8 of the best British period dramas set in the 1970s

We continue our look back at the best British period dramas set in each decade of the 20th Century.

Here our guest writer Elizabeth Niedbala, creator of the blog Land of 1,000 Movies, has some recommendations of movies and TV series set in the 1970s!


Misbehaviour (1970)

Based on real events, this heartwarming movie from 2020 dramatises the story of feminist activists who invaded the Miss World pageant in London in 1970.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle) plays Jennifer Hosten, the first black contestant to represent Grenada. As she seeks to claim more representation for black women, Sally Alexander (Keira Knightley) and Jo Robinson (Jessie Buckley) plan to disrupt the pageant in order to kickstart the Women’s Liberation Movement. Overseeing the pageant is Bob Hope (Greg Kinnear), who must come to terms with the changing times.

Look out for Lesley Manville (World on Fire), Keeley Hawes (The Durrells), Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill) and Phyllis Logan (Downton Abbey) too!

Misbehaviour is available to watch on Amazon Prime.


Inspector George Gently – Season 8 (1970)

Bringing the BBC’s crime drama series to an end, the eighth season is set in 1970.

Facing retirement and discovering that the force has been using him on a case, Gently decides to take one last stand against corruption in the Met.

The final season brings closure to Season 1’s story line about the death of his wife, with a controversial ending for Martin Shaw’s beloved character.

Inspector George Gently is available on DVD on Amazon.


Endeavour – Seasons 7-8 (1970-1971)

ITV’s Inspector Morse prequel series entered a fresh decade with its seventh season.

Season 7’s three episodes are connected with an overarching plot involving a serial killer, a towpath, and Morse’s friend Ludo. Also touched upon are escalating racial tensions leading up to the 1970 General Election.

The eighth season then gets off to an explosive start as Endeavour investigates a college bomb with possible links to recent IRA threats.

Endeavour is available to watch on Amazon Prime.


Rocketman (1970-1979)

Taron Egerton (Kingsman) stars in this 2019 musical biopic about singer Elton John.

Starting out as a piano man for American blues singers, John becomes the most successful artist of the 1970s. Along the way, he suffers from physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his manager, John Reid (Bodyguard star Richard Madden), and becomes addicted to pretty much everything.

The songs are inserted like a tradition jukebox musical; ‘Rocketman’ is used to illustrate his suicide attempt, while ‘Yellow Brick Road’ accompanies Elton to rehab. A unique movie with some trippy results, it’s surprisingly uplifting considering the troubled time in the singer’s life that it deals with.

Rocketman is available on DVD on Amazon.


Bohemian Rhapsody (1970-1975)

A more traditional biopic about Freddie Mercury, this 2018 movie won Best Actor for Rami Malek at the Oscars.

While the film covers everything through to the Live Aid Concert in 1984, the first half takes place in the 1970s. We get to see how Farrokh Bulsara becomes Mercury, how the band Smile becomes Queen, and how a little song called ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ got made.

Also starring Gwilym Lee (Midsomer Murders), Ben Hardy (The Woman in White), and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey), Bohemian Rhapsody took home a total of four Academy Awards.

Bohemian Rhapsody is available on DVD on Amazon.


The Crown – Seasons 3-4 (1972-1979)

Writer Peter Morgan packs almost a decade’s worth of events into the last few episodes of the third season of Netflix’s The Crown.

The Duke of Windsor dies, Charles starts dating this gal called Camellia, and Margaret cheats on Lord Snowden, who’s cheating on her. The Queen’s Silver Jubilee is discussed, but Princess Anne is given the short end of the stick; her marriage and attempted kidnapping are never mentioned.

Season 4 then opens in 1979, at the start of Margaret Thatcher’s 11-year run as prime minister.

The Crown is available on DVD on Amazon.


A Very English Scandal (1976-1979)

The BBC’s award-winning three-part mini-series dramatises the Jeremy Thorpe scandal and the events that led up to it.

Hugh Grant plays Jeremy Thorpe, the Leader for the Liberal Party, while Ben Winshaw (The Hour) plays Norman Jasiffe, the man Thorpe had a relationship with in the 1960s.  As Norman tries to speak out about the relationship and as Thorpe tries to keep him silent, it blows up in their faces in an increasingly farcical and shocking ways that would seem far-fetched if it wasn’t all true!

Like The Trial of Christine Keeler, it exposes the dark side to politics as well as a changing society.

A Very English Scandal is available to watch on Amazon Prime.


The Little Drummer Girl (1979)

Based on the book by John Le Carré, this tense BBC mini-series from 2018 comes from the makers of The Night Manager.

An actress named Charlie (Florence Pugh) is recruited to infiltrate a Palestinian terrorist group. Her handler, Gadi Becker (Alexander Skarsgård) and the lead operative Martin Kurtz (Michael Shannon) train and prepare her as best they can, though none are prepared for the romantic repercussions when Charlie falls for the group’s leader, Khalil (Charif Ghattas).

The Little Drummer Girl is available to watch on Amazon Prime.