22 great British period drama box sets you can 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:

 

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 10 months.

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 10 months.

Watch here!

 

Picnic at Hanging Rock (6 episodes)

Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) stars in this gripping reimagining of Joan Lindsay’s iconic Australian novel that delves into the mysterious disappearances of three schoolgirls and their governess on Valentine’s Day, 1900.

Available for 7 months.

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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 10 months.

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Our World War (3 episodes)

Inspired by the BBC’s 2012 BAFTA-winning series Our War, which tracked the first-hand experiences of British troops on the frontline in Afghanistan, this follow-up series is based on eyewitness accounts of the soldiers who served in the First World War.

The three episodes immerse viewers in the real stories of British troops on the frontline.

Available for 10 months.

Watch here!

 

The Luminaries (6 episodes)

Starring Eva Green (Penny Dreadful), this epic 19th century adventure mystery series is adapted by novelist Eleanor Catton from her award-winning novel.

The Luminaries is set on the Wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island in the boom years of the 1860s gold rush.

Available for 2 months.

Watch here!

 

Harlots (16 episodes)

Harlots follows a brothel in 18th-century London.

Sex sells like nothing else in grimy, decadent Georgian London. Madames and businesswomen Margaret and Lydia are at war for the passions, and purses, of London’s finest gentlemen.

Available for 1 month.

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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!

 

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 10 months.

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Dracula (3 episodes)

Based on Bram Stoker’s classic Gothic novel, this 2020 horror mini-series comes from the minds of Sherlock creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat.

Dracula is set in Transylvania in 1897 as the blood-drinking Count draws his plans against Victorian London.

Available for 2 months.

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Taboo (8 episodes)

The BBC’s dark period drama series is created by Peaky Blinders writer Steven Knight with actor Tom Hardy.

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

Available for over a year.

Watch here!

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

BBC One’s 2016 feature-length dramatisation of the classic Shakespeare play, adapted for television by A Very English Scandal writer Russell T Davies.

In the tyrannical court of Athens, pitiless dictator Theseus plans his wedding to Hippolyta, a prisoner of war, and young Hermia is sentenced to death by her own father. Meanwhile, in the town below, amateur theatre group the Mechanicals rehearse, with all their comic rivalries. And beyond Athens, in the wild woods, dark forces are stirring.

Available for 6 months.

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The Trial of Christine Keeler (6 episodes)

Based on one of the most infamous British true life stories, The Trial of Christine Keeler follows the cover-up of an affair between a British Minister and model Christine Keeler as the scandal threatens to bring down the government.

The six-part series stars James Norton (Grantchester), Sophie Cookson (Kingsman), and Ben Miles (The Crown).

Available for 3 months.

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Father Brown (10 episodes)

Based on the stories by GK Chesterton, BBC One’s popular daytime crime drama stars Harry Potter actor Mark Williams as the titular clerical sleuth, solving mysteries in the Cotswolds during the early 1950s.

Available for 3 months.

Watch here!

 

Mrs Wilson (3 episodes)

Based on the fascinating life of her own grandmother, Ruth Wilson starred in this complex tale of espionage, betrayal and polygamy set in 1960s London, 1940s London and 1930s India.

The cast also includes Keeley Hawes (The Durrells) and Iain Glen (Downton Abbey).

Available for 2 months.

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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 2 months.

Watch here!

 

Robin Hood (39 episodes)

BBC One’s Saturday night drama series gives a contemporary feel to the classic Robin Hood legend, focusing on Robin Hood’s fight against the evil and corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham.

Available for 2 months.

Watch here!

 

A Christmas Carol (3 episodes)

Written by Peaky Blinders creator Stephen Knight, the BBC’s 2019 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel starred Guy Pearce (Memento), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) and Stephen Graham (Line of Duty).

Available for 2 months.

Watch here!

 

Vienna Blood (3 episodes)

Sherlock writer Steve Thompson has adapted the Liebermann novels by Frank Tallis, following brilliant young English doctor Max Liebermann as he studies under the famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud in 1900s Vienna.

Available for 1 month.

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Call the Midwife (78 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!

 

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!

 

The Musketeers (30 episodes)

Based on the characters from Alexandre Dumas’s novel The Three Musketeers, BBC One’s action adventure series aired for three seasons between 2014 and 2016.

Available for 9 months.

Watch here!

 

Take a look at more new streaming recommendations here!