When the first season of Downton Abbey aired, it quickly became a worldwide phenomenon. It’s a long story that begins with the Titanic disaster in 1912 and concludes in the roaring twenties (specifically, in ’26).
In Downton Abbey, there is a wide range of social classes represented, as well as family drama and a period setting. Stunning cinematography, elaborate costumes and a stellar cast round out the package. As a result, it’s easy to see why it’s so well-liked.
The Downton Abbey television series’ success paved the way for a Downton Abbey movie. The first film in the series was released in 2019, and Julian Fellowes is currently working on the sequel, which will hit theaters in 2022.
The story of Belgravia is based on Julian Fellowes’ novel of the same name, which was the inspiration for the hit period drama Downton Abbey. He has never previously adapted one of his own works to the big screen. Before the Battle of Waterloo, there was a ball. It’s darker than Downton Abbey, but it still has the same amount of drama and historical significance.
2. Call the Midwife
From the 1950s to the present, the story of Call the Midwife centers on a group of midwives. It deals with issues of neighborhood, family, and social integration. You should watch a few episodes to see if it’s a show for you even though it’s not in the same genre as Downton Abbey.
3. The Cazalets
We recommend watching The Cazalets even though it isn’t available on Netflix because it features familiar actors like Hugh Bonneville, Stephen Dillane, Lesley Manville, Joanna Page, Anna Chancellor, Penny Downie, John McArdle, Patsy Rowlands, and Paul Rhys, as well as those who don’t mind hunting down DVD copies.
4. Cranford & Return to Cranford
The story of Cranford is set in a small Cheshire town. Construction on a railroad is well underway, and things are changing at a rapid pace. What will happen to the town’s residents as they move from a peaceful rural lifestyle to one dominated by industry? Cranford is based on an Elizabeth Gaskell short story of the same name.
5. Doctor Thorne
Julian Fellowes is also the author of the Doctor Thorne series. The story revolves around Mary Thorne, a young woman who is born into a wealthy family but lacks financial means of her own. Doctor Thorne is played by Tom Hollander. The story is based on Anthony Trollope’s novel of the same name, published in 1858.
6. The Durrells in Corfu
The Durrells is based on the true story of the Durrell family, who moved to Corfu from Britain in 1935 for a change of scenery. Fun for the whole family, this family drama features stunning scenery and interesting cast members.
7. The English Game
Julian Fellowes also created The English Game. Don’t worry if you’re not a sports fan. I think it’s mostly about class struggles and how an elitist sport became popular enough to be claimed by everyone in the world. There are a lot of interesting characters and their tales are well told. There’s a little bit of everything here: romance, drama, and even football.
8. The Forsyte Saga
Following three generations of a wealthy upper-middle class family, The Forsyte Saga Unlike Downton Abbey, the story doesn’t end until the 1920s; instead, it begins in the 1870s. There are many characters in the story, as you might expect from a saga that spans half a century. It’s based on John Galsworthy’s novel of the same name. Those looking for a glimpse into the lives of the working class will be turned off by this. The servants are visible, but they aren’t mentioned.
Damian Lewis, Rupert Graves, Gina McKee, Corin Redgrave, Ioan Gruffudd, and a host of other actors and actresses appear in the film.
9. The Halcyon
Even though it only lasted for one season, The Halcyon is a welcome addition to our list regardless of its short duration. The action takes place in a posh downtown London hotel during the Blitz.
Among those featured in The Halcyon are actors like Annabelle Apison, Mark Benton, Jamie Blackley, Edward Bluemel, Alex Boxall, Hermione Corfield, and Liz White.
10. Lark Rise to Candleford
To make Lark Rise to Candleford, the filmmakers drew inspiration from Flora Thompson’s semi-autobiographical trilogy. The action takes place in the Oxfordshire countryside in the small hamlet of Lark Rise and the nearby market town of Candleford. Throughout the story, we learn about the complexities and interconnections between the lives of various characters.
Brendan Coyle, Dawn French, Mark Heap, Richard Harrington, Ben Aldridge, Victoria Hamilton, and Ben Miles will all be there in their familiar roles. Sarah Lancashire serves as the series’ narrator.
11. North & South
For those of you who enjoy historical dramas but haven’t seen North and South, I highly recommend it. The play is based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel of the same name, published in 1854. To begin, Margaret Hale, a southern woman of middle class, moves to a northern industrial town. A look at social divides and the ramifications of snap decisions is presented in North and South.
Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage, Sinéad Cusack, Tim Pigott-Smith, Brendan Coyle, Jo Joyner, and Lesley Manville star in North and South.
12. Parade’s End
A love story set in turbulent times, Parade’s End is at its core. A young suffragette is played by Australian actress Adelaide Clemens; a conservative aristocrat is played by Benedict Cumberbatch; and the abuser’s wife is played by Rebecca Hall. They have tumultuous personal lives that are overshadowed by politics and conflict.
There are a number of other notable actors in the cast as well.
It’s a BBC/HBO co-production with stunning scenery and cinematography, and it’s worth seeing. Tom Stoppard is the author of the play.
13. The Paradise
England’s first department store’s first employee is a country girl named The Paradise. The show was enjoyable even though it was short-lived (only two seasons). Among the cast are Joanna Vanderham, Sarah Lancashire, Matthew McNulty, Emun Elliot, and Marc Jobst.
You’re a little behind if you haven’t seen Poldark yet, but that’s okay. All five seasons are available to watch via Amazon Prime. When it ran from 2015 to 2019, it was a huge hit with a huge audience.
The show begins with Ross Poldark returning to Cornwall after serving his country in the American Revolutionary War. And as a result, everything in your life will change. His father is gone, the mine where he grew up is closed, and the woman he loves is engaged to her cousin, all because of his father’s death. Even if things worsen, there is only one possible outcome: upwards. Afterwards, we follow Poldark around as he tries to make a fresh start for himself.
An array of notable actors appear in the film, among them Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, and Phil Davis.
Older adaptations of Winston Graham’s vast book series can still be found on Amazon, including this new one. The earliest known version, starring Robin Ellis and released in 1975, can be found on Acorn. When a movie with John Bowe, Ioan Gruffudd, Mel Marin, and Kelly Reilly came out, it was a huge hit. It’s also available through Amazon Prime.
15. Upstairs Downstairs (1971 – 1975)
Fans of Downton Abbey should not miss the original Upstairs Downstairs. There are a plethora of parallels. The characters are believable, complete with flaws and a strong sense of self-confidence. It’s a well-written film with excellent acting throughout. It has the feel of a well-produced stage play.
16. Upstairs Downstairs (2010 – 2012)
Keeley Hawes and Ed Stoppard starred in a reimagining of Upstairs Downstairs in 2010. Claire Foy and Eileen Atkins round out the cast. There are only nine episodes spread over two seasons, but they’re still worth watching for the sheer entertainment value. Rose Buck’s housekeeper, Jean Marsh, returns to the show in a new role. The new season picks up six years after the previous one ends, at the start of World War II.
17. War & Peace (2016)
However, despite the fact that War & Peace is set in imperial Russia, it is also about aristocratic families. James Norton, Lily James, Paul Dano, Tom Burke, Jim Broadbent, Rebecca Front, and Tuppence Middleton star in the six-part adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic.
War & Peace is available on Amazon and other streaming purchase outlets for purchase.
What similarities can be drawn between War & Peace and Downton Abbey? Aristocratic families, stunning costumes, outstanding acting talent, and all of this takes place during a time of great social change.
18. Vanity Fair (2018)
Actress Olivia Cooke plays a young woman with high social aspirations in this seven-part miniseries adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel. There are many characters to love and hate in this emotional story about a fun romp through the classes. Whether or not you like Becky Sharpe, the protagonist of the story, there is no denying her sharpness and willingness to do anything to get what she wants are unquestionable. You’ve got to respect her drive and determination.
Fun fact: Julian Fellowes penned the screenplay for Reese Witherspoon’s 2004 film adaptation of Vanity Fair.