Must-Watch British Period Drama TV Shows Featuring Strong Female Leads

There is no shortage of elegant women in British period dramas who captivate audiences with their elegant costumes and gossip-worthy dialogue.

However, some period dramas show true dedication and commitment to telling the stories of strong women who have defied the societal norms of their time and navigated complex relationships and challenges. Allow these women to inspire you in life, be your lucky lady charm in the casino, or simply be a refreshing change from historical dramas that fail to show multifaceted female characters. Read on for the best British period dramas with strong female leads that ought to be on your bucket list.


The Crown

The Crown is an internationally acclaimed British period drama that captures everyone’s fascination with historical narratives and the British monarchy by uncovering the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The series explores the intricate interplay of personal and political trials that the British Queen faces during her early assumption of the throne and shows what it means to be a woman in a position of immense geopolitical power.

Claire Foy and Olivia Colman deliver stellar portrayals of Queen Elizabeth II, conveying the Queen’s unwavering fortitude, grit and resilience within the confines of a predominantly male and patriarchal environment. The show is popular because of how it skillfully depicts the monarch’s journey and is able to use personal struggles to resonate with audiences.


Downton Abbey

A British period drama cherished by locals and international audiences, Downton Abbey has practically become a part of British history itself. The period drama tells the story of the affable aristocratic Crawley family and their servant against the historical backdrop of the early 20th century.

This TV show artfully spotlights a large cast of female characters, each possessing distinct attributes, multifaceted personalities and their own aspirations. Lady Mary Crawley, who has a resolute demeanour, and Lady Sybil Crawley, who radiates compassion, are just a few of the strong female characters on this show who defy societal norms and etch their influence on the rapidly evolving society of their time.

Downton Abby has a captivating narrative and succeeds in portraying the essence of women’s struggles, victories and the paradigm shifts they trigger. As the plotline and dialogues unfold, the TV series not only entertains but also leaves viewers with a poignant social commentary on the lives of women who must navigate through a time of profound change.



“Sanditon” is adapted from an incomplete novel by Jane Austen, one of Britain’s most famous classical novelists and an early female author. Sanditon unfolds the story of Charlotte Heywood, a young woman who relocates her life to the quaint seaside town of Sanditon. Charlotte’s character becomes wrapped up in a world of romance, aspirations and enigma.

Rose Williams proves herself as a talented actress when playing the character of Charlotte. Imbuing Charlotte’s character with an authentic blend of naivety and resolve, Rose Williams turns Charlotte into a charismatic and easily relatable focal point in the series.

This adaptation series breathes a new life into Austen’s unfinished novel, taking viewers on a journey through societal intricacies, historical etiquette and personal yearnings. Sanditon is an engrossing exploration of human emotion, authenticity and ambition through its portrayal of Charlotte. In addition, it harnesses Austen’s storytelling prowess and her ability to highlight experiences of love, growth and suspense.



Bramwell is a hidden gem amongst British period dramas, especially if you’re looking for a strong female lead. The plotlines and inspirational value of Bramwell truly warrant greater acknowledgment. The TV series takes place in the late 19th series and chronicles the career of Dr. Eleanow Bramwell, one of the first female physicians in Victorian England. Dr. Bramwell fiercely defies gender stereotypes of the time in order to embrace her medical calling.

Dr. Bramwell herself is acted by Jemma Redgrave. Redgrave portrays a resolute and empathetic character, two characteristics that are integral to Dr. Bramwell’s success in her field.

The TV series is a true testament to determination and resilience, skillfully fusing historical context with the spirited pursuit of one woman’s professional goals against the odds of her time.


Queen Charlotte

Queen Charlotte is a spinoff from the popular Netflix series Bridgerton. Both shows are loosely inspired by the historical context of regency-era London and its aristocratic class, yet they infuse an imaginative touch. The character of Queen Charlotte is embodied by Golda Rosheuvel and India Amarteifio, who, respectively, are the older and younger Queen Charlotte.

The TV series details the life of a fiery, headstrong, yet likable personality, grappling with her personal struggles of entering the British monarchy and having to become a pillar of strength within her own household. Queen Charlotte’s endeavours even include safeguarding her husband, King George, from his own struggles. In this portrayal, Queen Charlotte is a disruptor of societal norms, prompting us to examine power dynamics within institutions and households. Queen Charlotte enthralls audiences through its fusion of historical influence and a whimsical flair, offering a fresh perspective on the era.



Poldark, set in 18th-century Cornwall, is a gripping British historical series. The plot centers around Ross Poldark, a soldier who recently returned home to Cornwall following the American Revolutionary War. While the most prominent character in the show is a male lead, Ross Poldark’s wife, Demelza Poldark, is a close second. Demelza is a strong-willed and resilient woman who courageously defends her convictions in a time period where men generally have the upper hand. The show explores Ross Poldark’s complicated relationships with the women in his, including his wife, Demelza, and his sister, Verity Poldark.

Actress Eleanor Tomlinson delivers an incredible performance as Demelza, showing her as a fiercely independent woman who fearlessly stands up for herself despite being born in a lower-ranking class.

In conclusion, these British period drama TV shows display an enchanting blend of history, ambition, authenticity, romance and strong female leads. They are sure to not only keep you entertained but also inspire and fan the flame of your own ambitions. In fact, the presence of strong female leads in media and film is proven to have a positive effect on breaking gender role stereotypes and opening doors for women. So grab a cup of English tea, get comfortable, and become immersed in the world of these remarkable women.