The Period of the Drama

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I’ve always had a certain weakness for period films/shows. I recently posted about a new favourite ‘The Paradise’, set in the 1800s in an early English department store. This is just one in the long list of dramas set in bygone days that I can’t seem to stop watching. As usual, I thought I would compile a list of my favourites, some old and some new, which I’m sure I won’t be alone in absolutely loving, beyond all sense!

1. Downton Abbey (2010 – present). Ahhh, of course I just had to include this cult favourite. This is one of the few dramas set in the early part of the last century to have produced a mass following. And I am certainly one of them! The irresistible charm of this mostly post-war drama will leave you sobbing, laughing and drawing breath in eager suspense. The sets are by far one of the most appealing aspects of this wonderful series (with all of the ‘upstairs’ rooms being filmed in a real mansion – Highclere Castle) and the costumes are also beautifully accurate and stunningly modern. And of course, the drama! Too much for some, but for me – I just can’t get enough.

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2. Cranford (2007 and 2009). The tale of a group of elderly women … doesn’t sound too appealing but trust me, it is so beautiful and terribly sad that you will jump at the chance to watch the sequel series ‘Return to Cranford’, incidentally starring Michelle Dockery and Jim Carter (Lady Mary Crawley and Mr Carson of Downton Abbey). This may not be to everyones taste, but my love for Dame Judi Dench and the fabulously cast Imelda Staunton often makes me forget that I’m watching a drama centred around the lives of the elderly (whom, of course, I have no objection to, but hardly the selling point of a must-watch drama series). Oh, and if that doesn’t persuade you, I might just add that Tom Hiddleston plays a rather major role in ‘Return to Cranford’ …

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3. Mr Selfridge (2013). This is a new one for me. And indeed, there is only one season which was released last year. It took me a while to warm to this drama, as I wasn’t too fond of the protagonist – Mr Selfridge. But, after sticking with it, I found I developed quite a passion for this series. It’s set, like ‘The Paradise’, in an early department store. This one, however, is based on fact. Well, supposedly anyway. The sets and costumes being nowhere near as wonderful as those in ‘The Paradise’, I thought I may not warm to it as much. However, the drama and intrigue of the plot far makes up for it. I find myself eager for a second season!

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4. Lark Rise to Candleford (2008 – 2011). I haven’t seen all that much of this show, and there are a lot of episodes to get through, but what I have seen I loved. It reminds me of ‘Cranford’ (although not about a group of old ladies) and stars another actor from ‘Downton Abbey’ – Brendon Coyle (better known as ‘Mr Bates’). I really do have to get back into this show as my sister has watched every episode and is crazy about it. I’ll add that to my list of shows I absolutely must see.

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5. Pride and Prejudice (1995). This is a very old favourite which I haven’t watched in years and years. It was my first introduction to the world of the period drama, at the tender age of six. Of course, back then I couldn’t understand a thing that was said. Everything had to be explained to me (the pause button dragged a 6-hour-long series into weeks of discussing and rewinding). But after reading the novel (one of my favourites and so beautifully written) and watching the 2005 film (which a lot of people hate but I actually love) I feel like this story is so familiar to me that it is woven into my past. I experience rather severe nostalgia whenever I revisit this tale, and I must commit another 6 hours of my life to rewatching the 1995 classic (I have no doubt it will surface many memories, as I watched it constantly throughout my childhood).

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6. Northanger Abbey (2007). (And onto films.) This is my favourite movie. I’ve watched it so many times that I know almost every line. I can’t tell you exactly why I love it so much, but somehow it resonates with me in a way I really couldn’t explain. This film was my introduction to the brilliant Carey Mulligan and the stunning Felicity Jones, and they are two of the reasons I love this film so much. That and the setting, the story, the romance, the intrigue, the music. It really is a wonderful film.

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7. The Importance of Being Earnest (2002). One of the funniest and wittiest movies I’ve ever seen and based on the absolutely genius work of Oscar Wilde. What couldn’t you love about this movie? The hilarious script, the wonderfully humurous music, the beautiful sets, the talented actors (who include Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Dame Judi Dench and Frances O’Connor) all make for a masterpiece of cinema. This is another of my most favourite films (possibly my second favourite … but there is still some debate in my mind, I just love film too much to decide!).

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8. Little Women (1994). Another old favourite and another movie I can recite many of the lines to (or could at least). It also happens to be one of my favourite books and stars one of my favourite actors – Winona Ryder. I also love Susan Sarandon and Claire Danes in this, but what I really love about this movie is the story. The tale of a family, and their love for each other. It’s a tale of bravery, love, kindness and friendship. And of course the sets are beautiful (as you may remember, I’m a winter kind of girl and this movie always thrills me in that regard). And every time I watch it I will Jo and Laurie to make up and marry each other! It always seems terribly strange for Laurie to marry Amy …

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9. Sense and Sensibility (1995). Yet another Austen, but this one always makes me smile. As this post is getting dangerously long, I won’t go into why I love it, but it is (again) another old favourite of mine.

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