Keeley Hawes narrates this five-part series examining the extraordinary impact that costume and period drama has had on television history over the last 50 years.
1/5. The Greatest Stories Ever Told.
Cynics dismiss the genre as a threadbare parade of bonnets, frilly shirts and cliches, but costume drama is subject to trends, too. Mind you, Jane Austen has ruled the roost for a while now, costume drama is a whimsical beast. It all began with a bow, arrow and foot-tapping jingle in The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1955. Then came adultery in The Forsyte Saga, posttraumatic stress in Upstairs, Downstairs and risque Romans in I Claudius. Part one selects the best of the bunch, while the stars reminisce about their time in togas and stays.
2/5. The Stars. This episode explores how costume dramas created stars out of the leading men and women who appeared in them. Featuring interviews with Sean Bean, Juliet Aubrey, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, Billie Piper, Dorian Healy and Alex Kingston.
3/5. Affairs Of The Heart. Many of your favorite shows are shown including BBC's Pride and Prejudice from 1995,the Sharpe series, and more recent series like Cranford.
4/5. Picture Perfect. This episode revisits some of the genre's most beautiful and evocative settings--from the Castle Howard of Brideshead Revisited to the Cornwall of Poldark--and reveals the tools which allowed programme makers to recreate the past. Interviews include Anthony Andrews, Simon Williams, Alex Kingston, Barbara Flynn, Bill Paterson, John Hurt, Derek Jacobi, Hans Matheson and Charity Wakefield.
5/5. A Call To Arms. The final part explores the epic and adventurous side of period dramas.
Plot Summary:This documentary series looks at the enduring appeal of the British costume drama genre, and features clips and interviews with both the stars and those who worked behind the camera.