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Your Very British Streaming Guide to Victorian TV Dramas

Photo-Illustration: Vulture

It’s safe to say we Americans never tire of a good British period drama — miss ya, Downton — so the new PBS series Victoria, which debuts on January 15, will almost certainly get a warm reception on this side of the pond. The debut season follows the young Queen Victoria during her first tumultuous years on the throne, with a hearty mix of gorgeous costuming, snappy dialogue, and enough political intrigue to satiate any Anglophile. (Not to mention, it’s working with very dramatic source material.) To celebrate the arrival of this latest period import, Vulture put together a guide to the best Victorian-set series that are currently available for streaming. Steep some tea and enjoy ‘em.

North & South

What’s it about? This gritty four-part serial depicts the life of a young woman named Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe), who’s forced to leave behind a peaceful middle-class upbringing in southern England when her clergyman father abandons the Church of England. After they move to a northern industrial town, she struggles to adjust to her surroundings — and isn’t aided by the fact that she may be falling in love with a local cotton-mill owner (Richard Armitage) who seems to hate everything she and her family stand for.
Where can I stream it? Netflix

Cranford and Return to Cranford

What’s it about? This wonderfully weird little show tells the intertwining stories of numerous single and widowed women — Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins among them! — in the rural village of Cranford as they live their remaining years in relative harmony. Don’t be deceived by their old age, though: These ladies might be wary of the Industrial Revolution, but they love nothing more than to gossip and flirt with the town’s gentlemen … all while maintaining a proper sense of gentility, of course.
Where can I stream it? Amazon

Jane Eyre

What’s it about? Charlotte Brontë’s beloved novel got the mini-series treatment with this 2006 four-parter, which stars Ruth Wilson in the titular role as a young, orphaned governess who gradually falls in love with her older (and broodingly complicated) master, Edwin Rochester, at the sprawling Thornfield Hall. When strange and dangerous events keep occurring at the Hall while she watches her pupil, Jane begins to question how dark Rochester’s past really is.
Where can I stream it? Hulu

Ripper Street

What’s it about? The Matthew Macfadyen–led ensemble police drama follows a team of skilled officers as they patrol the crime-ridden Whitechapel section of East London, mere months after Jack the Ripper went on his infamous killing spree. As each season passes, the cases get far more complex, as do the increased violent fatalities and the personal entanglements of the officers.
Where can I stream it? Netflix

Lark Rise to Candleford

What’s it about? A bright-eyed teenage girl named Laura Timmins (Olivia Hallinan) moves to the quaint hamlet of Candleford to begin an apprenticeship at the local post office, under the watchful eye of her mother’s cousin. While the life of a rural postmistress may not seem high stakes, the emotional heart of the show comes from the oft-interconnected narratives of various townspeople, as well as the naturally competitive relationship between Candleford and its less wealthy neighbor, Lark Rise.
Where can I stream it? Amazon, Hulu

The Forsyte Saga

What’s it about? Adapted from John Galsworthy’s trilogy of novels, The Forsyte Saga is a dark tale about the deeply flawed Forsyte family that spans three generations. Though comfortably upper-middle class, the Forsytes have to deal with the struggles of maintaining their high and mighty status as they transition to a more modern way of living, not to mention the shifting romantic entanglements — often of illicit nature — that plague the family’s covetous core.
Where can I stream it? iTunes

Bleak House

What’s it about? The star-studded adaptation clocks in at eight-plus hours to cover all of Charles Dickens’s intricate plotlines, with the heart of the story being an icily aloof Lady (Gillian Anderson) harboring a dark secret and the ruthless lawyer (Charles Dance) attempting to uncover it. Beyond that, the drama primarily explores the legal system in relation to one infamous case — with two bright young orphans potentially inheriting a massive fortune, and another orphan’s unknown parentage at play, finding the truth is a suspenseful ride.
Where can I stream it? Amazon, Hulu

Wives and Daughters

What’s it about? A family drama with a cheeky edge, Wives and Daughters chronicles its level-headed young protagonist (Justine Waddell), the daughter of a respected country doctor, as she deals with the aftermath of getting an unwanted prim-and-proper stepmother and an impulsive stepsister. Adding insult to injury, she must also navigate the eccentric village’s propensity for gossip while being rejected by potential suitor after suitor. Ah, to be young in Victorian England.
Where can I stream it? Amazon

The Paradise

What’s it about? The Paradise really puts the “costume” in “costume drama,” as its core narrative revolves around a young Scottish girl (Joanna Vanderham) who’s thrown into the chaotic and modern world of working at an upscale Newcastle department store. (The first of its kind!) Between the staggering competition she faces with her fellow shopgirls and potentially falling in love with the store’s widowered owner, it’s a lot more intense than you might expect.
Where can I stream it? Netflix, Amazon

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

What’s it about? This two-part mini-series starring Matthew Rhys is an exploration of Charles Dickens’s unfinished novel, which centers around the perplexing mystery of Edwin Drood’s disappearance. The honorable choirmaster John Jasper (Rhys) seemingly has nothing to do with it, but opium binges, terrifying surrealist dreams, and an unhealthy obsession with Edwin’s fianceé lurk beneath the surface, calling into question if he, in fact, has any murderous desires. Passion, betrayal, addiction: This mini-series has it all!
Where can I stream it? Amazon, iTunes

Doctor Thorne

What’s it about? Julian Fellowes — yup, that Julian Fellowes — returns to television with this charming three-part series that showcases the dynamics between the homely Doctor Thorne and wealthy Gresham families. As the resident town doctor, Thorne (Tom Hollander) lives peacefully with his niece, Mary, but tension begins to quickly unravel when it’s revealed the Greshams have lost almost their entire fortune. While the Greshams’ son wants to marry his lifelong friend Mary despite her lack of funds, his mother will have none of it, and instead tries to arrange a union between him and an American heiress (played by Alison Brie!). It’s very good fun.
Where can I stream it? Amazon

Your Very British Guide to Victorian TV Dramas