30 new British period drama movies you need to go see in 2022

2022 is looking like another exciting year for British period drama fans.

Here, in alphabetical order, are all the new British historical and period drama movies you need to see this year!

Take a look at our big previews of this year’s new British period drama TV mini-series and returning British period drama TV series too.

For all the latest updates on British period dramas, don’t forget you can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our YouTube channel, or sign up for our newsletter!

 

Against the Ice

 

What is about?

Based on Danish novel Two Against the Ice by Ejnar Mikkelsen, this true survival story of friendship, love and the awe-inspiring power of companionship is set in Greenland in the 1909.

Against the Ice stars Heida Reed (Poldark), Charles Dance (The Crown), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones), and Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders).

Battling extreme hunger, fatigue and a polar bear attack, Denmark’s Alabama Expedition find their ship crushed in the ice and the camp abandoned. Hoping to be rescued, they must fight to stay alive.

What did the reviews say?

Game of Thrones star shows his range in this arctic adventure … this intense two-hander with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Joe Cole has defied the frostbitten clichés and is packing some hard-won emotional oomph.” ★★★★ – The Times

“Simple but sturdy Netflix survival drama.” ★★★ – The Guardian

Ejnar Mikkelsen’s novel Two Against the Ice is available on Amazon.

 

The Banshees of Inisherin

 

Set on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland in the early 1920s, The Banshees of Inisherin follows lifelong friends Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson), who find themselves at an impasse when Colm unexpectedly puts an end to their friendship.

A stunned Pádraic, aided by his sister Siobhán (Kerry Condon) and troubled young islander Dominic (Barry Keoghan), endeavours to repair the relationship, refusing to take no for an answer.

What did the reviews say?

“Martin McDonagh’s Beckettian drama is simply perfect … this is a visually stunning and consistently witty film, which is unafraid to ask serious questions about life.” ★★★★★ – The Times

“Another great feel-bad treat from Martin McDonagh, featuring one of Colin Farrell’s best performances yet as a guy trying (and failing) to deal with the fallout of a falling out.” ★★★★ – Empire

 

Benediction

 

What’s it about?

Written and directed by Terence Davies (A Quiet PassionSunset Song), Benediction explores the life of First World War poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon.

The biopic stars Jack Lowden (War & PeaceThe Long Song) and Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who) as the younger and older version of Sassoon, alongside Jeremy Irvine (War Horse), Calam Lynch (Mrs Wilson), Simon Russell Beale (Mary Queen of Scots), and Kate Phillips (Wolf Hall).

What did the reviews say?

Benediction finds both sorrow and hilariously withering wit in the eventful life of a famed wartime poet, offering some of the sharpest, nimblest dialogue of writer-director Terence Davies’ estimable career.” ★★★★ – Empire

“Inspired by the life of Siegfried Sassoon, Terence Davies’s evocative drama is no cradle-to-grave biopic … It’s beautiful, but only in the way it tends to its tragedies with such care.” ★★★★ – The Independent

 

Burial

 

What’s it about?

Set in the last days of World War II, this is the fictional story of a small band of Russian soldiers, led by intelligence officer Brana Vasilyeva (Charlotte Vega), tasked with trafficking the remains of Hitler back to Stalin in Russia.

En route, the unit is attacked by German ‘Werwolf’ partisans and picked off one-by-one. Brana leads her surviving comrades in a last stand to ensure their ‘cargo’ doesn’t fall into the hands of those who would see it buried, in order to hide the truth forever.

Burial also stars Tom Felton (Harry Potter), Bill Milner (Dunkirk), and Harriet Walter (Downton Abbey).

When’s it out?

Burial will be released on digital on 26th September.

 

Catherine, Called Birdy

 

What’s it about?

Based on Karen Cushman’s 1994 novel for children, Lena Dunham’s coming-of-age comedy Catherine, Called Birdy follows the adventures of a teenage girl in Medieval England as she navigates through life and tries to avoid the arranged marriages her father maps out for her.

Amazon Prime’s movie stars Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones), Andrew Scott (Sherlock), Paul Kaye (After Life), and Billie Piper (Doctor Who).

When’s it out?

Catherine, Called Birdy will be released in cinemas on 23rd September, then on Amazon Prime Video on 7th October.

Karen Cushman’s book Catherine Called Birdy is available on Amazon.

 

Death on the Nile

 

What’s it about?

Kenneth Branagh returns as Hercule Poirot in the sequel to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express.

Based on Agatha Christie’s classic murder mystery novel, Death on the Nile sees Poirot investigate a murder while on a luxury cruise on the Nile River in Egypt.

The all-star cast includes Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Rose Leslie (Downton Abbey), Letitia Wright (Black Panther), Annette Bening (American Beauty), Ali Fazal (Victoria & Abdul), Sophie Okonedo (Christopher Robin), Tom Bateman (Vanity Fair), Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous), Dawn French (The Vicar of Dibley), and comedian Russell Brand.

What did the reviews say?

“[Death on the Nile] feels far more personal than Orient Express, with much higher stakes.” ★★★ – Empire

“Branagh’s spirited performance as Poirot and a big-name ensemble cast can’t keep this stale and two-dimensional whodunnit afloat.” ★★ – The Guardian

Agatha Christie’s novel Death on the Nile is available on Amazon.

 

Downton Abbey: A New Era

 

What’s it about?

Following the huge success of the first movie in 2019, the whole Downton Abbey cast have reunited for a sequel.

They’re joined by Dominic West (The Crown), Hugh Dancy (Hannibal), and Laura Haddock (The Musketeers).

Set in 1928, A New Era sees our beloved characters embark on a lavish trip to the South of France where they must uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess’ newly inherited villa.

What did the reviews say?

“The new Downton Abbey movie is very much the escape we all desperately need right now, a world you and your mum will enjoy spending time in.”- Mamamia

“Plenty of surprises and an iconic moment to savour … The luxury soap opera’s second feature-length spin-off ticks all the right boxes.” – The Telegraph

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

 

The Duke

What’s it about?

Helen Mirren (The Queen), Jim Broadbent (Bridget Jones), and Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey) star in this uplifting tale from the director of Notting Hill.

In 1961, Kempton Bunton, a 60-year old taxi driver, stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London. It was the first (and remains the only) theft in the Gallery’s history. Kempton sent ransom notes saying that he would return the painting on condition that the government invested more in care for the elderly. What happened next became the stuff of legend.

What did the reviews say?

“The kind of heist movie that will steal your affections from under your nose. An Ealing-esque comedy with its heart exactly in the right place, it proves a fitting farewell for the multitalented director, Roger Michell.” ★★★★ – Empire

“Jim Broadbent is priceless in this canny, tender British comedy … expert handling on all sides makes this stranger than fiction story work.” ★★★★ – Evening Standard

 

Emily

 

What’s it about?

Mansfield Park actress Frances O’Connor makes her directorial debut with this period drama film about the brief life of famed English writer Emily Brontë, played by Emma Mackey (Death on the Nile).

Best known for her only novel, Wuthering Heights, Brontë died in 1848 at the age of just 30.

The cast also includes Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Haunting of Hill House), Alexandra Dowling (The Musketeers), Gemma Jones (Gentleman Jack), Adrian Dunbar (Line of Duty), and Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk) as Emily’s brother, Branwell Brontë.

What did the reviews say?

“With Emily, Frances O’Connor has crafted a first film that feels like the work of an accomplished master.” – The Playlist

“Emma Mackey is luminous in Frances O’Connor’s distinguished biography of the Wuthering Heights writer.” – Screen Daily

 

Empire of Light

 

What’s it about?

Olivia Colman (The Crown) and Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) star in this love story set in the 1980s from James Bond director Sam Mendes.

They’ll be joined by Toby Jones (Detectorists), Crystal Clarke (The Electrical Life of Louis Wain), Tanya Moodie (A Discovery of Witches), and Micheal Ward (Small Axe).

Empire of Light is set in and around a beautiful old cinema on the south coast of England.

When’s it out?

Empire of Light is set for release on 9th December 2022.

 

Enola Holmes 2

 

What’s it about?

Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown returns as the titular young detective in a second Enola Holmes movie, based on Nancy Springer’s book series about the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes.

Enola’s newest adventure begins after a young girl working in a match factory hires her to locate her missing sister. Before long, Enola finds herself drawn into a high-stakes chase across London, journeying from the city’s seedy industrial underbelly to the glitzy galas of high society.

Original cast members Henry Cavill, Louis Partridge, and Helena Bonham Carter are all back again as Enola’s older brother Sherlock Holmes, Tewkesbury, Eudoria Holmes respectively.

When’s it out?

Enola Holmes 2 will premiere exclusively on Netflix on Friday 4th November.

Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes novels are available on Amazon.

 

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

 

What’s it about?

Casino Royale actor Mads Mikkelsen joins the Harry Potter prequel franchise’s third outing, The Secrets of Dumbledore, taking over the role of Grindelwald, alongside Jude Law as the young Albus Dumbledore and Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander.

Professor Albus Dumbledore knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. With the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?

What did the reviews say?

The Secrets of Dumbledore falls into many of the same pitfalls as its successors … And throughout it all, you can sense the desperation to recapture the magic of the much better movies Fantastic Beasts originated from.” – Mashable

The Secrets Of Dumbledore doesn’t quite cast a Potter-like spell — but with solid action and moments of genuine heart, it delivers a little light in the Wizarding World’s darkest hour.” ★★★ – Empire

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is available on DVD on Amazon.

 

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

 

What’s it about?

The Crown actress Emma Corrin stars as Lady Chatterley in this new adaptation of D. H. Lawrence’s classic 1928 novel about an unhappily-married wealthy lady who engages in a torrid affair with a gamekeeper on their English estate.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover has been adapted by French director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (The Mustang) from a script by Life of Pi screenwriter David Magee.

When’s it out?

Lady Chatterley’s Lover will be released in 2022.

D.H. Lawrence’s novel is available on Amazon.

 

Living

 

What’s it about?

Set in 1950s London, Living tells is the story of an ordinary man, reduced by years of oppressive office routine to a shadow existence, who at the eleventh hour makes a supreme effort to turn his dull life into something wonderful.

The moving drama stars Bill Nighy (Love Actually), Aimee Lou Wood (Sex Education), and Tom Burke (The Musketeers).

When’s it out?

Living will be released in cinemas on 23rd December.

 

The Lost King

 

What’s it about?

The Lost King tells the remarkable true story of how one ‘ordinary’ woman overcame every obstacle to track down the final resting place of King Richard III – the last English king to die in battle – and give him an honourable burial.

Leading the cast is Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water, Paddington) as Philippa Langley, alongside Steve Coogan (Stan & Ollie) as her husband, and Harry Lloyd (The Theory of Everything) as Richard III.

What did the reviews say?

“Sally Hawkins is Oscar-worthy in crowd-pleasing Ricardian tale.” ★★★★ – Evening Standard

“Sally Hawkins, who has given so many extraordinary performances and, in this movie, may just give her greatest one yet.” – Variety

 

Medieval

What’s it about?

Historical action-drama Medieval tells the story of 14th century Czech national hero and revered military tactician Jan Zizka, who defeated armies of the Teutonic Order and the Holy Roman Empire.

Joining Ben Foster as Zizka are Sir Michael Caine and Narnia star William Moseley.

When’s it out?

Medieval will be released in September.

 

Mr Malcolm’s List

 

What’s it about?

Based on the novel by Suzanne Allain, Mr Malcolm’s List follows a young woman in 1800s England enlists the help of her friend to get revenge on a suitor who rejected her for failing a requirement of his list.

The romantic period drama movie stars Theo James (Sanditon), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Sope Dirisu (The Halcyon), Zawe Ashton (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Haunting of Bly Manor).

What did the reviews say?

Mr. Malcolm’s List has a scrumptious light charm … this is the kind of movie that rises or falls on whether the actors can carry the duplicity — and the innocence — aloft. And the actors here are marvelous: tart, stylish, emotionally vibrant, never more knowing than when they’re being duped.” – Variety

Mr. Malcolm’s List is a witty tale of 19th-century London’s competitive marriage market. If the previous sentence conjures images of Netflix’s Bridgerton, that’s to be expected.” – The Hollywood Reporter

Suzanne Allain’s novel Mr Malcolm’s List is available on Amazon.

 

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris

 

What’s it about?

Based on the novel by Paul Gallico, Mrs Harris Goes to Paris follows a widowed cleaning lady in 1950s London who becomes obsessed with a couture Dior dress and decides to go on an adventure to Paris.

World on Fire star Lesley Manville leads the cast, alongside Jason Isaacs, Lambert Wilson, Alba Baptista, Lucas Bravo, Rose Williams, and French actress Isabelle Huppert.

What did the reviews say?

“Manville is utterly convincing as a wide-eyed chirpy cleaner who comes into money and sets her heart on a Dior dress in this 1950s-set charmer.” ★★★★ – The Guardian

“It may sound dismissive to call a film ‘nice’, but that’s exactly what this is. It’s beautifully produced, entirely uncynical niceness. If you’re after just a lovely time, come on in and put your feet up.” ★★★★ – Empire

Paul Gallico’s novel Mrs ‘Arris Goes to Paris is available on Amazon.

 

Munich: The Edge of War

 

What’s it about?

Set in the autumn of 1938 as Europe stands on the brink of the Second World War, Munich: The Edge of War is based on Robert Harris’s bestselling 2017 novel.

Jeremy Irons leads the cast of Netflix’s historical thriller as British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, alongside George McKay (1917), Robert Bathurst (Downton Abbey), and Erin Doherty (The Crown).

What did the reviews say?

“An enjoyable World War II spy flick, Munich: The Edge Of War scores with strong performances and filmmaking craft, but is let down by a lack of dramatic heft. A Father’s Day watch in waiting.” ★★★ – Empire

“An elegant what-if twist on wartime history … Jeremy Irons is on top form as Neville Chamberlain in a Robert Harris adaptation that melds fact with enjoyable fiction.” ★★★ – The Guardian

Robert Harris’s book is available on Amazon.

 

My Name is Leon

What’s it about?

Based on Kit de Waal’s novel, the BBC’s one-off TV movie set in 1980s Britain stars Malachi Kirby (Small Axe), Monica Dolan (A Very English Scandal), Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense), Christopher Eccleston (The A Word), and Sir Lenny Henry (Doctor Who).

My Name is Leon tells the uplifting and incredibly moving story of nine year old Leon, a mixed-race boy whose desire is to keep his family together, as his single-parent mother suffers a devastating breakdown.

What did the reviews say?

“Touching, compassionate and sweet, it is a more than worthy addition to the thankfully growing canon of television exploring the black British experience.” ★★★★ – iNews

“Kit de Waal’s award-winning novel about a boy in foster care becomes a wise, touching and magical drama packed with stellar talent.” ★★★★★ – The Guardian

Kit de Waal’s novel is available on Amazon.

 

My Policeman

 

What’s it about?

Emma Corrin (The Crown) stars alongside One Direction singer Harry Styles in this romantic movie set in 1950s Brighton, based on Bethan Roberts’ novel My Policeman.

Inspired by the life of E.M. Forster and his relationship with his long-time companion Bob Buckingham and his wife, Roberts’ 2014 book has been adapted by Oscar-nominated writer Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia).

What did the reviews say?

“A poignant story with some weak performances.” ★★★ – Radio Times

“Well-meaning but unfortunately misjudged, this clichéd melodrama is a minor stumble for Harry Styles’ continuing conquest of cinema.” ★★ – Empire

Bethan Roberts’ novel My Policeman is available on Amazon.

 

Operation Mincemeat

 

What’s it about?

Set in 1943, this World War II movie from the makers of The King’s Speech stars Colin Firth (Pride & Prejudice), Matthew Macfadyen (Ripper Street) and Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey).

The story follows two brilliant intelligence officers who conceived a plan to trick the Nazis that was dubbed Operation Mincemeat.

What did the reviews say?

“Matthew Macfadyen steals the show in a pacey war thriller.” ★★★★ – The Times

“A classic tale of British second world war derring-do and the sort of film you’ll watch with your dad on a Sunday afternoon.” – The Spectator

Ben McIntyre’s book Operation Mincemeat is available on Amazon.

 

Persuasion

 

What’s it about?

One of two new versions of Persuasion this year, Netflix’s film aims to be “a modern, witty approach to a beloved story while still remaining true to Jane Austen’s classic novel.”

Dakota Johnson (The Lost Daughter) leads the cast as Anne Elliot, while Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding plays Mr Elliot.

What did the reviews say?

“At no point during Carrie Cracknell’s directorial debut do you ever get the sense that anyone’s actually read Persuasion … That’s what’s so grim about Netflix’s Persuasion – it seems to think its own audience isn’t smart enough for Jane Austen.” ★ – The Independent

“A travesty of Jane Austen … theatre director Carrie Cracknell’s ham-fisted adaptation misses the nuances of the author’s writing and opts instead for romcom sassiness.” ★ – The Guardian

Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion is available on Amazon.

 

The Phantom of the Open

What’s it about?

The Phantom of the Open tells the remarkable true story of Maurice Flitcroft, a crane operator who, with the support of his family and friends, managed to gain entry to the 1976 British Open qualifying, despite never playing a round of golf before!

From the writer of Paddington 2, the uplifting comedy-drama stars Mark Rylance (The BFG), Sally Hawkins (Paddington), Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill).

What did the reviews say?

“This underdog golf biopic sometimes swings and whiffs with its hyper-quirky styling, but a bright script and game performances see it through.” – Variety

“Rylance’s Maurice is truly adorable. When he’s in the frame, everyone’s a winner … The actor makes the World’s Worst Golfer into a loveable legend all over again.” ★★★★ – Evening Standard

Simon Farnaby’s book The Phantom of the Open is available on Amazon.

 

Prizefighter

 

What’s it about?

Set in Bristol, England in 1800 and based on a true story, Prizefighter explores the life of Jem Belcher, who became the youngest ever world champion, became blind at 22, and was dead by the age of 30.

Matt Hookings (Winter Ridge) plays Belcher, alongside Ray Winstone (Indiana Jones), Marton Csokas (Lord of the Rings), Jodhi May (The Last of the Mohicans), and Julian Glover (Game of Thrones).

What did the reviews say?

“Regency-era bare-knuckle fighter Jim Belcher gets the Rocky treatment in an underpowered biopic that fails to land a killer blow.” ★★★ – The Express

“For the most part, Prizefighter has been well worth the long wait … it is well paced and covers the major beats of Belcher’s career with heart and a fair amount of style.” – Boxing Social

 

The Railway Children Return

 

What’s it about?

Jenny Agutter reprises her her role as Bobbie from 1970’s classic The Railway Children movie in this enchanting and heart-warming adventure for a new generation.

The Railway Children Return is set in 1944, with a new group of children being evacuated to a Yorkshire village during the Second World War.

What did the reviews say?

“[A] charmingly old-fashioned yarn … Long overdue The Railway Children follow-up is a patriotic British heart-warmer.” ★★★ – The Mirror

“Matthews is a terrific director of children and if this picture never quite recaptures the charm and innocence of the five-star original, it succeeds in evoking its spirit.” ★★★★ – Daily Mail

The original The Railway Children movie is available on DVD on Amazon.

 

The Road Dance

What’s it about?

Based on the acclaimed novel by John MacKay, The Road Dance is set in the Scottish Hebrides in the build up to the First World War.

For the beautiful Kirsty, her love for Murdo and their shared dreams of America promise escape from the scrape of the land and a stifled destiny. But the Great War changes all when Murdo is conscripted. The night before the young men go off to battle, tragedy is set in motion as villagers swirl and sup at a “road dance.”

What did the reviews say?

“A sweeping Hebridean weepie … it’s a heartfelt, nostalgic film with traditional, almost old-fashioned, storytelling, and acting that feels a bit stiff in places.” ★★★ – The Guardian

The Road Dance is a gripping and captivating tale …
This is an effective, immersive and brilliantly-crafted tale of tragedy and resilience.” – Cultured Vultures

John MacKay’s novel is available on Amazon.

 

Save the Cinema

What’s is about?

Set in a small Welsh town in the 1990s, Save the Cinema is a feel-good story based on the efforts of one woman bringing together a community to save the local cinema.

Samantha Morton (Harlots) leads the cast, alongside Tom Felton (Harry Potter), Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes), Adeel Akhtar (Les Miserables), and Susan Wokoma (Enola Holmes).

What did the reviews say?

“The end result is the sort of film people always say ‘they just don’t make any more’, a modestly funny, gently uplifting tale of a community coming together to do a good thing.” ★★★ – Daily Mail

“Suitable for a family audience – and how many live action films of late can you say that about – and with real rewatch value to it too, Save the Cinema captures the feel of films that the UK industry got really good at in the later 1990s, and sort of fell out of love with. It’s not just a love letter to the big screen, but to the tone of those feel good comedies as well.” ★★★★ – Film Stories

 

See How They Run

 

What’s it about?

Sam Rockwell (Moon), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom), Ruth Wilson (Mrs Wilson), and Adrien Brody (King Kong) lead the cast of this murder murder movie set in London’s West End in the 1950s.

See How They Run sees plans for a movie version of a smash-hit play come to an abrupt halt after a pivotal member of the crew is murdered. When world-weary Inspector Stoppard (Rockwell) and eager rookie Constable Stalker (Ronan) take on the case, the two find themselves thrown into a puzzling whodunit.

What did the reviews say?

“This likable whodunnit comedy sees Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan on the trail of high-camp crime in the original production of The Mousetrap.” ★★★★ – The Guardian

“It’s so much more than a British Knives Out … Each actor is perfectly cast, and each role is skilfully executed, exuding all the fussy glamour of the 1950s and striking a delicate balance between slapstick humour and British-reservedness.” ★★★★★ – Digital Spy

 

The Wonder

 

What’s it about?

Set in 1862 and based on Emma Donoghue’s 2016 novel, this Irish period drama movie stars Florence Pugh (Little Women), Tom Burke (The Musketeers), Niamh Algar (Deceit), Toby Jones (Dad’s Army), and Ciarán Hinds (The Woman in Black).

The Wonder follows a young girl who stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. English nurse Lib Wright is brought to a tiny village to investigate, as tourists and pilgrims flock to witness the girl who is said to have survived without food for months. Is the village harbouring a saint ‘surviving on manna from heaven’ or are there more ominous motives at work?

What did the reviews say?

“Florence Pugh is miraculously good in eerie drama.” ★★★★ – The Guardian

“This clever period thriller could win Florence Pugh an Oscar.” ★★★★ – Metro

Emma Donoghue’s novel The Wonder is available on Amazon.

 

Take a look back at our list of 2021’s best British period drama movies here!