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:

 

An Inspector Calls (TV movie)

Harry Potter actor David Thewlis stars in this 2015 adaptation of J. B. Priestley’s play as the mysterious ‘Inspector Goole’, who interrupts a wealthy family’s family party to tell them a young woman died of suicide that night. But what’s that got to do with them?

One by one, they will find out… as their shattering, dark secrets are revealed.

Available for 4 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!

 

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 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 10 months.

Watch here!

Black Narcissus (3 episodes)

The sisters of St Faith travel to the mysterious palace of Mopu, high in the Himalayas. Mopu’s dark past begins to haunt the nuns, forcing them to confront their deepest desires.

Based on English author Rumer Godden’s 1939 literary novel, this three-part mini-series stars Gemma Arterton (Their Finest), Diana Rigg (Victoria), Jim Broadbent (War and Peace), Gina McKee (Bodyguard), and Rosie Cavaliero (Gentleman Jack).

Available for 2 months.

Watch here!

 

Call the Midwife (87 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 7 months.

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!

 

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 (8 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 7 months.

Watch here!

 

Les Miserables (6 episodes)

A story of love, injustice, redemption and hope, based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, in which an extraordinary cast of characters struggle to survive in war-torn France.

Available for 6 months.

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 10 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 8 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 2 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!

 

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.

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!

 

Peaky Blinders (30 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 over a year.

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 7 months.

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 11 months.

Watch here!

 

The Serpent (8 episodes)

Set in the 1970s and based on a phenomenal true story, the BBC and Netflix’s eight-part mini-series tells how one of the most elusive criminals of the 20th century was caught and brought to trial.

From the creator of Ripper Street and the makers of EndeavourThe Serpent stars French actor Tahar Rahim (A Prophet) and Jenna Coleman (Victoria).

Available for 2 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 2 months.

Watch here!

 

Stan and Ollie (movie)

John C. Reilly (Gangs of New York) and Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge) star as the world’s favorite comedy double act, Laurel & Hardy, as they embark on a variety hall tour of Britain in 1953.

Available for 4 months.

Watch here!

 

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 6 months.

Watch here!

 

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.

Watch here!

 

Vienna Blood (3 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!

 

Take a look at more new streaming recommendations here!