Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Whatever shall we do?

Downton Abbey will end next Sunday but the hours spent with our friends across the pond does not have to end.
Here are a few recommendations I have recorded to my Tivo (from Masterpiece Theater)  or own on DVD that keep me jolly all the year round.

Call the Midwife

Source: google.com.au via Gi on Pinterest

I watched Call the Midwife this fall.  It is sweet and gritty and compassionate.
You will fall in love with Chummy, I am sure, as Melinda and I did!

The person who chose the music did a jolly good job!

Grade: A

Upstairs Downstairs (2011)

I watched this new production of Upstairs Downstairs this fall too.

Source: google.ca via MaryAnne on Pinterest

This one is interesting.  Not as genteel as the others.  It's kind of dark.
But it is classic BBC.

Grade: B-

Cranford (2007)

For a while Cranford was recommended to me.  I kept catching it on public television in the middle somewhere.  It was hard to jump in and care about the characters like that.
This delightful series needs to be watched from the beginning, listened to carefully.  The quiet lives lived in Cranford are sweet and silly and old fashioned.
I watched it this fall and have watched it twice or three times thru already. (Saved it to my Tivo)

You can see quite a bit of Cranford on Youtube.  Here is the beginning...

Grade: A

Return to Cranford (2009)

While not as perfect as Cranford, this one is fun to watch too!
And look!  It's Mary!

By the way, you will have fun seeing the cast of Downton Abbey here and there in many of these shows.

Grade B+

Larkrise to Candleford

This one I am just now watching on Saturday nights.  Sadly I have not seen all of them, I don't think.  I need to look for episode one.
Bates is in this one and I am looking forward to it each week.  He is very proud.

This centers around the people who live in the village.  The working folk;  farmers, masons, clock makers, postal workers.

So good.

Grade: A

Jane Eyre (2006)
with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stevens

Guess who Toby Stevens mother is?

Dame Maggie Smith!!!

Source: google.com via Rebekah on Pinterest

My very favorite Jane Eyre.  Beautiful. Passionate. Wonderful

Grade: A+

Persuasion (2007)
with Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones
Jane Austen

Part One.

I didn't like Persuasion the first time I saw it.  It was with different actors.  But his one...I have watched 15 times at least.  It is recorded on my  Tivo and go to it over and over.  The story unwraps like no other.
Ann's father makes Lord Grantham look wise and prudent.
Captain Wentworth.  Oh, Captain Wentworth.
This movie ends in the most perfect way. I am smitten with it.

"Nothing can persuade me otherwise."

Grade: A+

Pride and Prejudice (1995)
with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle
Jane Austen

My first love.

This is simply the best.

Grade: A+

Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Emma, Kate and Hugh

So. so. good.

Grade A+

Emma (1996)
Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam

This is a silly romp and is pretty to look at.

Grade: B-

Little Dorrit (2008)

This gritty and grimy and woe is me.
It is Dickens afterall.

I got caught up in the story and watched the whole thing on PBS last summer.
If you like Dickens, you will like it!

Grade: B

The next few I will list...I have seen them perhaps twice but do not remember them very well.
They are highly regarded.  I remember liking them.

North and South
Wives and Daughters
Vanity Fair

Just remembered

Mansfield Park (liked a lot)
The Young Victoria (very fine)
The Duchess (this will break your heart)
Miss Potter (very good)
Enchanted April (very good)
Tea with Mussolini (loved this)
The Vicor of Dibley (hilarious)

I know these movies will make you happy.
They will keep you busy for a while.

I adore them.

Encourage one another,


  1. Oh such a list.... I will add that to my "what to do when the shows I watch go into reruns" list....

  2. Lots to check out here; thank you so much for putting this list together Donna.

    I saw Call the Midwife in yesterday's comments and checked my local listings--Season 1 is to be rebroadcast weekly starting in March until they begin Season 2, so I will be tuning in!

    Loved Cranford but have only seen it once. Even so, I still remember the scene where they eat the oranges. Haven't seen Return to Cranford.

    I can't speak to the version of Persuasion you've highlighted (not my favorite Austen work) but do enjoy the P&P and S&S versions listed. I also like the version of Emma with Kate Beckinsale.

    Didn't care for Little Dorrit--very dim (lack of light) and I find that depressing scene after scene, especially when the story itself is "gritty and grimy" as you put it. I realize they are doing their best to be true to the period, but I'm a gal who needs her sunshine :)

    We do not have Netflix but will check our library for the others you've listed. Didn't think to check You Tube so appreciate your bringing that to our attention.

    Lots of sunshine and some melting going on here today-hope your day is bright too!

    1. Thanks for the info on Call the Midwife. My daughter read the book and is anxious to see it.

    2. Let us repair to our rooms and eat our fruit in solitude.


      One of the most oft-quoted shows around our house. (Cranford, that is...)

    3. This is a regular in our quote repertoire, Steph!


    4. Anonymous2:14 PM

      Donna, the video snippet of Cranford that you gave to us has me excited for more. Judi D. is the BEST! How did we miss Cranford? jep

    5. The cow in the pajamas? Bird cage?

      And yes, the orange scene is awesome.

    6. I've been trying to find Call The Midwife everywhere....internets, pbs, netflix. Sooo, thank you!! I will be able to catch up before the new season starts.

    7. Julie4:27 PM

      I forgot about the cow in the pajamas; I must watch Cranford again!

  3. Anonymous11:20 AM

    Such treasures! I especially look forward to watching Call the Midwife and was happy to read Julie's scoop on the rebroadcast of Season 1!

    P&P and S&S are two of my all-time favorites. I completely agree with you that Gwyneth's Emma was light and fluffy. But when Molly was a little girl, it's the first Austen we watched together and she enjoyed it so much she was hooked. Now she loves all things Austen like her mama. :)

    Did you see "Becoming Jane" with Anne Hathaway? We really enjoyed that one.

    Mary Z

    1. I haven't. Maybe I'll watch it today!!!

    2. I really enjoyed Becoming Jane, too.

    3. I saw it in the theater with my daughter. Such a sad story.

    4. Anonymous12:02 PM

      Becoming Jane is a good movie. We liked it. jep

  4. Hello! I have seen both Persuasions (with Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds), plus the BBC version you prefer.

    Donna, I actually like Amanda & Ciaran's version better :-/ Even though Rupert Penry-Jones is much better looking.

    I love Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant in Sense & Sensibility, but BBC's version of S & S with Hattie Moran is very good too. And Edward Ferrars is Dan Stevens (Matthew!)

    I mentioned yesterday in the comments that I've got Call the Midwife (5 episodes!) on my Kindle ready to watch when I fly to Alaska in March :-)

    Plus 2 of Larkrise to Candleford.

    I tell you, these British programs are like comfort food for my mind.

    1. Anonymous2:11 PM

      "Comfort food for my mind" what a great turn of phrase Susan! jep

    2. mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, Downton Abbey :-)

  5. I'm always looking for great BBC productions to add to my list. I haven't watched Cranford or Little Dorrit. Looking forward to seeing them now.
    North and South is a favorite of mine. I found it last summer and have watched it three times. That led me to the Robin Hood series with Richard Armitage. My son and I watched that whole series last summer and hated to see it end. It had me crying like a baby a few times.

  6. Anonymous11:46 AM

    What a FANTASTIC list!! I can't wait to watch some of them.

    And, like so many other QLers, I have loved coming here on Monday morning to share the DA experience almost as much as I have enjoyed watching Downton Abbey!

    Thanks, Donna!
    Mary from Wheaton

  7. A while back I went on a British period drama binge and LOVED Persuasion! I also watched Northanger Abbey, which I also loved.
    I need to get my hands on Call the Midwife. Hoping it is available on DirecTV on demand when we get it.
    Thanks for the list!

  8. Anonymous12:06 PM

    What a charming list, thank you! I must now go to Netflix and get in the queue for the ones we have not seen. The BBC and Masterpiece Theater know how to do it right. Naturally I have read most of the books these are from...who would have guessed, right?
    love and prayers, jep

  9. I really like Call the Midwife; adore the music and performances. I read the first Call the Midwife book and the show is fairly accurate to it, but cheers things up a bit. There are uplifting moments in the book, but many stories of despair. I've ordered book 2, but might not be able to read it if that trend continues...but will try!

    Love Jane Austen and watch every adaptation, but some of the BBC's from the 1970s. My favorite adaptations are the P&P, S&S, Emma (both), and P from the mid-1990s, most of which you also listed.

    Thanks for sharing such a good list and starting the conversation!


  10. So why does Britain have so many television series set during their historical periods and America does not?? We had so many good ones in past times but now all our shows are crime dramas or reality shows. What is up with that anyway??

    1. Here it is in a nutshell.
      American television. MONEY talks. Nothing is on television that does not make money.
      English television (bbc). Quality first.

      In fact, the Downton Abbey people are shocked by the huge success of DA in America.

      We lovers of Jane Austen and all things British....are not surprised.

    2. Anonymous4:58 PM



  11. You listed several of my favorites, Donna. We own Cranford and Larkrise to Candleford. Larkrise, in particular, has several episodes that are so profound. Love it. We are quite smitten with Tom Hiddleston, so the newer Cranford is a favorite.

    I agree with Susan re: Persuasion, but I think I have rattled on about this opinion before. I just think Amanda Root is INSPIRED in her version of Anne Elliot. But Rupert is a fine looking man. I confess to crying when he died in MI-5 (-:

    Have you seen Bleak House, Donna? If anyone didn't like the gritty nature of Little Dorrit, this wouldn't suit, but we love Dickens. And Bleak House is a great story.

    The Elizabeth Gaskell stories you listed are favorites, too. But I haven't seen Vanity Fair. Must remedy. Bates (Brendan Coyle) is in North and South, too. Nicholas Higgins...remember?

    I look forward to seeing Call of the Midwife, too. Well, and Downton (-:

    Donna, did you see the most recent Emma with Jonny Lee Miller and Romola Garai? We have very vehement discussions about the different versions of Emma...which Emma plays it right (I think we all agree that Gwyneth wins, hands down) and especially who plays Mr. Knightley properly. I vacillate between Jeremy Northam and Jonny Lee Miller. But the ending of the Miller/Garai one seems perfect to me. "Oh, the seaside!" The music makes me cry!

    I guess you have confirmed that we will survive after DA is over. Maybe you can have BBC Monday and let us know what you will be reviewing...since we all enjoy spouting our opinions!


    1. OOOOOooooo....BBC Monday! Perhaps we shall have a Call the Midwives club!

    2. Anonymous2:14 PM

      OOO!!!! I'm in for BBC Mondays!!!

      Mary from Wheaton (I must get one of these accounts so I can stop posting as Anonymous!)

    3. Yay!!! I was waiting for you to suggest this, Donna. CTM Monday's.

  12. Anonymous12:47 PM

    Donna, I have seen all the movies/series on your list and absolutely love them all! I am a hopeless lover of anything British. May I add a movie to your list? One of my all-time favorites is Enchanted April, a movie about four Londoner women who rent a chateau in Italy for a period of time to get away from it all and analyze the relationships in their lives. I have to re-watch it about once a year because I love it so much. With a cast that includes Miranda Richardson and Joan Plowright how can you go wrong? My very favorite way to relax is to watch one of the movies on your list, wrapped up in a cozy afghan with a cup of tea or coffee.
    Debbie Z.

    1. Anonymous12:50 PM

      P.S. I just realized I HAVEN'T watched them all. I haven't seen Call the Midwife yet. I'm glad I have something to look forward to!
      Debbie Z.

    2. Oh Yes. Enchanted April is lovely.

      Which reminds me of Tea with Mussolini also with Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench!
      I love this movie!

    3. LIKE! (and don't forget Cher ;-)

      I have only seen Enchanted April once - note to self: watch again

    4. Anonymous1:27 PM

      I also have to add the movies Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown and Ladies in Lavender. Judi Dench is in both and Maggie Smith stars with her in Ladies in Lavender. They are so fabulous and I would rather watch them than most young actresses I can think of. I agree with you, loved Tea with Mussolini, too.
      Debbie Z.

    5. Just recently saw Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown. Really liked it.

      A film that's been out quite awhile set in more modern times, but I love it: Calendar Girls

  13. I watched the full series of Larkrise this fall. (It's streaming on amazon, free with prime). I liked the earliest seasons best... But I thought of it often during this season of DA because of it's take on the other side of manor life, I suppose. I liked it a lot.

    Emma Thompson's S & S is a life fave, as is Colin's P & P. I'm married to a true Anglophile, so our home, our cars, the music we love --- it all reflects a deep love for this history. I think that's why I love the shows so much. But Cranford. Oh dear Cranford. I can get weepy at just the thought of it. It is SUCH. A special story. We have the boxed set of the Gaskill stories with North and South, Wives and Daughters, and Cranford. Absolutely wonderful.

    1. Judi Dench is just so sweet and wonderful in Cranford. Her whole gang of ladies ... love them.

    2. My Seattle son calls Curt "Par" after watching Larkrise. I love it. (But I'm glad I'm still Mom and not Mar!)

  14. Anonymous1:21 PM

    This list is fabulous! I've seen all these except Call the Midwife. A few other British shows I've enjoyed on Netflix...Gosford Park (another Julian Fellowes creation), Land Girls, Foyle's War, Birdsong, Small Island, Northanger Abbey, Bleak House, Midsomer Murders, Inspector Lewis, and any of the Catherine Cookson films.

  15. Downton must be drawing so many new viewers to PBS - I'm glad that they at least will spend the money on quality programs. I was so disappointed to watch Discovery, History Channel, TLC, and now even the National Geographic Channel turn into little besides reality shows. I'm thankful that Netflix has so many of the wonderful documentaries and shows that I was fascinated by as a child, I only hope they don't disappear completely!

    Has anyone ever watched As Time Goes By, with Judi Dench? It is a dated but charming little BBC sitcom. My PBS channel still shows it in the wee hours one or two nights a week - one of my mom's and my favorites.

    Love your list - some new, some old favorites :-) I cried my heart out over Miss Potter. Netflix recommended Bright Star to me based on my love of all things Austen, it's about Keats and Fanny Brawne.

    1. I do love Miss Potter so much - and I'm not a big Renee Z. fan. It is precious. Bright Star ... gorgeous.

    2. I have all the videos, yes, video tapes of As Time Goes By. Anything with Judi Dench is well worth the time to watch. She is an amazing actress and quite the comedian also.

  16. Oh yes. I forgot about Bright Star. I felt it was beautifully styled and filmed. It was extremely slow from what I remember.

    1. I wondered where Bright Star was on your list. You know I rented that movie long ago and it wouldn't play on my ancient machine. I have yet to see it.

  17. Janice1:27 PM

    I really enjoyed Zen and Sherlock last season. Sherlock talks so fast!

  18. Thank you thank you thank you!

  19. The Brits have a knack for making wonderful movies and television series. I've seen about all those you listed. We just signed up for Netflix on Direct TV and there are a lot of these movies on there and I am having a feast of British cinema. Just saw North and South and really loved it. Bates was in that one also. I think because England is such a small country the same actors and actresses are in many of their movies. I love looking for familiar faces in each movie.

  20. Anonymous4:40 PM

    Thought of another good film for Anglophiles - Young Victoria with Emily Blunt.

    Mary Z

  21. S & S: my all time favorite movie. I start crying *in anticipation* at the end of the movie. I made my son watch with me and started sniffing. He was astonished. Why are you crying, Mom? Wait, son, and you will find out. :)

    I have yet to watch Cranford, because I have to read the book first. Well now.

    I read Twelve Babies on a Bike which sounds very close to Call the Midwife.

    Another series that is great fun to watch is Jill Scott in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Unfortunately it was only carried for one season, but my daughter-in-law watched it straight through when the kids were in bed.

    Fun post, Donna!

  22. YES to No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency! Jill Scott was awesome :)

  23. Larkrise to Candleford has been recommended to me over and over by a friend. I will have to break down and buy it. Your grades on these wonderful series are spot on. I agree and could watch most of these over and over and over and over. . .

  24. Larkrise to Candleford has been recommended to me over and over by a friend. I will have to break down and buy it. Your grades on these wonderful series are spot on. I agree and could watch most of these over and over and over and over. . .

  25. Thank you thank you thank you! I'm feeling better already!!!!

  26. Don't forget Gosford Park. Obvious precursor to DA, written by Fellowes!

    1. I hated Gosford Park. Turned it off after about 15 min.
      Sorry :(

  27. Anonymous11:34 AM

    Hi, I am lucky enough to live across the pond, we love Call the Midwife, second season is a few weeks in here and does not disappoint. Bit grittier and darker but good.They have just announced there will definitely be a third which is good news. My Dad lived in that part of London in the 40's and 50's so it is a real history lesson for me. The actress who plays Chummy, has her own sitcom called Miranda, very silly but funny and old fashioned in a good way.

  28. I've been watching Monarch of the Glen on Netflix. It's a lot of silly fun with a Scottish brogue. I also really loved William and Mary (and of course Doc Martin). None of these are historical dramas but enjoyable modern British tv.

  29. Tks for your recommendation, I always can find some useful staffs in your blog.

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