Frocks and bodices: BBC period dramas

I love a good period drama, be it TV series or film. I love the frocks and a glimpse into times past. I especially like dramas that are based on books from authors like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. I was delighted when I found hours of gems on Access Video. There is gold mine of period dramas on this video streaming service you can access with your library card/PIN, from the masters of this genre, the BBC. Here are just a few great examples I found:

Jane Austen

  • Emma
    Beautiful, clever, and rich Emma Woodhouse is convinced she is good at matchmaking after her older sister and her governess both marry suitable husbands. No matter that as Mr Knightley drily observes, in reality, she had nothing to do with these relationships. Fresh and funny, this perceptive adaptation, featuring a stellar cast, brings Jane Austen's comic masterpiece to life.
  • Sense and Sensibility
    Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve when she falls in love with the charming but unsuitable John Willoughby, ignoring her sister Elinor's warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Elinor, sensitive to social convention, struggles to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Will the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love?

Charles Dickens

  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood
    Charles Dickens tragically died before he completed The Mystery of Edwin Drood. In this bold and refreshing take on the novel, acclaimed screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes imagines how the story might have ended. It is 1842 and local choirmaster John Jasper hides a dark secret that plagues his dreams. Jasper is obsessed with the beautiful Rosa, who is engaged to his beloved orphan nephew Edwin Drood.
  • Great Expectations
    A raw and passionate adaptation of one of Dickens' finest novels starring Ray Winstone, Gillian Anderson and Douglas Booth. A terrifying encounter on the marshes with an escaped convict and a summons by the mysterious Miss Havisham are enough to change orphan Pip's life forever. Part thriller, part mystery, this is an epic tale of obsession, corruption, revenge, redemption and forgiveness.
  • Little Dorrit
    This gripping series by Andrew Davies brings to life Dickens's powerful story of struggle and hardship in 1820s London. When Arthur Clennam returns to England after many years abroad, his curiosity is piqued by the presence in his mother's house of a young seamstress, Amy Dorrit. The cold and forbidding Mrs Clennam isn't usually given to charity, so why has she made an exception in taking on Amy?
  • Oliver Twist
    A gripping and emotionally powerful adaptation of this popular Dickens story. Oliver is born into a life of poverty and misfortune, deciding he wants more and sets out for London. There he meets the Artful Dodger, Nancy, Fagin and the boys and gets the first warm welcome of his life - unaware that this kindness requires its own type of payment to be collected by the evil Bill Sykes.
  • Bleak House
    This film adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel about the Victorian London legal system presents the beautiful Lady Dedlock who nurses a dark secret in her past, and the merciless lawyer Tulkinghorn who seeks to uncover it. Then there is the generous John Jarndyce, struggling with his past and his two attractive young wards Richard and Ada.

More great author adaptations

  • An Inspector Calls
    Emotionally powerful and sharply relevant, this is a stylish adaptation of J.B. Priestley’s timeless masterpiece. An Inspector Calls is both an enthralling mystery and a scathing critique of a hypocritical, class-obsessed society. Set in 1912, it vividly evokes a thriving industrial age built on crippling social inequality. Taking place over the course of a single night, this taut, affecting and ultimately tragic story, centres on the prosperous Birling family. 
  • Turn of the Screw
    A hauntingly atmospheric and star-studded adaptation of Henry James' classic Gothic horror story. A young, inexperienced governess is hired to look after two small children abandoned by their uncle, following the death of their parents. Unsettled by glimpses of ghostly figures that only she can see, she quickly believes that something malevolent is stalking the children in her care.
  • Tess of the D'Urbervilles
    A passionate, sensual and very modern version of Thomas Hardy's infamous novel, combining young, upcoming acting talent with recognisable and much-loved faces. When the beautiful and innocent Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D'Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting the manipulative Alec proves to be her downfall.
  • Jane Eyre
    The classic saga of Jane Eyre is brought vibrantly to life in this lavish and complex adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's much-loved novel. After a wretched childhood as an orphan, Jane Eyre accepts the position of governess at Thornfield Hall. She soon falls in love with the brooding owner, Mr Rochester. Jane gradually wins his heart but, before they can find happiness as man and wife, they must first overcome the dark secrets of his past.

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