- Entertainment and Media
BBC History of England -- Learn by Watching BBC Movies and Shows
British History as Told by BBC Movies and Series Shows
If your knowledge of England's history is lacking but you're not interested in cracking a dull history book, watch BBC movies and series shows.
Learn about Great Britain from the numerous BBC hits that are based in fact. The variety of BBC television shows and movies that deal with British history is vast. The actors convincingly portray how people lived during the time which brings the stories to life.
Many BBC movies and shows are based on fiction books that were well read making the screen version an immediate hit as well.
Wives and Daughters - 1830s
Wives and Daughters was first a novel written by Elizabeth Gaskell. At the time of her death, the novel was incomplete (the final scene wasn't written) but was finished by Frederick Greenwood.
Novel written by Elizabeth Gaskell in 1865
Historical Events: Societal rather than major historical changes took place in one sheltered girl's life in Wives and Daughters.
Aired in the UK in 1999
Stars: Justine Waddell, Bill Paterson, Francesca Annis, Keeley Hawes, Tom Hollander
North and South - 1850s
The novel North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell is set mainly in the north of England in a fictional mill town that was based on Manchester. The title refers to the differences in England from the industrial north and the agricultural south in the mid 1800s.
One Amazon reviewer said that it was the best British period drama ever made.
Novel written by Elizabeth Gaskell in 1855
Historical Events: Cotton mill workers' strikes for fair wages, shorter hours, better conditions is central to the theme of this miniseries.
Aired in the UK in 2004
Stars: Daniela Denby-ashe, Richard Armitage, Sinead Cusack, Tim Pigott-Smith
Lark Rise to Candelford - Mid 1890s
Lark Rise to Candleford was first a book before it became a BBC series. Flora Thompson's semi-autobiographical novel was first published in 1939. The BBC series ran for four seasons, from 2008 to 2011.
Historical Events: Many changes started occurring during this time regarding mechanization of farming and movement from a rural to more urban life. A bicycle is introduced as a newfangled contraption for the postal workers to use.
Aired in the UK from 2008 to 2011.
Stars: Olivia Hallanan, Julia Sawalha, Claudie Blakely, Brendan Coyle, Mark Heap, John Dagleish
Any Human Heart - 1900s (Spans the Entire 20th Century)
"Never say you know the last word about any human heart...", quote from the book and movie.
William Boyd, who wrote the novel and the screenplay for this spectacular PBS production, asks and answers this question: How did a boy adrift on a placid river in Uruguay become a grizzled old man sorting through piles of boxes and books in an old country house in France? It's a fascinating ride!
Novel and screenplay written by William Boyd
Historical Events: Since this series spanned the whole of the 1900s, many major events were covered, notably World War II.
Aired 2010 in the UK, three-part TV series
Stars: Matthew MacFadyen, Jim Broadbent
The House of Eliott - 1910s and 1920s
The House of Eliott is a BBC drama featuring two sisters in stylish 1920s London. Beatrice and Evangaline Eliott, two beautiful sisters, struggle to the top of the fashion world.
Created by Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins of Upstairs, Downstairs fame
Set in London, England
Historical Events: The 9-day coal miners strike of 1926 impacted some characters on The House of Eliott. The infancy of the moving picture business is featured as one of the careers of Jack Maddox. He also has a career with the Labour Party.
Aired in the UK from 1991 to 1994.
Stars: Louise Lombard, Stella Gonet, Aden Gillett
Downton Abbey - 1910s and 1920s
Downton Abbey is the popular British drama that has just stared airing its third season here in the United States (Winter 2013). To say the show is popular is like saying Bates should be freed. (It's a given.)
Historical Events: Downton Abbey takes advantage of all of the big historical events of its time opening the series with the sinking of the Titantic in 1912. Other major events include women suffragettes and World War I.
Aired: in UK from 2010 to 2011. Season 3 has aired in Britain and is now airing in the U.S.
Stars: Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, Jim Carter, Dan Stevens, Michelle Docker, Laura Carmichael, Brendan Coyle
Lilies - 1920
Lilies is an original movie written by Heidi Thomas. The show's tagline was "Liverpool, 1920. Three girls on the edge of womanhood, a world on the brink of change."
Screenplay written by Heidi Thomas
Set in Liverpool, England
Historical Events: Post World War II Garston, a poor area of Liverpool, is portrayed realistically. Scarlet fever reared its ugly head. Immigration was touched upon (the local butcher was from Austria), as well as issues of eugenics, female emancipation, and homosexuality, which was then illegal.
Aired in the UK in 2007
Stars: Eithne Browne, Marie Critchley, Curtis Rivers, Barry McCormick, Georgia Taylor
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