10 wonderful period dramas to curl up by the fire with this winter

When the snow is falling and the temperature’s dropping, is there any better time to tuck into a great TV show or movie?

Guest writer Jessica Werre has compiled a list for us of 10 period dramas you should add to your watch list this winter.

So get the fire going, grab a blanket and sit back for a lazy winter afternoon with your favourite characters!


Bleak House

What it’s about?

The estate case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which is composed of several conflicting wills and beneficiaries, has gone on for years.

John Jarndyce (Denis Lawson), a man of means, takes in his young cousins Ada Clare (Carey Mulligan) and Richard Carstone (Patrick Kennedy) as his wards – all of whom have a claim in the case. Esther Summerson (Anna Maxwell Martin) is also taken in as companion to Ada and housekeeper of Mr. Jarndyce’s home, Bleak House.

The plot thickens when Bleak House’s neighbours Sir Leicester and Lady Dedlock’s crafty lawyer Mr. Tulkinghorn (Charles Dance) uncovers a secret that could change the course of Jarndyce and Jarndyce and all those entangled in it.

Why should you watch it?

Based on the Charles Dickens novel (1852-1853) of the same name, the BBC’s 15-part mini-series from 2005 is the perfect winter follow-up to holiday favourite A Christmas Carol!

The complete Bleak House box set available on DVD on Amazon.


Call the Midwife

What’s it about?

This much beloved show, now 9 seasons strong, depicts the day to day lives of midwives serving the impoverished East End of London during the late 1950’s and 1960’s.

Originally based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the series explores the struggles and joys of midwifery in the face of an ever-changing society.

Why should you watch it?

The annual Christmas specials of this show capture the warmth and nostalgia of the season in a wonderful way. They are best enjoyed leading up to the holidays – just be sure to have a tin of Quality Street and a box of tissues within reach!

All the Call the Midwife box sets are available on DVD on Amazon.


The Crown

What’s it about?

The first four seasons of Netflix’s award-winning series chronicle the life of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy and later Olivia Colman) from just prior to her Coronation through to 1990.

Why should you watch it?

The Queen’s Christmas address is a long-held holiday tradition – and with a fifth season of The Crown on the way next month, it’s the perfect time to catch up.

The Crown is available on DVD on Amazon.


Doctor Zhivago

What’s it about?

Set in Tsarist Russia in the early 1900’s, the Russia Revolution serves as the backdrop for this love story between the title character, poet and doctor, Yuri Zhivago (Hans Matheson) and the beautiful Lara Antipova (Keira Knightley) (Anna Karenina) in ITV’s 2002 adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s novel.

Why should you watch it?

Nothing says great winter viewing then a snowy Russian setting, complex characters and romance!

The Doctor Zhivago mini-series is available on DVD on Amazon.


Love and Friendship

What’s it about?

Kate Beckinsale plays Lady Susan Vernon in this period comedy based on Jane Austen’s little-known novel Lady Susan.

The plot centers around the widowed, but relatively young Lady Susan who sets out to find a suitably wealthy match for herself and her only daughter.

Why should you watch it?

Love and Friendship is something new and delightful for Jane Austen fans – and the costuming is brilliant.

Love and Friendship is available on DVD on Amazon.



What’s it about?

Colin Morgan plays the title character in the BBC’s 2008-2012 take on the old Arthurian legend.

The series follows the growth of the peasant boy Merlin to the all-power warlock as well as his growth from servant to closest friend of King Arthur.

Why should you watch it?

Let’s just say you if you don’t like magic, adventure or a dragon voiced by the legendary John Hurt, you should pass one this one.

The complete Merlin box set is available on DVD on Amazon.


Pride and Prejudice

What’s it about?

Arguably Jane Austen’s most beloved work about the quick judgements and eventual romance between the sharp-witted Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle) and the proud Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth).

Why should you watch it?

It’s always a great time of year to rewatch the BBC’s classic 1995 mini-series – or if you haven’t watched it yet, what are you waiting for?!

The Pride and Prejudice box set is available on DVD on Amazon.



What’s it about?

C.S. Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) is the renowned author of the Narnia books, a professor at Oxford University, and a bachelor.

1993’s Shadowlands movie tells the story of his marriage to Joy Gresham and the romance that grows between them – and the bond that is created when Joy is diagnosed with cancer.

Why should you watch it?

If The Chronicles of Narnia is already on your winter watch list, this should be as well!

Shadowlands is available on DVD on Amazon.


Upstairs Downstairs

What’s it about?

Often called the predecessor to the now well-loved Downton Abbey series, the original Upstairs Downstairs episodes in the mid-1970s were short and comedic.

The series tells the story of the aristocratic Bellamy family (“upstairs”) who reside in London along with their servants (“downstairs”) during the early years of of the 20th Century. 

Why should you watch it?

Getting ready for the second Downton Abbey movie and exhausted all other resources? Then this is the show for you!

The complete Upstairs Downstairs collection is available on DVD on Amazon.



What’s it about?

Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) portrays a young newly crowned Queen Victoria in ITV’s hit series.

The show’s first three seasons cover Victoria’s early days as queen and her courtship and marriage to Prince Albert (Tom Hughes).

Why should you watch it?

Coleman is just a delight to watch, the costuming is on point, and the story-telling phenomenal. Also it is a great “prequel” to The Crown!

The complete Victoria box set is available on DVD on Amazon.