Best British Costume Dramas

Many of the best British TV shows are costume dramas. These shows are expensive to make but usually much-loved and in the modern era of DVDs and Blu-ray sales, these shows are more cost-effective than they have ever been. However, some costume dramas stand out above the rest and the following five shows are (arguably) the best British TV costume dramas of all time.


Upstairs Downstairs

“Upstairs Downstairs” has greater staying power than any other costume drama. It was first broadcast in 1971 and the new season is set to hit British TV screens in early 2012. OK, so the show was on hiatus for 35 years but nevertheless, it is without doubt one of the Best British TV shows of all time. Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins created the show and both ladies have prominent roles in the current version. Jean Marsh as Rose Buck is one of the best known TV characters of all time and when you add Keeley Hawes to the mix you have a sure fire winner.


Our Mutual Friend

This adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ tale was broadcast in 1998. At the time the BBC assembled an impressive line up of stars such as one time Doctor Who (literally) Paul McGann, “Porridge” tough guy Peter Vaughan and “Brookside” star Anna Friel. The rest of the cast was made up of less well-known actors such as David Morrissey, Keeley Hawes, Timothy Spall and Steven Mackintosh. In short, watching this brilliantly put together show is like flicking through the pages of a Who’s Who of British entertainment.

Casualty 1909

It is hard to think of a more authentic looking costume drama than “Casualty 1909” or its similarly titled forerunners. The stories featured in each episode are based on historical accounts of cases dealt with at the London hospital during the early twentieth century. You really felt as if you had stepped back in time when you watched the show and it did not hurt to have talents such as David Troughton, Cherie Lunghi and Charity Wakefield in the cast.


Pride and Prejudice

There have been numerous adaptations of “Pride and Prejudice” down the years and while most were much of a muchness the one that really stood out was the 1995 version. Andrew Davies, who has a hand in most the best British TV shows, wrote the script for it and Oscar winner Colin Firth was the star of the show.


Brideshead Revisited

The oldest of the shows to make the top five list for the best British TV costume dramas ever but as popular now as it was when it was first aired in 1981. The fact the story was set in Oxford meant that the set designer did not have to work hard to make it look authentic. Jeremy Irons, John Gielgud, Claire Bloom and Anthony Andrews were the biggest stars among the talented cast.


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