20 Shows Like ‘Downton Abbey’ to Add to Your Queue ASAP
It feels like it's been forever since we last caught up with the Crawleys in Downton Abbey, but fortunately for us, their story isn’t over just yet.
In case you missed it, Focus Features recently confirmed that a sequel for the film is already in the works—and the premiere is just a couple of months away. The show’s producer, Gareth Neame, revealed in a statement, “After a very challenging year with so many of us separated from family and friends, it is a huge comfort to think that better times are ahead and that next Christmas, we will be reunited with the much-beloved characters of Downton Abbey.”
The film is set to release on December 22, but until then, we could really use a few similar period dramas to tide us over. From The Crown to Call the Midwife, check out these 20 shows like Downton Abbey. Best served with a cup of tea.
Since the miniseries is an adaptation of the novel by Julian Fellowes (better known as the mastermind behind Downton Abbey), it’s filled with similar themes, from dark family secrets and forbidden affairs to navigating high society. Set in 1815 and in the wake of the Battle of Waterloo, the miniseries follows the Trenchard family’s move into London's aristocratic society.
When veteran Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) returns home to England after the American War of Independence, he’s heartbroken to learn that his estate is in ruins, his father is dead and his romantic partner is engaged to his cousin. From family drama and scandalous affairs to historical context, Poldark has it all.
In 18th-century London, former sex worker Margaret Wells (Samantha Morton) is determined to secure a better future through her up-and-coming brothel. Due to police raids and protests from religious groups, she relocates to a wealthier neighborhood—but this only causes more problems because of her competitor, Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville).
4. ‘The Crown’
Even if you’re not a royal enthusiast, this Netflix hit series is filled with enough drama and shocking twists to keep you on the edge of your seat. The show chronicles the professional and personal life of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy), as well as the rest of the British royal family.
Follow Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a World War II military nurse, as she time travels to the year 1743 in Scotland. It’s worth noting that Outlander is much heavier on the romance than Downton Abbey, but you’ll especially appreciate the fantasy element and gorgeous scenery. The cast includes Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies and Graham McTavish.
6. ‘ Victoria’
Stunning period costumes abound in this British series, which tells the story of Queen Victoria's (Jenna Coleman), accession to the British throne at just 18 years old. The show also chronicles her difficult marriage and ongoing struggle to balance her duties with her personal life.
7. ‘Upstairs Downstairs’
Anyone who has seen the original Upstairs Downstairs will probably agree that Downton Abbey got some of its inspiration from the iconic British drama. Set in a townhouse in Belgravia, London, the show follows the lives of the servants (or "downstairs") and their upper-class masters ("upstairs") from 1903 and 1930. Significant events like the First World War, the Roaring Twenties and the women's suffrage movement are included in the series.
8. ‘Call the Midwife’
It has its fair share of poignant and heart-wrenching moments, but Call the Midwife also offers powerful insight into the daily lives of working-class women during the 1950s and ‘60s. This period drama centers on a group of midwives as they carry out their nursing duties in the East End of London.
9. ‘The Forsyte Saga’
The Forsyte Saga depicts three generations of the Forsytes, an upper-middle-class family, from the 1870s to the 1920s (around the same time period as Downton). From family drama and steamy affairs to lighthearted humor, this series will keep you engrossed.
10. ‘The Durrells in Corfu’
Similar to Downton Abbey, The Durrells in Corfu is rife with stunning scenery and family drama. Based on British writer Gerald Durrell’s time with his family on the Greek island of Corfu, it follows Louisa Durrell and her four children as they struggle to adjust to their new lives on the island.
11. ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’
Inspired by Flora Thompson's semi-autobiographical books, the series details the everyday lives of several characters who reside in the Oxfordshire hamlet of Lark Rise and the neighboring town, Candleford. Julia Sawalha, Olivia Hallinan, Claudie Blakley and Brendan Coyle star in this addictive British drama.
12. ‘Vanity Fair’
Following her graduation from Miss Pinkerton's academy, the ambitious and cynical Becky Sharp (Olivia Cooke) is determined to get to the top of the social ladder, no matter how many high class men she has to seduce along the way. Set during the early 1800s, the miniseries is inspired by William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1848 novel of the same title.
13. ‘Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries’
Well, who can resist a riveting whodunnit series? Set in 1920s Melbourne, the Australian show focuses on a glamorous private detective named Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis), who remains haunted by the kidnapping and death of her little sister.
14. ‘The Paradise’
In this adaptation of Émile Zola's novel, Au Bonheur des Dames, we follow Denise Lovett (Joanna Vanderham), a small-town girl from Scotland who takes a new job at England's very first department store, The Paradise. Did we mention how stunning that gowns and costumes are?
15. ‘Foyle’s War’
Set in England during the 1940s, right in the middle of a devastating world war, Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) investigates a series of crimes, from theft and looting to murder. It may not tackle all the same themes or have the same tone as Downton, but it does a brilliant job of depicting the impact of this huge historical event on local crime.
16. ‘North and South’
Based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s eponymous 1855 novel, this British drama series follows Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe), a middle-class woman from southern England who moves up North after her father leaves the clergy. She and her family struggle to adjust to this change as they deal with issues like classism and gender bias.
17. ‘The Halcyon’
Think of it as a slightly modernized version of Downton, but with sharper dialogue. The Halcyon takes place in 1940 at a glamorous London hotel and examines the effects of World War II on politics, family and relationships. Although it was sadly cancelled after just one season, it’s definitely worth adding to your watch list.
18. ‘Parade’s End’
There's a reason why critics have dubbed it the "the higher-brow Downton Abbey." Not only does it tackle romance and social divides, but it also highlights the devastating impact of World War I. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the tightly wound aristocrat, Christopher Tietjens, who must deal with his promiscuous wife, Sylvia Tietjens (Rebecca Hall).
19. ‘Mr. Selfridge’
Ever wondered about the story behind Selfridge, one of the most famous chains of high-end department stores in the U.K.? Well, now’s your chance to brush up on a little British history (and enjoy glamorous costumes while you’re at it). This period drama details the life of retail magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge, who opened his first retail stores in the early 1900s.
20. ‘The English Game’
Created by Downton Abbey’s own Fellowes, this 19th-century drama explores the origins of football (or soccer) in England and how it grew to become one of the world’s most popular games by crossing class lines.