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30 Best Period Dramas to Watch for an Escape

The Forsyte Saga

by Elena Nicolaou and Cassie Hurwitz | Oprah Daily | August 23, 2022

From elaborate costumes to sumptuous storylines (and the strong desire to live in a time other than the present)—there is so much to love about period dramas. With the push of a button, these TV series and movies act as instant portals into other eras. The only question is: Where do you want to time-travel first?

Each of these shows and films explores an era in history, through the lenses of both the upper class and everyday people. For Tudor buffs, there’s a series that ventures into the early days of King Henry VIII’s notorious rule—through the eyes of his first wife. Regency fans have a movie that looks at what life was like for a young Black woman in a wealthy family during that era; then, of course, there’s Bridgerton. Many period dramas are based in this era, the time of Shakespeare and the Tudors, or the 18th century, but we’ve also included a few that take place in the 20th century, too, like a series that chronicles working in a hospital at the turn of the century to a 1950s drama about the dangers of racism.

Some stories come from real-life events, while others are adapted from classic novels or are completely fictional glimpses into life during that particular era. And, fear not, there are quite a few sweeping romances. We’ve also included Spanish-language picks, since period dramas are hardly limited by geographic region. Here are some of our favorite period dramas streaming on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Starz, and beyond.

#17
The Forsyte Saga (2002-2003)

Based on the Nobel Prize-winning work of John Galsworthy, this 10-part series follows England’s wealthy Forsyte family from the 1870s to the 1920s. It’s a highbrow show with soap-opera-worthy plots. Starring: Damian Lewis, Rupert Graves, Gina McKee. Watch on Amazon Prime here

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Categories Print Media Wolf Hall

Underrated British TV Shows You Need To Watch

Wolf Hall

by Richard Chachowski | Looper | July 20, 2022

On the surface, one might immediately think that British television is very similar to any American TV program you can find on cable or currently streaming. However, as anyone who’s seen a decent amount of British and American series can tell you, the two couldn’t be further apart.

Known for their strong surrealistic elements, dry wit, and dramatically small number of episodes compared to American TV series, British TV shows are practically a genre unto themselves. Whether they encompass historical dramas, absurdist comedies, or sitcoms set in World War II, you know without question when you’re tuning into a TV show from across the pond, judging from its sense of humor and content alone.

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Categories Fashion and Style Print Media Wolf Hall

Bulging Codpieces and Multi-Colored Tights

Renaissance Men’s Fashion Today

by Maria H. Loh | Art News | June 29, 2022

Certain men’s fashions have always been controversial. In 2014, Mark Rylance, a star of the BBC’s popular sixteenth-century TV drama Wolf Hall, told reporters that he thought “the codpieces are too small.” The actor, who played chief minister Thomas Cromwell, protagonist of the Hilary Mantel best seller on which the series was based, speculated that the sartorial edit was perhaps a directive from the show’s American producers, who feared that historically accurate codpieces might shock their transatlantic viewers. Indeed, if you look at any number of Renaissance portraits of Henry VIII, you might be immediately taken aback by the elaborate mound of shimmering white silk that bursts forth and rises up conspicuously between the king’s legs. Damian Lewis, who had the monarch’s role in the show, explained to the Los Angeles Times that these unusual attachments were,

“… a symbol of your virility, your derring-do, your sense of adventure. They were encouraged, it was a fashion, and Henry liked them.”

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Categories Print Media Wolf Hall

5 Tempting Tudor Dramas to Watch Right Now

Wolf Hall: Happy Birthday Henry VIII

by Katy Kostakis | Paste Magazine | June 29, 2022

Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived. Gloriana. The Virgin Queen. Bloody Mary.

Just reading those words can instantly bring your mind to one of the most famous, scandalous, and formidable families to ever rule a nation. The powerful Tudor dynasty has long mesmerized and enthralled all who have come across their stories during history lessons. From the king who nabbed his crown against the odds to a long-awaited male heir who didn’t live past the age of 15, to the queen who defied all expectations and ruled for 45 years, their collective reign over England from 1485 to 1603 was chock full of warfare, religious reform, and treachery at a time where fealty, obedience, and adhering to the tenets of one’s social station literally meant life or death.

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Categories Print Media Wolf Hall

Hilary Mantel Hopeful Damian and Mark Rylance Will Return to Their Wolf Hall Roles

Henry and Cromwell

by Rebecca Jones | BBC News | May 20, 2021

Dame Hilary, 68, is a shrewd observer of political drama that spans the ages. “I think what my books have tried to show is that there is no life without politics,” she says.

She has been immersed in Tudor politics for more than 15 years, working on her Wolf Hall trilogy of historical novels about the plots and intrigues at the court of King Henry VIII and the rise and fall of his chief adviser Thomas Cromwell.

Dame Hilary has spent the past year writing the play of The Mirror and the Light herself. She says she wanted to “give it a go”.

But, perhaps surprisingly for a writer of 14 works of fiction and a memoir, she was not sure she could do it on her own.

“Although I’d written plays for radio… I’ve not written a whole stage play by myself. I felt my inexperience,” she admits. “I thought, ‘I need a collaborator.'”

Ben Miles, who starred as Cromwell in the Royal Shakespeare Company productions of Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring up the Bodies, suggested himself as “co-pilot” on the project.

The television adaptation of The Mirror and the Light is on its way too. “It is going ahead. It’s being written now, but delayed by Covid like everything else,” she says.

It is therefore unlikely to be on our screens before 2023. “It’s just a question of patience.” The previous BBC TV adaptation of the first two books – which was entitled Wolf Hall but brought together Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies – won two Bafta TV awards, and a Golden Globe.

She says she “would certainly hope” that Sir Mark Rylance, who played Cromwell in the BBC series and Damian Lewis, who appeared as Henry VIII, will be able to return to their roles, although “these are busy people with big schedules and it will all be a question of timing”.

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Categories Forsyte Saga Poll Print Media Wolf Hall

PBS Masterpiece Hopeful To Be Involved with BBC’s Wolf Hall – Jan 9, 2021

PBS Wants Damian Back for Wolf Hall

by Peter White | Deadline | January 8, 2021

PBS’ Masterpiece, which has been home to classic British dramas including Downton Abbey, Upstairs, Downstairs, Prime Suspect and the original House of Cards, turns 50 on January 10.

Susanne Simpson, an exec producer on series including Downton Abbey, took over running Masterpiece in November 2019, replacing Rebecca Eaton. She told Deadline that the success of the regal ITV drama, which ran for six seasons and ending in 2015, was a turning point for British dramas in the U.S. and it has now pivoted to ensure that it still has a pipeline of shows.

However, she is hopeful that PBS would be involved in the sequel to BBC’s Wolf Hall. Peter Kosminsky is working on the follow-up to Hilary Mantel’s book series, which published The Mirror and the Light last year, and hopeful of getting the original cast such as Damian Lewis back on board.

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Categories Forsyte Saga Poll Print Media Wolf Hall

Masterpiece (PBS/BBC) Favorites of a More Recent Vintage – Jan 8, 2021

Two for Damian: Wolf Hall and The Forsyte Saga

by Matthew Gilbert | Boston Globe | January 7, 2021

Here are some of my favorite Masterpiece shows, in no particular order. I have restricted the list to those that have aired in the past 25 years, which is why you won’t see the well-known classics, including I, Claudius, The Jewel in the Crown, House of Cards, Elizabeth R, or Prime Suspect.

Wolf Hall (2015)

Based on Hilary Mantel’s Henry VIII novels, the mesmerizing six-parter takes place from the point of view of the King’s most trusted advisor, Thomas Cromwell, played by a quietly sardonic Mark Rylance. This isn’t the bodice-ripping, horse-hopping likes of Showtime’s The Tudors; it’s elegant, downbeat, authentically lit, intensely acted, and clever and relevant when it comes to 16th-century politics. Damian Lewis is Henry, Jonathan Pryce is Cardinal Wolsey, and Claire Foy is Anne Boleyn.

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