We continue our look back at the best British period dramas set in each decade of the 20th Century.
The Crown – Seasons 2-3 (1960-1969)
To kick things off, view the Swinging Sixties from a position of power. Netflix’s The Crown covers the entire decade, switching casts halfway through.
The latter half of Season 2, starring Claire Foy as the Queen, focuses mostly on family drama – Margaret’s marriage to Antony Armstrong Jones, Charles’ time at boarding school, and Elizabeth and Philip’s marriage.
The first half of Season 3, introducing Olivia Colman as Elizabeth, is more externally focuses, as plot lines are driven by changing politics, workplace disasters, the rise of a new generation, and a moon landing.
For those who want an overview of the 1960s, start here.
The Crown is available on DVD on Amazon.
The Ipcress File (1963)
ITV’s six-part mini-series from 2022 stars Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders) as British ex-soldier Harry Palmer, the character made famous by Michael Caine, alongside Lucy Boynton (Bohemian Rhapsody) and Tom Hollander (The Night Manager).
Sentenced to eight years in a military prison, Palmer takes British Intelligence up on its offer to join an unorthodox spy unit in order to dodge jail. There he’s roped into retrieving a kidnapped British nuclear scientist, ending up caught in a violent political conspiracy.
Call the Midwife – Seasons 4-10 (1960-1967)
Always popular, the BBC’s Sunday evening favourite Call the Midwife has now settled into the 1960s, following its first few seasons in the late 1950s.
The Pill and thalidomide have direct consequences on what the nuns and nurses do, while the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Big Freeze of 1963 have more indirect results. As always, the series deals with these crises deftly and with real heart, treating them with the seriousness they deserve.
Call the Midwife is available on DVD on Amazon.
The Eichmann Show (1961)
A made-for-TV-movie produced by the BBC in 2015, this stars Anthony Lapaglia and Martin Freeman as an American TV producer and a blacklisted TV director.
Together, they manage to broadcast the trial of Adolf Eichmann live around the world. They wanted to remind the world, two decades on, of what the Holocaust was and why it should not be repeated today. A lesson we could all use a refresher on.
The Eichmann Show is available on DVD on Amazon.
Ginger & Rosa (1962)
This 2012 movie examines how two friends cope with the changing world and changes within themselves.
Strait-laced Ginger and wild Rosa have been friends literally since birth, but as their priorities change, they question if their friendship can continue. Ginger’s storyline touches on early Sixties culture especially; she becomes involved in the anti-nuclear movement, and she fights with her mom over her future.
A coming-of-age story not to be missed, its cast includes starring Elle Fanning, Timothy Spall, Christina Hendricks, and Annette Benning.
Ginger & Rosa is available on DVD on Amazon.
The Trial of Christine Keeler (1963)
The BBC’s 2019 mini-series dramatises the real-life Profumo affair scandal in 1963.
Had this been made even a decade ago, the men would have held the narrating lens. Today, Keeler herself is the focus of story, telling her side of how it all went down.
A traditional but timely story with a feminist bent, The Trial of Christine Keeler stars Sophie Cookson, James Norton, Ellie Bamber, and Ben Miles.
The Trial of Christine Keeler is available on DVD on Amazon.
The Indian Doctor (1963-1966)
An Indian doctor (played by Sanjeev Bhaskkar) arrives in the small Welsh mining village of Trefelin to replace his recently deceased predecessor in this BBC drama which aired from 2010-2013.
As Dr. Prem Shar tries to win their trust, he finds himself fighting for the rights of the local miners, attempting to control a smallpox outbreak, and deal with the tide of a changing generation.
The Indian Doctor is available on watch on Amazon Prime.
Mrs Wilson (1963-1967)
Ruth Wilson (His Dark Materials) stars as her own grandmother in this strange-but-true BBC mini-series from 2019.
When Alison Wilson’s husband dies, she discovers that the ex-MI6 officer had multiple wives and families, and didn’t even work for MI6. A twisty story about how we never truly know the people we love, its cast also boasted Iain Glen, Fiona Shaw, and Keeley Hawes.
Mrs Wilson is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Inspector George Gently – Seasons 1-7 (1964-1969)
The BBC’s Inspector George Gently ran from 2007 to 2017 and follows Martin Shaw as the titular inspector, alongside Lee Ingleby as Detective Sergeant John Bacchus.
The crime drama series uses its plots to explore the upheaval during this decade; the death penalty, race relations, and counter-culture are all examined through the eyes of the law.
Inspector George Gently is available on DVD on Amazon.
Endeavour – Seasons 1-6 (1965-1969)
ITV’s prequel to Inspector Morse began in 2012 and follows the young Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) as a detective constable.
Under the thumb of Detective Inspector Fred Thursday (Roger Allan), they investigate crimes in and around Oxford. As opposed to Inspector George Gently, Endeavour focuses on character-driven plots and leaves the period details to the set dressings and costumes.
Endeavour is available to watch on Amazon Prime.