History on TV

Cbklegolas I love a good period drama on TV. Or a so-so one, if it comes to that. I don't like the bad ones, but I'll probably watch them anyway. And for me, it's mostly pre-20th century. The History Channel in Canada was a disappointment because so often it was 20th century stuff. I know there's more of it, but for me, they could have scraped the barrel for every bit of truly historical fictional TV and had a committed viewer.

Here in the UK there's Yesterday, which is much the same, but does run more old period drama.

(It gave me a zen moment when we were visiting in March and I switched on the TV to see the message "Yesterday will return tomorrow at 5am." I sat in rapt contemplation. :))

Looking at their web site I found this fun quiz to find your historical hero.

There's probably still time to snap up a Christmas DVD, so I thought I'd seek out the best historical fiction TV any of us can remember. I started with the Wenches. They each gave me their suggestions and I was going to post their messages, but there was a lot of overlap so I'm going to list them with just an anonymous snippet of comment where appropriate.

Praed Robin of Sherwood, with Michael Praed as Robin."The series had an interesting  blend of mysticism and realism, including a Jewish family in one episode, for  example  Lovely and lyrical."  "there's nothing to top "Robin of Sherwood," complete with that fabulous Clannad soundtrack."

I found this video which seems to be of outtakes. Lots of Michael, often looking relaxed and happy. I switched off the soundtrack, which wasn't Clannad (which might not have been suitable) but Abba's Waterloo, which definitely wasn't!Blackadder

Blackadder with Rowan Atkinson. And occasionally with Hugh Laurie as here, not quite like house! "with their  irreverent take on history, their sharp observation and their witty one liners are comedy classics for me." "History made funny AND believable – that's an accomplishment!"

The Tudors "is spectacular, though one needs stamina, and a lot of forgiveness history-wise, to keep up. "

Ross Poldark Based on Winston Graham's books about a Cornish family in the 18th century.ROBIN ELLIS as Ross Poldark 
ANGHARAD REES as Demelza Poldark.

Click here for the official page.

Westerns. "Totally unhistorical, of course, but the romance and drama and wide open spaces appealed to my childish imagination " Maverick. The Wild, Wild, Wild West.Bonanza "soap on the ranch."

The long-form BBC Pride and Prejudice.Foyle

Foyles War, "the wonderful WWII crime series, with the even more wonderful actor, Michael Kitchen. He manages to convey everything with the most subtle facial movement, especially in times of deepest drama." And the great news is that there'll be more. Three more episodes in 2010. Long may it continue!

Sharpe Sharpe, based on Bernard Cornwell's books,  with Sean Bean as the up-from-the-gutter army officer in the Napoleonic Wars. Sharpe's Peril was shown last year, but there will probably be no more.

Upstairs Downstairs, life in Edwardian London. How many series did it go through?

Bleak House "very high quality, and the acting was superb."

The Forsyte Saga. "Stumbled upon a marathon re-playing of The Forsyte Saga one night, and sat transfixed until the wee hours of the morning."Cadfael

Caefael Wonderful medieval who-dunnit, based on the books by Ellis Peters. "I loved the sense of  place and the mysteries, and there was always a nice little romance,  too. " "how excellent they were"

Onedin I have fond memories of the Onedin Line, about a ship owning family in Liverpool. I particularly liked Anne Stallybrass as the wife and felt the series lost its way when her character died. Of course I loved that it was an arranged marriage story in the beginning. 🙂

Of courseCovcross there have been some programs that were so ridiculous that they were almost not worth watching, even for addicts of historical TV. Here are a few that come to mind.

 ROAR, Covington Cross, and for some, The Tudors.

Just about all of the picks above are British productions (and two of the three duds not.) How about some from other countries. Actually I strongly remember a French series from, probably, the sixties called Les Rois Maudit I see it's been remade.

I recommend following that link to the promo because it's great watching for medieval fans. I'll have to see if it's available with subtitles. The one I remember was in black and white, of course, which made it very gritty watching. Les Rois Maudit mean The Cursed Kings, BTW, and refers to the curse supposedly put on them by the Grand Master of the Templars.

So, which of these are your favourites, and do you have any other treasures to share with us? Are any of the above treats you haven't enjoyed yet that you'd like to see in your stocking on Christmas Day.

I just received copies of the anthology Chalice of Roses. I'll randomly pick the authors of two comCorsmments to receive copies. One from North America, one from anywhere else. You can read the opening of my story here.

So share your treats!

I'll draw on Christmas Eve to give everyone a chance.