Oh, BBC. You create the most wonderful series! I have a thing for period drama’s and shows with a great amount of detail. With the help of Netflix I have discovered (perhaps some lesser known) series that are definitely worth your time. BBC series are often incredibly accurate representations of specific period and the becomes evident by the costuming, the sets and even the language used by the characters! I love American series, don’t get me wrong, but at times those are a little bit over the top. So when I just want to watch a good story my network of choice is the BBC.
Call the Midwife
Call the Midwife is a great example of an excellent BBC Period Drama, as it chronicles the life of new midwife nurse Jenny Lee in 1950s/1960s East End London. Together with her fellow nurses and the Sisters of Nonnatus House she delivers babies and takes care of the sick in the extremely improverished Poplar neighbourhood. Jenny Lee is very green and having come from a well to do background she is not used to the poverty of Poplar. Despite the lack of means in Poplar there is no lack of babies and with more than 80 babies each month there is not really much else Jenny can do than roll up her sleeves and take the plunge!
Call the Midwife is inspired by the memoirs of the real Jenny Lee and are thus not a fictionalized portrayal. Many of the stories that are told in the series are those of the people the real Jenny Lee met when she was a midwife in the 50s and 60s. I really enjoyed Call the Midwife because it highlights a lot of different subjects. Naturally midwifery is the main focus of the show but they also explore things like the faith of orphaned children, men dealing with homosexuality, the lingering sentiments of world war II and the hardships of the poor. Poplar is not all darkness and depravity; the show also makes a point of the happy moments in the life of the East Ender. For me this is the great power of the show: it shows that there is always hope even though everything seems to be against you.
Since I blew through the 4 series of Call the Midwife in no time I was on the look out for something new. Quite by mistake I saw Land Girls pop up in my Netflix recommendations. Similar to Call the Midwife, Land Girls is a period drama but this takes place during World War II. The main focus of the show are the Land Girls of the Women’s Land Army who worked as farmers during the war to supply England with their much needed nourishment. Series one features 4 girls who all became part of the WLA for different reasons: Annie and Bea to escape their abusive father, Joyce to do her patriotic duty while her husband serves with the RAF and Nancy as a conscripted woman. Especially in the middle of World War II England was deprived of its men as all able men where sent to Germany/France as either soldiers or bombers. Meanwhile the country was also in needed of people farming the land to make sure the people left behind would not die of starvation. This show was intriguing: I knew little of this subject and learned quite a lot. During World War II men and women became much more equal and the 50s and 60s were a huge step back. Land Girls and Call the Midwife are especially interesting when viewed back to back as it gives a good overview of the position of women in these three decades.
This is by far the silliest tv show I have ever seen. I had heard a great many things about Doctor Who nearly all of them very positive. After the first episode of the reboot I was quite speechless. The one thing I thought was: “what have I just watched”. Doctor Who, especially in the first two seasons is all about cheesy costumes and sets. The show does not even pretend to be realistic. I said earlier that I think most American show are over the top. Well Doctor Who proves that the BBC also has a sense of drama. I still have a lot of episodes to watch but I am hooked. Doctor Who is awesome! And you’ll have 9 seasons to watch (not even including the original Doctor Who episodes), countless specials and many books to read! What are you waiting for?