26 great British period drama box sets to watch on BBC iPlayer right now

There’s currently a wonderful selection of British period drama series on BBC iPlayer.

UK viewers who have a TV licence can watch the BBC’s streaming service on a wide range of devices, including tablets, mobile phones, computers and smart televisions – all with no adverts!

In addition to featuring recently aired shows to catch up on, BBC iPlayer has recently started showcasing a huge array of classic series from the corporation’s archive.

We’ve put together this list of suggestions for British period drama fans to check out:

 

Around the World in 80 Days (8 episodes)

Based on Jules Verne’s classic 1873 novel, this period drama adventure series stars David Tennant (BroadchurchDoctor Who) as intrepid explorer Phileas Fogg.

Available for over a year.

Watch here!

 

Ashes to Ashes (24 episodes)

Fire up the Quattro! Keeley Hawes (The Durrells) plays DI Alex Drake, who wakes up in 1981 in this follow-up to Life on Mars.

Available for 4 months.

Watch here!

 

A Suitable Boy (6 episodes)

Set in India during the 1950s, Vikram Seth’s modern classic has been adapted by Sanditon writer Andrew Davies.

In newly independent India, passionate literature student Lata Mehra is torn between family duty and the promise of romance as three very different men try to win her heart.

Available for over a year.

Watch here!

 

Atlantis (25 episodes)

From the makers of Merlin, a submarine accident lands Jason on a mysterious island ruled by heroes and mythical creatures. With the help of new friends, will he find his destiny?

Available for 6 months.

Watch here!

 

A Very British Scandal (3 episodes)

The follow-up to 2018’s A Very English Scandal focuses on one of the most notorious, extraordinary and brutal legal cases of the 20th century: the divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. Leading the cast are Claire Foy (The Crown) and Paul Bettany (The Da Vinci Code).

Available for over a year.

Watch here!

 

A Very English Scandal (3 episodes)

It is the late 1960s, homosexuality has only just been decriminalised, and politician Jeremy Thorpe (played by an award-winning Hugh Grant) has a secret he is desperate to hide.

Available for 4 months.

Watch here!

 

Call the Midwife (96 episodes)

Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the BBC’s hit period drama series follows a group of nurse midwives working in the East End of London in the 1950s and 1960s.

Available for over a year.

Watch here!

 

Effie Gray (movie)

Emma Thompson writers and stars in this 2014 movie, alongside Dakota Fanning, Julie Walters, David Suchet, Derek Jacobi, and Robbie Coltrane.

Available for over a year.

Watch here!

 

Father Brown (11 episodes)

Based on the stories by GK Chesterton, BBC One’s period crime drama follows the titular clerical sleuth’s mystery-solving skills in the Cotswolds during the early 1950s.

Available for 9 months.

Watch here!

 

Fosse/Verdon (8 episodes)

This American biographical mini-series, shown on the BBC in 2019, stars Sam Rockwell as director-choreographer Bob Fosse and Michelle Williams as actress and dancer Gwen Verdon.

Available for over a year.

Watch here!

 

Gentleman Jack (16 episodes)

Based on the diaries of remarkable Regency landowner Anne Lister, this drama is set in Halifax, 1832. Rejected by aristocratic Vere Hobart, Anne Lister returns to her shabby ancestral home, Shibden Hall, determined to restore its fortunes and find herself a wife.

Available for over a year.

Watch here!

 

Life on Mars (16 episodes)

Is he mad, in a coma… or has Detective Sam Tyler really travelled back in time to the 1970s? John Simm stars in BBC One’s hit drama series from 2006.

Available for 4 months.

Watch here!

 

The Luminaries (6 episodes)

Adapted by novelist Eleanor Catton from her award-winning novelThe Luminaries is set on the wild West coast of New Zealand’s South Island at the height of the 1860s gold rush.

The cast includes Eva Green (Penny Dreadful), Eve Hewson (Bridge of Spies), Marton Csokas (Lord of the Rings), Himesh Patel (EastEnders), and Ewen Leslie (Top of the Lake).

Available for 2 months.

Watch here!

 

Merlin (65 episodes)

Based on the legend of King Arthur and Merlin, this fantasy adventure drama ran for five seasons on BBC One.

Available for 8 months.

Watch here!

 

The Mezzotint

Written by Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss, the spooky 30-minute drama is based on M. R. James’ 1904 ghost story. Rory Kinnear is joined by Robert Bathurst (Downton Abbey), Frances Barber (Doctor Who), and Nikesh Patel (Indian Summers).

Available for 8 months.

Watch here!

 

Mrs. America (9 episodes)

Cate Blanchett stars in FX’s stylish, treacherous true story exploring women, fights, and fallout on both sides of America’s sex equality war in the 1970s.

Available for over a year.

Watch here!

 

The Musketeers (30 episodes)

A thrilling world of action, adventure and romance inspired by Dumas’ legendary characters, starring Tom Burke (Strike), Santiago Cabrera (Merlin), and Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who).

Available for 9 months.

Watch here!

 

The North Water (5 episodes)

The BBC’s five-part adaptation of Ian McGuire’s critically acclaimed 2016 novel is set in the ice floes of the Arctic in the late 1850s.

Available for over a year.

Watch here!

 

Our World War (3 episodes)

Tense combat drama series from 2014 revealing experiences of British soldiers in World War One.

Available for 4 months.

Watch here!

 

Paris Police 1900 (8 episodes)

Stylish French drama. Every golden age has a dark side – can the light prevail? Crime and sin, glamour and repression, in a city at breaking point.

Available for 5 months.

Watch here!

 

Peaky Blinders (36 episodes)

Stylish, epic gangster saga. Fierce, damaged crime boss Tommy Shelby stalks the lawless streets of 1920s Birmingham, carving out an empire for himself and his family.

Available for 5 months.

Watch here!

 

The Pursuit of Love (3 episodes)

A romantic comedy-drama about love and friendship, this three-part adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s classic 1945 novel tells the story of an upper-class English family between the First and Second World Wars.

Available for 1 month.

Watch here!

 

Ridley Road (4 episodes)

Based on Jo Bloom’s critically acclaimed novel, 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.

Available for 5 months.

Watch here!

 

Small Axe (5 episodes)

Love letters to black resilience and triumph in London’s West Indian community, directed by Oscar winner Steve McQueen. Five feature-length vivid stories of hard-won victories in the face of racism.

Available for 8 months.

Watch here!

 

Vienna Blood (6 episodes)

Set in 1900s Austria, this period crime drama is adapted from the best-selling Liebermann novels by Frank Tallis by Sherlock writer Steve Thompson.

Available for over a year.

Watch here!

 

Wolf Hall (6 episodes)

Historical drama chronicling the rise of Thomas Cromwell, the son of a humble blacksmith who became King Henry VIII’s chief minister, as he navigated the corridors of power in the Tudor court.

Available for 6 months.

Watch here!

 

Take a look at more new streaming recommendations here!