is incarnated as one of her previous lives – that of 16-year-old Maertai Rouxi, the daughter of a Manchu general, during the Qing Dynasty.

Wikipedia Synopsis of Scarlet Heart Ryeo: During a total solar eclipse, a 25-year-old 21st-century woman, Go Ha-jin (Lee Ji-eun), is transported back in time to the Goryeo Dynasty. She wakes up in the year of 941 in the body of Hae Soo, among the many royal princes of the ruling Wang family.

She initially falls in love with the gentle and warm-hearted 8th Prince Wang Wook (Kang Ha-neul), and later Wang So (Lee Joon-gi), the fearsome 4th Prince who hides his face behind a mask and is given the derogatory label of “wolf dog.” As the story develops, Hae Soo finds herself unwittingly caught between the rivalry and politics among the princes over the fight for the throne.

Where to Watch: Watch Scarlet Heart on Viki. Currently, you can only buy Scarlet Heart Ryeo on DVD due to the shutdown of Dramafever. But, hopefully, the show will become available again shortly.

Why You Should Watch: If you enjoy time-travel romance or historical romance, both the Chinese and Korean adaptations are excellent. I prefer the Korean one, but it’s all dependent on your taste! The Chinese series has two seasons, while the Korean only one. The latter has a cliffhanger, and no word of a season two has yet happened. So, it’s unlikely to at this point. Thankfully, it’s not hard to guess what happens next.

Content Note: TV-14 for violence.

18. Kurt Seyit and Şura (2014)

Kurt Seyit and Sura. 20 of the Most Romantic Period Drama TV Series to Watch

IMDB Synopsis: The love story of Kurt Seyit, an army major, and Sura, a Russian woman.

Where to Watch: Currently unavailable (it was on Netflix, so hopefully, they’ll bring it back!)

Why You Should Watch: For the epic love story! This Turkish series is both romantic and entertaining. A true story also inspires it. If you’re looking to dip your toes into a foreign period drama TV series, this is a fantastic choice.

Content Note: TV-14

19. Victoria (2016-)

Victoria. 20 of the Most Romantic Period Drama TV Series to Watch

Amazon Synopsis: Created by Daisy Goodwin, this ambitious drama presents the early years of one of history’s greatest monarchs.

Where to Watch: PBS Passport, Peacock, and Amazon Prime. You can also buy on digital and DVD.

Why You Should Watch: This is one of the better romantic period drama TV series. No one does period drama better than the British, and this is an excellent example of that. With gorgeous costumes, unforgettable romances, and an entertainment factor, this is a must-see series.

Content Note: TV-PG for sensuality and intense scenes.

20. When Calls the Heart (2014-)

Jack and Elizabeth in When Calls the Heart.

IMDBSynopsis: Elizabeth Thatcher, a young school teacher from a wealthy Eastern family, migrates from the big city to teach school in a small coal-mining town in the west.

Where to Watch: Netflix. You can also buy on digital or DVD.

Why You Should Watch: If you enjoy Hallmark romances, you’ll likely enjoy their romantic period drama series! While it’s on the cheesy side, it’s a fun show to watch with the whole family. And the romance is good too.

Content Note: TV-G

What is your favorite romantic period drama TV series? Do you have other recommendations? Let us know in the comments!

Photo credit: BBC, Acorn, ITV, Antena 3, STARZ

20 of the Most Romantic Period Drama TV Series to Watch - Pinterest image


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Categories Amazon Prime, British Dramas, Foreign Romance, Hallmark, Historical Romance, International, Korean Dramas, Lists, Modern Romanticism, Movies & TV, Netflix, Period Dramas, Romance, Romantic Drama, Romanticism, StreamingBy Amber Toppingon July 9th, 2019

About Amber Topping

Amber works as a blogger/writer full-time and fell in love with stories and imagination at an early age. She has a Humanities and Film Degree from BYU, co-created The Silver Petticoat Review, contributed as a writer to various magazines, and has an MS in Publishing from Pace University, where she received the Publishing Award of Excellence and wrote her thesis on transmedia, Jane Austen, and the romance genre. Her ultimate dreams are publishing books, writing and producing movies, traveling around the world, and forming a creative village of talented storytellers trying to change the world through art.

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Tv shows romance british

The Best British TV Romantic Comedies to Stream Right Now

Photo-Illustration: Maya Robinson/Vulture

When it comes to British romantic comedies, the first images that pop into people’s minds are visions of a dashing Hugh Grant or Colin Firth gracing the big screen in their glory years. With the current rise of rom-coms on television, however, the best shows from across the pond also offer the freshest and funniest takes on modern romance, from the courtships and the marriages to, gasp, the children. Below, Vulture rounds up the best British TV rom-coms from the past decade for your viewing pleasure, all of which are available to stream.

Lovesick (2014 – present)

Formerly known as Scrotal Recall, this amusing series follows the exploits of a young man who gets diagnosed with chlamydia, then begins a quest to inform all of his previous sexual partners about his condition. Along for the adventure of a lifetime are his two best friends, one of whom he has a secret crush on. Don’t be turned off by the show’s former name — it’s very cute!
Where to watch: Netflix

Catastrophe (2015 – present)

An American ad executive (Rob Delaney) visiting London for a business trip has a fleeting and passionate week-long romance with an Irish teacher (the delightful Sharon Horgan), which starts out fantastic, before it’s revealed they unexpectedly made a baby and have to deal with the aftermath. Come for the fresh and honest take on modern romance, stay for the late Carrie Fisher’s role as Delaney’s overbearing mother.
Where to watch: Amazon

Gavin & Stacey (2007 – 2010)

A young woman from Wales and a young man from England have been romancing each other over the phone for months, so when they finally come together to properly meet, their two worlds come crashing together — friends and family and all — as their in-person relationship charmingly begins. Bonus: Pre–Late Show James Corden plays a key supporting role.
Where to watch: Hulu

Threesome (2011 – 2012)

A group of three close friends — a young woman, her boyfriend, and their gay best friend — decide to have a threesome after a particularly wild night of partying, only to discover a few weeks later that the woman became pregnant from it. When she decides against an abortion, the trio choose to raise the child together and not find out who the real father is, in perhaps one of the most overwhelmingly modern arrangements of all time.
Where to watch: Amazon

Chewing Gum (2015 – present)

There are plenty of reasons to check out this hidden gem, but if you need a refresher, Chewing Gum follows a 20-something religious virgin (an excellent Michaela Coel) who wants to learn more about sex and the world around her. While she may be extremely inexperienced in just about everything, she’s finally ready to realize her potential … no matter how awkward it might be.
Where to watch: Netflix

Him & Her (2010 – 2013)

This anti-rom-com explores the simple premise of two 20-something lovebirds who only want to hang out, have sex, and eschew all responsibilities. (Ah, what a life.) Despite their inherent laziness, the two protagonists have a lot of heart, and watching their romance unfold into something more mature is a dirty-joke-filled joy from start to finish.
Where to watch: Hulu

Pulling (2006 – 2009)

Before she co-created Catastrophe, Sharon Horgan was one of the minds behind Pulling, which centers around three dissimilar (and dare we say unlikable) female friends who live together in London as they attempt to navigate their way through romances and life in general. The series’s main takeaway? Single life is definitely not romantic … at all.
Where to watch: Amazon,iTunes

Lost in Austen (2008)

Taking a page right out of the Narnia playbook, an increasingly dissatisfied (and Jane Austen obsessed) young woman in modern-day London gets transported to the setting of Pride and Prejudice via a portal in her bathroom. She lives out all of her period-drama fantasies, romances a few key characters, and might even alter all of the pivotal events in the beloved novel as we know it.
Where to watch: Amazon, Hulu

The Best British TV Rom-Coms to Stream Right NowSours:
10 Best TV Period Dramas Ever

Americans love British exports, from Burberry trenchcoats to Dyson vacuum cleaners. But perhaps our most-loved product from across the pond is British television. No one does a period drama like the Brits, but lest you think British TV is all about costume dramas and cozy mysteries, don’t get it twisted. From crime dramas to sitcoms to teen dramedies, British TV has all the genres you know and love, inflected with the region’s own particular sensibility.

With the advent of streaming services like Netflix opening our TV selection beyond national cable programming, we now have a window peering directly into what’s cooking across the pond. Sometimes literally. Why limit yourself to reruns of your American favorites with the U.K. has so much to discover? Take a note from the Book of Fleabag: What’s posh in the U.K. today is posh in the U.S. tomorrow. (See: The Great British Baking Show, Sex Education, Peaky Blinders, etc.)

Do yourself a favor and give these British titles a gander. After all, it’s a fit night for a pint and the telly, innit, bruv?

Okay, fine, we’ll stop. Here are the best British TV series on Netflix.


Bridgerton’s Regency-era London is a hotbed of social warfare, where maidens and their ambitious mothers jockey to outmaneuver one another in the competitive world of high-society matchmaking. Reigning over this marriage market is Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews), an anonymous scribbler whose tell-all scandal sheet can sink or save a debutante’s fortunes. The Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), who has forsworn marriage, finds a lifeline in Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), the sheltered but spirited eldest daughter of a powerful family, with whom he masterminds a sham romance that blossoms unbidden into something real. Sexy and whip smart, Netflix’s most-watched show of all time is a must watch.

Watch Now

Land Girls

Set during World War II, Land Girls is centered on four members of the Women’s Land Army, a wartime civil organization that replaced farmhands turned soldiers with women ready to work the land. Nancy, Joyce, Bea, and Annie all become Land Girls for different reasons, but bond quickly at the Hoxley Estate, where they work the Pasture Farm in the shadow of the opulent manor. As the world around them changes at warp speed, so too do their personal lives, but the Land Girls always have each other, as this winsome series reminds us.

Watch Now

Grand Designs

Can’t get enough of The Great British Baking Show? If you’ve watched every episode, migrate over to Grand Designs, a reality show following design-minded Brits as they build their dream homes on a shoestring budget. Unlike the cheery gloss of HGTV, Grand Designs gets real about how building a home can wreck your budget and your sanity. Come for for the spectacular homes, but stay for the deeply human look into the harsh realities of renovation.

Watch Now

Sex Education

This hit dramedy follows the life of a sex therapist’s son who, upon approaching adolescence, realizes that his home environment of sexual literacy could translate to serious social currency at school. He teams up with his classmate, the resident rebel of his grade, to start a sex advice business for his classmates.

Watch Now

The Great British Baking Show

Deemed by many as one of the most peaceful watches on Netflix, The Great British Baking Show is Great Britain’s amateur baking competition show. Think Chopped or Cake Boss, but half the stakes and under a draped tent in the midst of rolling meadows.

Watch Now

Peaky Blinders

A British period crime drama set in the aftermath of WWI, Peaky Blinders is centered on a family-run gang of the same name who at the time held great power in the city of Birmingham. In a phase of shifting powers and structures, the Peaky Blinders gang comes to the attention of the British government, sending a private investigator to thwart their growth.

Watch Now


Pre-Fleabag Phoebe Waller-Bridge writes and stars in this demented Friends-esque comedy-drama. Crashing follows the interwoven stories of six twenty-something roommates living in a reappropriated hospital building.

Watch Now

The Crown

Based on its creator Peter Morgan’s play The Audience and film The Queen,The Crown follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II from her ascension to the throne in 1947 to her 21st century rule. The historical drama is as compelling as it is accurate, lending a unique lens on one especially influential woman’s life and legacy.

Watch Now

The Inbetweeners

A classic coming of age sitcom, The Inbetweeners tells of the awkward, in-between days of four suburban teens navigating adolescence. Its candid protagonists are as loveable as they are abhorrent, as they clumsily bull-in-a-China-shop their way through school, sex, friendship, and maturity.

Watch Now


Broadchurch is a serial crime drama set in a fictional town of the same name in Dorset, England, just off the English Channel. The series follows the town’s local police detectives, with each season focusing upon a specific crime investigation.

Watch Now


Carey Mulligan stars as Kip Glaspie, a London-based detective inspector, in this four-part police procedural. Initially assigned to investigate the shooting of a pizza delivery man, Glaspie soon unravels a web of collateral characters.

Watch Now


A contemporary adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous Sherlock Holmes detective series, Sherlock revisits the age-old duo of Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, and Dr. John Watson, played by Martin Freeman, in modern-day England. Watson, having returned home from serving in Afghanistan, becomes flatmates with Holmes in London and begins assisting him in his investigations. Oh, and did we mention Watson has a blog this time around?

Watch Now


In this drama, a war veteran is assigned to protect the Home Secretary, an ambitious politician whose platform directly conflicts with the veteran’s own politics. As their relationship progresses, his moral dilemma grows increasingly complicated with his professional obligations to protect her.

Watch Now

Top Boy

Set in a public housing estate of East London, Top Boy tells the story of two young men running a drug-dealing business with hopes of becoming the local “Top Boy,” or the wealthiest man in the neighborhood. The drama series pivots betweens its high-stakes plotlines and the realism of its various residents’ honest daily struggles.

Watch Now

The End of the F***ing World

Based on Charles Forsman’s graphic novel of the same name, The End of the F***ing World follows an unlikely pair of teens: James, a self-proclaimed psychopath determined to kill his rebellious classmate, and Alyssa, his rebellious classmate. When Alyssa proposes they run away together on an outlandish adventure, James’s elaborate plans to kill her grow complicated as the two develop a unique bond.

Watch Now

Call the Midwife

Jenny, a newly qualified midwife in 1950s East London, ends up on an unexpected first assignment when she finds herself at a convent. Surrounded by intimidating nuns of varying personalities, Jenny navigates her new environment in stride as she develops a unique bond with her fellow nurses and patients.

Watch Now

Derry Girls

This British sitcom is, ironically, set in Northern Ireland during the near-end of the Troubles in Derry. The hilariously irreverent yet poignant series follows a crew of teens, four girls and one boy, attending an all girls’ Catholic school, as they navigate adolescence amidst a national crisis.

Watch Now

The IT Crowd

Set in the fictional offices of Reynholm Industries, The IT Crowd follows the antics of three members of Reynholm’s IT team, along with glimpses into its various other departments. The IT Crowd must survive as a self-maintaining microcosm, as the three have been relegated to the company basement.

Watch Now


This British sitcom follows Dylan Witter, a quite literally lovesick young man, as he must retroactively contact all of his previous lovers to tell them of his recent chlamydia diagnosis. Within Dylan’s episodic flashbacks of lovers past, the series also explores his roommates and their personal lives in Glasgow, Scotland.

Watch Now

Adrienne WestenfeldAssistant EditorAdrienne Westenfeld is a writer and editor at Esquire, where she covers books and culture.

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3Vanity Fair

We're living in the era of the Hollywood remake, and one classic tale recently reimagined for the small screen is William Makepeace Thackeray's 1847 serial novel, Vanity Fair. Olivia Cooke stars in the series, which tells the story of Becky Sharp, an orphan determined to improve her station in life—by any means necessary.

How to Watch: Vanity Fair is available to watch on Amazon.

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4The Bodyguard

This political thriller starring Richard Madden (a.k.a. Game of Thrones's Robb Stark) captured the British imagination in 2018, and now it's available to stream stateside. Madden's character plays the titular bodyguard, who is assigned to protect a high-profile British politician. The show follows the pair as they navigate a particularly complicated political landscape.

How to Watch:The Bodyguard is available on Netflix.

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A self-destructive detective, Luther is skilled but emotionally impulsive when solving cases. Idris Elba's iconic portrayal of the morose detective creates a drama that is both thrilling and unnerving.

How to Watch:Luther is available on Netflix.

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6A Very English Scandal

Hugh Grant stars in this BBC docudrama about the Jeremy Thorpe scandal. Thorpe, played by Grant, was a British politician in the 1970s, who was arrested on charges that he conspired to have his lover, Norman Scott, murdered during a time of widespread homophobia in the United Kingdom.

How to Watch: A Very English Scandal is available on Amazon.

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7The Miniaturist

When Jessie Burton's novel The Miniaturist was first put up for sale, it prompted a bidding war between publishers. Now, the mysterious story of Petronella (Nella) Oortman and her doll house has been adapted into a three-part miniseries.

How to Watch: The Miniaturist is available on Amazon.

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More: The True Story Behind the Cabinet House in The Miniaturist


One of many royal period dramas on this list, Victoria centers around the young Queen Victoria in the early years of her reign. Season three, which premiered in January 2019, explored revolutions across Europe, and how Victoria's relationships with parliament, her husband Prince Albert, and her people change after she has children. The show has been on hiatus, but fans are still hoping for a season four.

How to Watch: Previous seasons of Victoria are available on Amazon.

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Reminiscent of Shameless with its controversial story lines—think: dysfunctional families, mental illness, and adolescent sexuality—Skins follows the lives of a group of teenagers living in Bristol.

How to Watch:Skins is available on Netflix.

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10The Crown

The Crown explores Queen Elizabeth II's life from the 1940s onward, chronicling her early reign. In the forthcoming season 5, Imelda Staunton will replace Olivia Colman (who replaced Claire Foy) as England's monarch, but until then, the first four seasons make for perfect binge-watching.

How to Watch: The Crown is available to watch on Netflix.

More: 12 Shows You Should Watch After Finishing The Crown

11Ted Lasso

Now, I'm not sure if Ted Lasso actually counts as a British TV show, but it's set in London, so we'll allow it. This Apple TV+ series about an unqualified American football coach who is recruited to manage a soccer team, is more than its premise: it's funny and sweet, and a welcome escape.

How to watch: Ted Lasso is available to stream on Apple TV+

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More: A review of season 1.

13Men in Kilts

If you've already binge-watched every episode of Outlander and still want more of the Scottish landscape, consider tuning in to Men in Kilts, a new travel show hosted by Outlander's own Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish. The show follows the two actors as they take a roadtrip through their homeland, exploring Scotland's history, culture, and traditions.

How to Watch: Men in Kilts is available to stream on Starz.

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More: An Interview with Sam and Graham

14All Creatures Great and Small

Based on a much-loved book series by Alf Wight, the show follows James Herriot as he joins the fictionalized farming community of Darrowby Village and begins caring for its animals, and earning the respect of his eccentric, but ultimately kind-hearted employer, Siegfried Farnon. Come for the stunning landscapes and impeccable costuming, stay for a gentle story of slow-burning romances and sweet puppies and surprise birthday parties.

How to Watch:All Creatures Great and Small is available on Amazon Video.

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David Tennant isn't just famous for his role as the tenth Doctor. In Broadchurch, he co-stars as DI Alec Hardy alongside Olivia Colman's DS Ellie Miller. The show follows Hardy as he bickers with Miller while also trying to solve the case of an 11-year-old boy whose body washed up on the shore of a beach in a small Dorset community.

How to Watch:Broadchurch is available on Netflix.

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Sanditonis Jane Austen's final, unfinished novel, adapted for the small screen. Written just months before the author died in 1817, the story centers around Charlotte Heywood, her unexpected trip to a posh coastal resort town, and her relationship with a handsome young man named Sidney Parker. Austen only finished eleven chapters of the story, but her original text has been extended into an eight-part miniseries. But be aware: this show will leave you wanting more, and a season two is not guaranteed.

How to Watch: Sanditon is available to stream on Amazon Video.

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18Peaky Blinders

Set in 1919 Britain, this show centers around soldiers are returning home after World War I and gangs are fighting for dominance. One of the most prominent groups, the Peaky Blinders, is lead by war hero Thomas Shelby, who finds himself struggling to run a business while also leading a life of crime.

How to Watch:Peaky Blinders is available on Netflix.

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More: What we know about Peaky Blinders season 6.


Benedict Cumberbatch plays a modern take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic detective in Sherlock. Brilliant and eccentric, the show's titular character takes viewers on a journey in each movie-length episode as he fights off devious criminals, like his nemesis James Moriarty, with a little help from his trusty roommate and confidant John Watston (played by Martin Freeman).

How to Watch: Sherlock is available on Netflix.

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More: Everything We Know About Sherlock's Rumored 5th Season

20The Spanish Princess

The Spanish Princessstarring Charlotte Hope as Catherine of Aragon, adapts Gregory's The Constant Princess and The King’s Curseto tell the story of Catherine's life and marriage to King Henry VIII. For fans of royal families and period dramas, The Spanish Princess is must-watch television. (It even features Laura Carmichael, a fan favorite for her turn as Edith Crawley in Downton Abbey!)

How to Watch: The Spanish Princess is available to stream on Amazon Prime and Starz.

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21Black Mirror

Believe the hype on this one. Suspenseful and dramatic, this series is actually a collection of stand-alone episodes, often focused on techno-paranoia in a universe evocative of The Twilight Zone, and honestly, it's as good as you've heard.

How to Watch:Black Mirror is available on Netflix.

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22Doctor Who

A longtime favorite on British television, Doctor Who follows the travels of an extraterrestrial Time Lord. (It sounds strange, but it works, I promise.) In the show's most modern reincarnation, Doctor Who is a woman—played by Jodie Whittaker—for the first time.

How to Watch:Doctor Who is available on Amazon Video.

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Contrary to the scrappy-sounding title, Fleabag is a hilarious and heartbreaking comedy that highlights what it's like to be a single woman alone in a big city.

How to Watch:Fleabag is available on Amazon Video.

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24The IT Crowd

Emmy-nominated The IT Crowd is a cult favorite. Exploring the lives of three IT technicians with conflicting personalities, the show takes viewers along on the group's misadventures working together at the fictional Reynholm Industries.

How to Watch:The IT Crowd is available on Netflix.

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25My Mad Fat Diary

Set in the mid '90s, this show is a throwback in more ways than one. My Mad Fat Diary is funny and relatable, while also highlighting the reality of what it's like to struggle with mental health issues and eating disorders in adolescence. (And yes, that is a young Jodie Comer featured in the series.)

How to Watch:My Mad Fat Diary is available on Hulu.

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26Trust Me

This face may look familiar, but Jodie Whittaker plays a very different sort of medical professional in Trust Me. Forced to leave her job after whistle-blowing, she starts a new life in Edinburgh by assuming her best friend's identity as a doctor.

How to Watch:Trust Me is available on Hulu.

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27The Great British Bake Off

There is no feel-good reality show quite like The Great British Bake Off. Watch as amateur contestants crack jokes and will their pastries to bake to perfection. From Mel and Sue's cheeky humor to Mary Berry's delight at the mention of rum, this competition feels less cutthroat and more comforting than anything else.

How to Watch:The Great British Baking Show, as it is known in the States, is available on Netflix. (Though it should be noted that later seasons have new hosts and judges.)

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28The A Word

Based on the Israeli series Yellow Peppers, The A Word is an emotionally honest and hopeful show that follows the Hughes family, whose world is completely changed when 5-year-old Joe is diagnosed with autism. As the family struggles to understand one other, they must pull together and work on their communication skills to help Joe.

How to Watch:The A Word is available on Amazon Video.

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When a lightning storm hits at a juvenile detention center, five young offenders with vastly different personalities develop superpowers that bring them together as they reckon with their newfound abilities.

How to Watch:Misfits is available on Hulu.

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30The Hour

A spy-thriller series that keeps you on the edge of your seat, The Hour follows the lives of a 1950s television journalist, a producer, and a news anchor as the three become involved in a passionate love triangle—all in the midst of a mysterious murder investigation.

How to Watch:The Hour is available on Amazon Video.

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Caroline HallemannDigital News DirectorAs the digital news director for Town & Country, Caroline Hallemann covers everything from the British royal family to the latest episodes of Outlander, Killing Eve, and The Crown.

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