37 new British TV period drama series you need to see in 2020

British period drama fans have another marvellous year of television ahead for them.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the new British period drama series, mini-series and TV movies you need to see in 2020!

 

All Creatures Great and Small – Season 1

What’s it about?

Based on author James Herriot’s much-loved collection of stories, this new series from the makers of Downton Abbey stars Callum Woodhouse (The Durrells), Samuel West (Mr Selfridge), Anna Madeley (Patrick Melrose) and Rachel Shenton (White Gold).

All Creatures Great and Small chronicles the heartwarming and humorous adventures of a young country vet in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s.

When will it air?

All Creatures Great and Small will air in 2020 on Channel 5 in the UK and on PBS in the US, marking the 50th anniversary of the first book’s publication.

The original All Creatures Great and Small is available on DVD on Amazon.

 

Anne (mini-series)

What’s it about?

ITV’s four-part drama tells the inspirational true story of justice campaigner Anne Williams as she attempts to uncover the truth about what her son’s death in 1989’s Hillsborough football tragedy.

The Village star Maxine Peake will lead the cast as Anne Williams.

When will it air?

Anne will air on ITV in the UK in 2020.

 

Around the World in Eighty Days (mini-series)

What’s it about?

Doctor Who star David Tennant leads the cast of this new series based on French writer Jules Verne’s classic 1873 book.

Around the World in Eighty Days follows the adventures of Phileas Fogg from London (Tennant) and his French valet Passepartout (French comedian Ahmed Sylla) as they attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a £20,000 wager.

When will it air?

Around the World in Eighty Days will premiere in late 2020.

Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days novel is available on Amazon.

 

Belgravia (mini-series)

What’s it about?

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has adapted his 2016 book as a new six-part mini-series for ITV.

The New York Times bestselling novel tells a story of secrets and scandals amongst the upper echelon of London society in the 1840s.

The cast of Belgravia is led by Tamsin Greig (Episodes), Philip Glenister (Life on Mars) and Harriet Walter (Downton Abbey).

When will it air?

Belgravia will air on ITV in the UK in early 2020.

Julian Fellowes’ original Belgravia book is available to buy on Amazon.

 

Black Narcissus (mini-series)

What’s it about?

BBC One’s new adaptation of Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel Black Narcissus follows Sister Clodagh and the nuns of St Faiths, who travel to Nepal to set up a branch of their order in the remote palace of Mopu.

Starring Gemma Arterton (Their Finest), Diana Rigg (Victoria), Jim Broadbent (War and Peace), Gina McKee (Bodyguard) and Rosie Cavaliero (Gentleman Jack), the three-part mini-series returns the haunting love story to its original setting in the 1930s, as the western colonial order is about to explode into the crisis of World War II.

When will it air?

Black Narcissus will air on BBC One in the UK and on FX in the US in 2020.

Rumer Godden’s novel Black Narcissus is available on Amazon.

 

Boys (mini-series)

What’s it about?

Opening in London, 1981, Channel 4’s new five-part mini-series will follow the story of the 1980s, the story of the AIDS epidemic, and the story of three young men, Ritchie, Roscoe and Colin, across the decade.

Award-winning Welsh screenwriter Russell T Davies (A Very English Scandal) commented: “I lived through those times, and it’s taken me decades to build up to this. And as time marches on, there’s a danger the story will be forgotten. So it’s an honour to write this for the ones we lost, and the ones who survived.”

When will it air?

Boys will air on Channel 4 in the UK in 2020.

 

Call the Midwife – Season 9

What’s it about?

The BBC’s long-running period drama series about a group of nurse midwives working in the East End of London returns for a ninth season.

The show’s creator Heidi Thomas commented: “Even after all these years, it still feels as though Call the Midwife has more truth to tell, more tears to cry, more life to celebrate, and more love to give.

When will it air?

Season 9 will air on BBC One in the UK in spring 2020, then shortly after on PBS in the US.

Season 8 is available on DVD on Amazon.

 

Carnival Row – Season 2

What’s it about?

Set in a Victorian fantasy world filled with mythological immigrant creatures, Amazon’s hit series is led by Pirates of the Caribbean star Orlando Bloom and British model turned actress Cara Delevingne.

Carnival Row creator Travis Beacham has teased: “At the end of Season 1, all of our characters are in completely different circumstances than they started the show. And that also includes the Burge itself. The change the city goes through in the eighth and final episode is so seismic that it really sets off Season 2.”

When will it air?

Season 2 began filming in September 2019, so we’d expect it to premiere on Amazon in late 2020.

Carnival Row is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

 

The Children (TV movie)

What’s it about?

Iain Glen (Downton Abbey), Romola Garai (The Hour) and Tim McInnerny (Blackadder) star in this “stark, moving and ultimately redemptive story,” marking the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust.

The Children is based on the first-person testimony of some of these now elderly survivors of the Holocaust, whose filmed interviews will also be featured in the 90-minute TV movie.

When will it air?

The Children will air on in the UK on BBC Two and in Germany on ZDF in 2020.

 

Dracula – Season 1

What’s it about?

Sherlock writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have teamed up again for a new version of Bram Stoker’s classic Gothic novel Dracula.

Set in Transylvania in 1897 as the blood-drinking Count draws his plans against Victorian London, BBC One’s three 90-minute episodes “re-introduce the world to Dracula, the vampire who made evil sexy.”

When will it air?

Dracula will air on BBC One in the UK in early 2020.

Bram Stoker’s original novel is available on Amazon.

 

The Elephant Man (mini-series)

What’s it about?

Stranger Things actor Charlie Heaton stars in BBC One’s new two-part drama from the makers of The Missing and the producer of Poldark.

The Elephant Man tells the story of Joseph Merrick, who was born in England in 1862 and appeared in a freak show as the “Elephant Man” due to his severe face and body deformities. He was later well known in London society after becoming friends with a prominent surgeon.

When will it air?

The Elephant Man will air on BBC One in the UK in early 2020.

 

The English Game (mini-series)

What’s it about?

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes makes his Netflix debut with The English Game, a new period drama exploring the origins of football.

Set in the late 1800s, the six-part event series delves into how the sport crossed class lines and became a worldwide phenomenon despite its humble beginnings on the pitch at London’s Limes Field.

When will it air?

The English Game will premiere exclusively on Netflix around the world in early 2020.

 

Englistan (mini-series)

What’s it about?

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story star Riz Ahmed has created this nine-part multi-generational 20th century family drama for BBC Two.

Englistan will follow the story of three generations of a British Pakistani family, the Latifs, as they pursue their dreams over four tumultuous decades.

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, hinted: “Set against the familiar backdrop of the late 20th but from a point of view which feels entirely new, Englistan is the story of the birth of multicultural Britain as seen from the inside.”

When will it air?

Englistan will air on BBC Two in the UK later in 2020.

 

Endeavour – Season 7

What’s it about?

Shaun Evans returns as DS Endeavour Morse, alongside Roger Allam as DI Fred Thursday, in three new feature-length stories.

Set in 1970, the seventh season of Endeavour “will test Endeavour’s moral compass to breaking point, both personally and professionally.”

When will it air?

The new season will air in the UK on ITV in early 2020 and in the US later in the year on PBS.

Season 6 is available on DVD on Amazon.

 

Father Brown – Season 8

What’s it about?

Set in the Cotswolds in the early 1950s and based on the stories by GK Chesterton, the BBC’s hit daytime drama series returns for a eighth season.

Harry Potter actor Mark Williams reprises his role as the crime-busting Roman Catholic priest, alongside regulars Sorcha Cusack, Emer Kenny, Jack Deam and John Burton.

When will it air?

Season 8 will air on BBC One in the UK in early 2020.

Father Brown is available on DVD on Amazon.

 

Gentleman Jack – Season 2

What’s it about?

Based on the diaries of remarkable Regency landowner Anne Lister, Gentleman Jack returns to 1830s Halifax, West Yorkshire for a second season.

Writer Sally Wainwright has hinted: “Anne and Ann move into Shibden together in series two and it’s about how they negotiate their married life, conspicuously in public, and how they deal with their detractors and the effect that has on their relationship as well.”

When will it air?

Gentleman Jack will return with another eight episodes in 2020 on BBC One in the UK and HBO in the USA.

Season 1 is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

 

The Gilded Age – Season 1

What’s it about?

Created by Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes, The Gilded Age is set in New York in 1882 and will focus on the emerging rich and the working class.

The series follows Marian Brook, the wide-eyed young scion of a conservative family who embarks on infiltrating the wealthy neighboring family dominated by ruthless railroad tycoon George Russell.

It has been rumoured that younger versions of popular Downton Abbey characters could appear in the series!

When will it air?

The Gilded Age will premiere in the USA on HBO in 2020 and in the UK at a later date.

 

Grantchester – Season 5

What’s it about?

Outlander actor Tom Brittney is back as DI Geordie Keating’s new crime-solving partner for in a fifth season of ITV’s crime drama based on James Runcie’s novels.

Picking up in 1957, a year after the events of Season 4’s finale, for many of the residents of Grantchester, it feels like they’re in a delightful new Eden, but for all the talk of paradise on earth and faith-in-action, Geordie Keating knows that trouble is never far away.

When will it air?

Season 5 will air on ITV in the UK in early 2020 and on PBS in the US later in the year.

The fourth season of Grantchester is available on DVD on Amazon.

 

The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe (mini-series)

What’s it about?

Based on Keith Badman’s 2010 book The Final Years of Marilyn Monroe, this series from The Good Karma Hospital writer Dan Sefton will dramatise the last six months of Marilyn Monroe’s life.

Exploring the area “where the harsh glamour of 1960s Hollywood and the hard-edged politics of Washington intersect,” The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe will explore Monroe’s relationship with Hollywood studio bosses and US President John F Kennedy.

When will it air?

The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe is expected to air on BBC One in the UK in 2020.

 

Leonardo (mini-series)

What’s it about?

Poldark star Aidan Turner will play Italian inventor Leonardo da Vinci in this eight-part historical series from Sherlock writer Steve Thompson and The X-Files writer Frank Spotnitz.

Leonardo provides an original take on the Renaissance genius, covering his masterful achievements in various fields, not only including art.

When will it air?

Leonardo will premiere in 2020, marking the 500th anniversary of da Vinci’s death.

 

Little Birds (mini-series)

What’s it about?

Set in Tangier in northwestern Morocco in 1955, Sky Atlantic’s “playful and intensely evocative” six-part period drama series is based on Nin’s infamous collection of erotic short stories.

29-year-old English actress Juno Temple (Atonement) leads the cast as troubled American debutante Lucy Savage in the the “provocative, intelligent, emotionally vibrant and unashamedly entertaining” series.

When will it air?

Little Birds will air in the UK on Sky Atlantic in 2020.

Anais Nin’s book Little Birds is available on Amazon.

 

The North Water (mini-series)

What’s it about?

Colin Farrell (Saving Mr Banks) and Jack O’Connell (Godless) lead the cast of BBC Two’s adaptation of Ian McGuire’s The North Water.

Set in the UK and the ice floes of the Arctic in the late 1850s, the four-part mini-series tells the story of a disgraced ex-army surgeon who signs up on a whaling expedition to the Arctic. Hoping to escape the horrors of his past, he finds himself on an ill-fated journey with a murderous psychopath.

When will it air?

The North Water will air on BBC Two in the UK in 2020.

Ian McGuire’s novel The North Water is available on Amazon.

 

Outlander – Season 5

What’s it about?

Based on the fifth book in author Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, the new season sees Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) “fight time, space, and history to protect their family.”

Establishing a home in the New World is by no means an easy task – and protecting it proves even more difficult – particularly in the wild backcountry of North Carolina during a period of dramatic sociopolitical upheaval.

When will it air?

Following an unexpected delay, Season 5 premieres in the US on Sunday 16th February 2020 on Starz.

Season 4 is available on DVD on Amazon.

 

Peaky Blinders – Season 6

What’s it about?

The BBC’s hit period drama series about a crime family in Birmingham, England in the 1920s will return for a sixth season.

When will it air?

Season 6 is expected to premiere in late 2020 on BBC One in the UK and on Netflix internationally.

Peaky Blinders is available on DVD on Amazon.

 

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels – Season 1

What’s it about?

Featuring all new characters, Showtime’s Penny Dreadful spin-off moves the action on from Victorian London to Los Angeles in the 1930s.

Rooted in the conflict between characters connected to the deity Santa Muerte and others allied with the Devil, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels explores an exciting mix of the supernatural and the combustible reality of that period, creating new occult myths and moral dilemmas within a genuine historical backdrop.

The cast includes Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones, Picnic At Hanging Rock), Nathan Lane (Modern Family) and Daniel Zovatto (Agents Of SHIELD).

When will it air?

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels is expected to premiere in early 2020 on Showtime in the US and on Sky in the UK.

The complete Penny Dreadful box set is available on Amazon.

 

Ridley Road (mini-series)

What’s it about?

From the makers of Happy Valley, BBC One’s new four-part romantic spy thriller is based on the critically acclaimed novel by Jo Bloom.

Ridley Road is a thriller set against the backdrop of a swinging sixties London we haven’t seen: an East End world where far right fascism is on the rise. When Vivien Epstein follows her lover into danger and he is caught between life and death, Vivien finds herself going undercover with the fascists, not only for him but for the sake of her country.

When will it air?

Ridley Road will air in the UK on BBC One in 2020.

Jo Bloom’s novel is available on Amazon.

 

The Serpent (mini-series)

What’s it about?

From the makers of Poldark and Endeavour, this eight-part crime thriller set in the 1970s is based on the phenomenal true story of how one of the most elusive criminals of the 20th century was caught and brought to trial.

The Serpent is written by Ripper Street creator Richard Warlow, with a cast that includes Victoria star Jenna Coleman.

When will it air?

The Serpent is expected to air on BBC One in the UK in 2020 and will premiere internationally on Netflix.

 

The Singapore Grip (mini-series)

What’s it about?

Oscar winning screenwriter and playwright Christopher Hampton (AtonementDangerous Liaisons) has adapted Booker Prize winner J.G. Farrell’s classic novel as a new six-part mini-series for ITV.

Set during World War Two, The Singapore Grip centres on a British family living in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion in 1941.

Luke Treadaway (Ordeal By Innocence) will lead the cast as reluctant hero Matthew Webb, alongside David Morrissey (Britannia), Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) and Jane Horrocks (Absolutely Fabulous).

When will it air?

The Singapore Grip is expected to air on ITV in the UK in early 2020.

J.G. Farrell’s novel is available to buy on Amazon.

 

Small Axe (mini-series)

What’s it about?

From 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen, BBC One’s new anthology drama series is set within London’s West Indian community from the late 1960s to the early 80s.

Small Axe will tell five separate stories, with a cast that includes John Boyega (Star Wars), Letitia Wright (Avengers: Infinity War), Shaun Parkes (Lost In Space), Rochenda Sandall (Line of Duty) and Alex Jennings (Victoria).

When will it air?

Small Axe will air in 2020 on BBC One in the UK.

 

A Suitable Boy (mini-series)

What’s it about?

Award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies (War & Peace, Pride & Prejudice, Mr Selfridge) had adapted Vikram Seth’s bestseller A Suitable Boy for BBC One.

Set during the 1950s, the six-part series tells the story of a young woman’s search for love and identity in a newly independent, post-Partition India defining its own future.

When will it air?

A Suitable Boy will air in the UK on BBC One in 2020.

Vikram Seth’s novel A Suitable Boy is available on Amazon.

 

Taboo – Season 2

What’s it about?

Created by actor Tom Hardy and Peaky Blinders writer Steven Knight, Taboo launched way back in January 2017 and a second season is finally on the way.

Set in 1814, the first season followed James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy), believed to be long dead, who returned home to London from Africa to inherit what is left of his father’s shipping empire and rebuild a life for himself.

Eight new episodes of the dark period drama will see our anti-hero “continue to explore many realities as he takes his band of misfits to a new world.”

When will it air?

Season 2 is expected to air towards the end of 2020 on BBC One in the UK and on FX in the USA.

The first season of Taboo is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

 

Tom Jones (mini-series)

What’s it about?

Gwyneth Hughes, the screenwriter behind ITV’s Vanity Fair, is reuniting with the makers of War & Peace and Victoria, for a new version of Henry Fielding’s 1749 novelTom Jones.

Executive producer Damien Timmer (Poldark) commented: “Popular culture has Tom Jones down as a womanising rogue, based on previous adaptations. But Fielding’s original is so much more complex than that: he’s a goodhearted hero, trying to make his way in a world where no one understands the rules, which reminds us very much of today.”

When will it air?

Tom Jones is expected to air on ITV in the UK later in 2020.

Henry Fielding’s novel is available on Amazon.

 

Victoria – Season 4

What’s it about?

A fourth season of ITV’s historical drama series about the life of Queen Victoria hasn’t been officially confirmed, but it is apparently in development, even if there might be a bit of a wait.

Victoria creator Daisy Goodwin has teased ominously that it’ll be “an absolute humdinger, because… well, you can go to Wikipedia to find out!”

When will it air?

Season 4 is expected to air in late 2020 on ITV in the UK and on PBS in the US.

The first three seasons of Victoria are available on DVD on Amazon.

 

Vikings – Season 6

What’s it about?

Inspired by the sagas of Viking Ragnar Lothbrok, History’s hit historical drama continues its final season.

After years of turmoil and tragedy, Vikings reaches its biggest climax yet with the Vikings traveling to never-before-seen locations thousands of miles from Kattegat, meeting vicious rivals worthy of their strategic combat and finally facing the consequences of Ragnar’s death.

When will it air?

The second half of Season 6 will air on History in the US in mid-2020 and will premiere in the UK on Amazon Prime Video shortly after its US broadcast.

Vikings is available on DVD on Amazon.

 

White House Farm (mini-series)

What’s it about?

From the makers of The Missing and based on extensive research, ITV’s six-part factual drama tells the true story of the fateful night in August 1985 when five members of the same family were murdered at a farmhouse in Essex.

The cast includes Freddie Fox (Parade’s End), Mark Addy (Game of Thrones), Stephen Graham (Line of Duty), Gemma Whelan (Gentleman Jack) and Amanda Burton (Silent Witness).

When will it air?

White House Farm will air in the UK in early 2020 on ITV.

 

The Witchfinder – Season 1

What’s it about?

Created by Alan Partridge writers Neil and Rob Gibbons, The Witchfinder stars Daisy May Cooper (The Personal History of David Copperfield) and Tim Key (Alan Partridge).

BBC Two’s new six-part comedy series follows a witchfinder and his suspect on a road-free road trip through an England gripped by civil war, famine and plague in the 1647.

When will it air?

The Witchfinder will air on BBC Two in the UK in 2020.

 

World on Fire – Season 2

What’s it about?

BBC One’s epic international period drama series set in World War II returns for a second season.

The second season of World on Fire will span the years 1940 to 1941, and all the main cast are expected to return, including Oscar-winner Helen Hunt (As Good As It Gets), Sharpe star Sean Bean and Lesley Manville (MumRiver).

When will it air?

Season 2 will air in late 2020 or possibly in 2021.

 

Take a look at our list of 2019’s best British TV period dramas here.