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The 10 Rules for British Period Dramas on TV

I've cracked the code for you.

by
Hannah Sternberg

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June 23, 2014 - 7:00 am
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From Downton Abbey to Call the Midwife, British TV has been on fire lately — and American audiences are burning for more. If you’re an incurable addict like me, you’ve probably noticed a few trends, however. In my mind, they contribute to the comfortable familiarity of the British period drama — you might not know where the next plot twist will take you, but you always know where it’s all going in the end. I’ve cracked the code so you don’t have to. Probably a verbatim copy of the rules handed out to producers and writers once they pass their British TV No Spoilers Security Clearance, here are my 10 Rules for British Period Dramas on TV.

Be warned: that means pretty much every piece of this blog post is a spoiler.

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All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
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Stopped watching "Call the Midwife" after Season 2's pro-abortion episode.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment

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16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
What is the relevance of the Mean Girls clip, which is an American comedy set in the present? The text led me to expect a clip that mentioned eclampsia.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dowton Abbey is interminable...rather watch Monarch of the Glen, or Inspector Morse.

Edit - even Ashes to Ashes. Much better Brit-flick. Are You Being Served or Keeping Up Appearances too. Ab-Fab.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't watch Downton Abbey. Didn't watch Upstairs Downstairs. As an American, I'm not as titillated by whole class thing as the Brits seem to be. It's in their history, in their blood - not in mine.

However, I got hooked on British period dramas the first time I saw Dickens of London on Masterpiece Theater. That was in the early 70s. Since then, I've followed...let's see...I, Claudius; various Robin Hoods, King Arthurs, and Ivanhoes (or is that Ivanhi?); Brother Cadfael; Tom Brown's Schooldays; Richard Sharpe; Horatio Hornblower; Kidnapped; Danger UXB; Foyle's War (starring the delectably named Honeysuckle Weeks); All Creatures Great and Small; Sherlock Holmes; Hercule Poirot; Jeeves & Wooster (not a drama but it deserves mention); George Gently and probably a few more I can't recall.

The Brits tend to do history right, even when it's fictional.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've been watching "Danger UXB" on YouTube. They still had old-fashioned testosterone back in those days. I also love the ethnic and regional accents. Will Shakespeare is given credit for using the first stock ethnic characters in English drama (Henry V: Captains Fluellen {Welsh}, Macmorris, {Irish}, Jamy {Scot}.

I was a kid when it first played on Mawsterpiece Theatre but I'm making up for lost time.

I'm also reading R.F. Delderfield's "To Serve Them All My Days" having grooved on the series back in the day. I guess I'll have to hunt down "A Town Like Alice" in my own good time.

Hard to believe both of these were actually advertised on bus stop posters.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
A loyal American fan of Neville Shute Norway here: "A Town Like Alice" is well-worth the hunt. However, and this will come as no surprise, there were several scenes in the production that were the opposite of what happened in the book, which I found damned annoying. Nevertheless---a great series.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Recent enthusiasm for Downton by my peers has me responding "But I saw this already saw this back when it was called Upstairs, Downstairs. And, to back that up for my own sake, I've been looking at Upstairs, Downstairs again via Amazon Prime streaming. Picking up a lot more now that I'm no longer a ten year old.

BTW, in addition to the ones Monster from the Id cited (especially I, Claudius because a story that ends with an awkward republican's replacement by a destructive narcissist seems relevant lately) I would also check out Private Schulz, which was a farce that came out about the same time as UXB.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
And all the men are metrosexual British beta males who barely have enough testosterone to grow a beard.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
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