What I did over the Christmas holidays… It started out with Mr. Kallisti downloading “The Devil’s Whore” for me “cuz it sounded like your type of thing. Y’know, whores…” It snowballed from there as I watched Charles I beheaded three times over the two week slowdown! It has taken me 2 more weeks just to finish this post, oy!
Here’s the line-up, all highly recommended, in rough chrono-order.
1638 to 1660: The Devil’s Whore [IMDB]
By and large, there are two categories of period drama. The first is White Petticoat Drama, where people do a bit of frisky fan-work, have a picnic that involves a huge ham, and then live happily ever after. The second is Dirty Period Drama – where everyone is covered in boils, wees out of the window, and palpably suffers from the lack of antibiotics and/or mobile telecommunications. The Devil’s Whore is definitely in the second category. John Simm’s fleas should make the credit list. Oliver Cromwell clearly pongs. It makes a dirty war a very dirty war. But one that, against all the Civil War odds, makes great telly.
–Caitlin Moran, The Times
1640 to 1660: “By the Sword Divided” (1983) [IMDB] [WIKI]
A bit obvious to say, but if you liked Poldark you’ll really enjoy “By the Sword Divided.” Classic low budget, yet brilliantly written and performed eighteen hour series from the BBC. It also aired on Masterpiece Theater in the late 80’s. One of the few period dramas to deal with the English Civil War, before and aftermath.
1660 to 1685: Charles II – The Power & The Passion (The Last King in the U.S.): [BBC] [IMDB] 2003, covers the life and adventures of Charles II of England, played by the ever roguish Rufus Sewell. Mwrowr.
1673 to 1722: The First Churchills [IMDB]
The First Churchills: 1969! Covers the period 1673 through 1722, based on the biography by Winston Churchill of his illustrious ancestors, the first Duke & Duchess of Marlborough. Susan Hampshire & John Neville are sublime.