It seems like everyone is addicted to Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge, Call the Midwife, or a combination of the three. With two of the three series ending this year, it’s hard times for anglophile TV fans—but don’t fret.
To help you through the lean TV times that are coming, I offer you five lesser known British TV series to binge watch, plus a bonus of two Australian period dramas!
5 British TV Series to Binge Watch
1. The House of Eliott
This oldie but goodie aired on the BBC from 1991-1994 and is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a British TV series to binge watch. The House of Eliott is a period drama set in 1920s London (and a bit in Paris). It tells the story of two sisters who are suddenly on their own after their father dies, leaving them in a precarious financial situation, and without an education. This three season drama follows Bea and Evie as they establish a successful dressmaking business, then a haute couture fashion house. It’s not Downton, but the drama, romance, and beautiful costumes won’t disappoint!
The complete series is available on DVD from Amazon.
2. The Paradise
While I couldn’t help but think The Paradise was just a cheap knock-off of Mr. Selfridge, I thoroughly enjoyed this show, mainly because of its beautiful costumes and whimsical sets. The Paradise, which is set in England’s first department store during 1870s, is based on Émile Zola’s novel Au bonheur des dames, and lasted only two seasons, from 2012–2013, before Mr. Selfridge killed it in the ratings. This show is a drama and love story (sometimes triangle), centered on the people who work and shop at The Paradise, with an emphasis on the Victorian upper class. Once Mr. Selfridge wraps in your market, The Paradise might be right up your British TV series to binge watch alley. Season 1 is on Amazon Prime. If you don’t have Prime, you can get a free 30-day trial here.
3. Our Zoo
Our Zoo is a BBC One period drama mini-series about the founding of Chester Zoo, which was sadly only ever planned to be six episodes. Our Zoo is based on the true story of George Mottershead, a WWI veteran suffering from PTSD who becomes obsessed with saving animals, and convinces his family to sell everything, buy a crumbling estate, and turn it into a cage-free zoo. This 1930s era series is a must see for period drama fans, and animal lovers who are looking for a British TV show to binge watch! It’s available on DVD for under $13 on Amazon (It says “European format” which probably means that US viewers would would have to watch it on a laptop… but that’s how I watch “TV” anyway, so NBD.)
If you’re a fan of Call the Midwife (or Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman), you might enjoy Jericho, an ITV period drama, starring Jessica Raine, who played midwife Jenny Lee in the show’s first three seasons. Here, Jessica plays Annie Quaintain, a recent widow who’s lost everything in repaying her late husband’s debts. Broke and with no prospects, Annie and her two children head for the 1870s shanty town of Jericho in the Yorkshire Dales where a viaduct is being built. Out of desperation, she opens a boarding house, offering food and lodging to railroad workers. This show has been criticized for being too much like a western, but I’ve been mourning the cancellation of Dr. Quinn since 1998, so this suits me down to the ground. The first season of eight episodes have aired, and I’m waiting with bated breath to see if its renewed for another season. Possibly a good choice if you’re looking for a more recent British TV series to binge watch :)
It’s available on DVD for around $7 on Amazon (Unfortunately, this is another one that US viewers would probably have to watch on a laptop.)
Now for something completely different! Trollied, also British slang for drunk, is a sitcom from Sky 1 set in Valco, a discount supermarket in northwest England. This show features a hilarious array of characters in all departments, and at all levels from cashier to owner, and each episode takes place during one supermarket workday. Every time I go grocery shopping in England, I always say, “OMG! It’s just like being in Valco.” It really is. An embarrassingly realistic British TV series to binge watch, there are currently five binge-worthy seasons of Trollied, and it looks like it will be back for a sixth season in 2016!
This one is also available from Amazon on DVD. (Unfortunately, US viewers would probably have to watch this one on a laptop.)
1. Love Child
Love Child, an Australian drama series from Nine Network, begins in 1969 and it centers on the young women who live in Stanton House, a home for unwed mothers in Sydney. Sometimes difficult to watch, Love Child shows the corruption that was part and parcel of Australia’s forced adoption industry, the damage it caused to so many women, and how those women and their allies fought the system and won. Two seasons have already aired, and a third one is coming, though I’m not surprised. This show wins on all levels, and the period costumes rock!
2. A Place to Call Home
After twenty years in Europe, Sarah Adams, a concentration camp survivor and nurse believes her husband dead, and returns to 1950s Australia to reconcile with her mother. On the journey from Europe, Sarah becomes involved with a very wealthy and powerful family, some of whom draw her in, and some of whom cast her out. This drama series focuses on this family, Sarah’s strained relationship with them, her life as she struggles to reestablish herself in Australia, and the social change that’s starting to take hold in New South Wales and beyond. Seven Network has alread aired three seasons of A Place to Call Home, and a fourth is on the way. I’m looking forward to lots more tense drama when this one airs again!
This one is also available on DVD from Amazon.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I’ll earn a commission if you place an order after clicking through to Amazon.
I am totally going to look up Trollied — it reminds me of my very favourite Brtish TV series ever –
Are You Being Served?
Debbie Calabrese says
Loved Are you Being Served
Confession: A total guilty pleasure of mine is British Reality TV LOL! I can’t believe I just admitted that. I think I’d enjoy those beautiful costumes on ‘The Paradise’, too. Definitely going to check it out – thanks for this list!
You’re welcome :) I’ve actually never watched British Reality TV. Am I missing out?
Gwendolyn Mulholland says
These look interesting and now I just need to figure out how to watch them. I love the amazing costumes from shows that are from a past time period. Thanks for sharing these great shows.
I love British TV and hate that Downton has now ended. I’m interested in several of these shows now, especially Jericho since I’m a big fan of Call the Midwife. Of course, my favorite British TV show is still Doctor Who, lol.
Can you believe I’ve never seen an episode of Doctor Who?
vidya sudarsan says
I have not watched a good British TV series in a very long time! I have heard about Trollied from my friend who does not watch American TV anymore. I’m so tempted to check this out.. thanks for sharing.
I have a love/hate relationship with binge watching. Love that they’re so good that I can’t stop watching. Hate that I’m up until 4am watching and that I’m a zombie the next day. I guess I’m going to be a zombie after checking these out.
I know the feeling! As a freelancer, it’s tempting to stay up past my bedtime : -)
These looks like some great TV series. I love period dramas so these are right up my street. Thank you much for sharing! :)
My pleasure :) I hope you find something you love in there, it’s always fun to find a new show to dive into!
I loved House of Elliot and your other choices, which I have not heard of, sound very good. I am now wondering how I can get hold of them. Current favourites include Dr Thorne, Indian Summers an I loved Dickensian. Hubby is enjoying The Night Manager.
I’m watching Dr. Thorne now :) I haven’t seen the other three you mentioned, but I will check them out, thanks for mentioning them.
Dr Thorne has just finished and was excellent. It was on ITV1
I’ve only seen the first episode, I plan on getting caught up over the long weekend.
House Of Elliot, wow that is retro. I remember that well as it was filmed in my home city of Bristol!!! I’m just about to get into Happy Valley as it’s all I’ve heard about over the last few months!
How cool! I hadn’t heard of Happy Valley, I’ll be checking it out.
I remember House of Elliot be on on a Sunday evening when I was much younger. You’ve made some great choices. I could never get into Mr Selfridge, I much preferred the Paradise. We’re currently catching up on Jericho and enjoying it very much.
I think Mr. Selfridge peaked in the first two seasons. I’m actually not all that sorry to see it go, but I hope a new period drama comes to take its place.
I much preferred The Paradise to Mr. Selfridge. It always seemed to me that Jeremy Pivens was really rather over the top, and really hammed it up. The House of Elliott was a favourite of mine, back in the day. I shall definitely give several of these a go. Another bingeworthy British series is “Lark Rise to Candleford.” It’s magical.
I would love to watch Love Child. It sounds like a good show.
Tori Gabriel says
I haven’t heard of most of these but they sound really good. I especially love the sound of Trollied. It sounds like it could be hilarious.
Patrick Weseman says
That Troilled looks very interesting.
I would like to watch Our Zoo. Sounds really interesting. Love child on the other hand I would stay away from. That’s the kind of show that gets me rattled up and ready to make picket signs. Great list!
Me, too :) But I just love the 60s era costumes in Love Child!
Michelle Gwynn Jones says
I am crazy about The Paradise. Haven’t seen any of the other ones.
I will have to check these out! I am a big fan of Faulty Towers :)
Another one I haven’t seen… I’ll have to check it out.
Amy Jones says
oh nice, ill add them to my binge list, now i just wish i had the time to watch them all =)….
Lexie Lane says
Will check them out! Glad you shared this, thank you!
Aileen Adalid says
Hmmm I actually haven’t watched a lot of British dramas and I think it’s about time that I do! I’ve heard great things about some of the TV shows you’ve listed here so thanks for reminding me to “catch up” haha
The Brits make great TV :) I can’t believe I was missing out for so many years!
I have actually never watched any British shows before, but now I am off to see if my Netflix has them. Thanks for sharing!
Terri Ramsey Beavers says
I love British TV shows, and it’s one of the things I look forward to on Saturday evening. The Britcoms on GPTV. I’m going to check all of these out because I already know I’ll love watching them.
Liz Mays says
I hadn’t heard of any of these, but you can bet I’ll be looking them up. I love trying series from other countries!
I did my study abroad at Oxford and while I was there I totally got hooked on British TV! I was so sad not to see what happened to all of them. It is so hard to get Brit TV over here. I love the Paradise.
British TV isn’t very popular in Denmark, but you can find a lot on YouTube and Google :)
Great shows you have picked here!
Thanks… I was wondering how such a list would be received, but it seems to have gone down well :)
Great choice of British tv shows you’ve picked to share here!
Thanks, Emily! I’m happy to hear you say that, TV can be so subjective.
Ana De-Jesus says
I’m embarrassed to say that despite living in the UK I have never watched Downtown Abbey! Lol!
Nah, be proud that you’re probably in the minority :-)
thanks for the tip on the house of elliot! and such a shame about the place with garden space…
It’s nice to see you… you’re welcome. I’m still sad about that little house :(
Ana Fernandez says
I have always been hearing many good things about Trollied. I might start watching whis
Becca Wilson says
Thanks for sharing these. I love shows like this and now I have some new ones to watch.
oooh…this is great! i’ve pinned it. Thanks so much. I’d only watched the Paradise so far.
Oooooh! I am totally going to find Trollied! Here are my top 5 to binge watch: 1) Fawlty Towers, 2) IT Crowd, 3) Father Ted, 4) Miranda, and 5) tie between Are You Being Served and Grace and Favour. Can you tell I’m an Anglophile?
Shaylee Field says
I LOVE British and Australian comedies! I’m definitely going to have to check out Trollied, it looks right up my alley!
Morgan Prince says
Great list, I remember The House of Eliott from when I was young!
Bob & Linda Dean & Eric & Katrina says
We loved watching “Our Zoo” . It is really too bad that they have cancelled the show.
Margaret Wilson says
Please tell me when these shows will be airing. Love all the shows that are on now, I watch even the reruns. Can’t wait.
Please tell me they will be on soon.
I love British mysteries and detective shows. Midsommer Mysteries, Detective Doyle and so many others. I wish BBC would produce some new ones. They are clean and no bad language. It can be done…
Must check out Lark Rise to Candleford. Love it❤
This sounds right up my alley! Thanks for the recommendation :)
Roz MacIntyre says
I LOVED the 1st series of A PLACE TO CALL HOME. The Aussie period drama …. watched 13 episodes over this weekend.on DAVE. Where/ when can I see the second series ?
Debbie Calabrese says
Acorn carries the entire series. Just finished the final season this year. Real quality.
In my opinion, almost the only good TV is what I see on PBS-Poldark, Call the Midwife, Ballykissangel, From Larkrise to Candleford, The Forsyte Saga, Doc Martin and now, Victoria. Regular American network TV is horrendous. If they ever stop importing those wonderful British TV dramas, I will no longer have a reason to live!!
Debbie Calabrese says
Loved everyone of above-mentioned shows. Real quality!
I can’t believe you left out Poldark! It’s an amazing show! And Victoria! Another really great show.
Season 1 of “Victoria” didn’t air until 2017 and this blog post was written in 2016 :)
While “Poldark” and “Victoria” are great shows, the point of this post was to highlight lesser known series, and I don’t consider either show to fit that criteria.
Three which i would recommend would be The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries and Foyles War. Great period pieces! My favourite is Foyles war. I just love the costumes in period pieces, the history, the lifestyle.
Cindy Carroll says
A Place to Call Home was so good that I watched the whole series twice! I never, ever do that. Thanks for this list. Several of these I have not seen so I will start on one tonight!