Old English stories can be a guilty pleasure. In actuality, there’s just something comfy about good ole’ period piece series like Downton Abbey. Something relatable, well as relatable as high class English lords and ladies can be. These shows just have the perfect mix between drama, politics, and romance. And that’s why we’ve created a list of one of the best shows of this genre, Downton Abbey.
Downton Abbey is a British historical drama series that aired on ITV in the UK, and PBS in the United States, between 2010 and 2015. The series centered on a fictional estate of Downton Abbey, Yorkshire, and followed the lives of an aristocratic family known as the Crawleys, as well as their domestic servants, all set in the backdrop of the post-Edwardian era of the 1920s.
It’s been labeled as the most successful British costume drama of all time, and was a regular among Golden Globes and Primetime Emmys Award nominees and winners for the entirety of its time on air. If you’re looking for more shows that scratch this particular itch, then you’ve come to the right place, as here are 15v shows like Downton Abbey for you to watch.
List of TV Shows like Downton Abbey
1. Bridgerton (2020)
Cut from the same cloth as shows like Downton Abbey, Bridgerton is another glamorous and splendid English drama, with a modern twist thrown in the mix in terms of casting a wide range of ethnicities. Bridgerton is set in the Regency era of London’s town, where the nobility and gentry meet and hold balls, dinner parties, and charity events so that the youth can find themselves a partner.
The story primarily focuses on Daphne Bridgerton, the eldest daughter, as she navigates the competitive world of matchmaking and falls in love with the Duke of Hastings, Simon Bassett. Their relationship begins as a ruse to ward off other suitors, but soon evolves into a genuine emotional connection. If you loved Downton Abbey, you’ll definitely enjoy this too
2. The Crown (2016)
What’s even more bourgeoisie than a bunch of lords and ladies, as seen in series like Downton Abbey? The royal family of course. The Crown focuses on the story of Queen Elizabeth starting from her ascent to the throne and her growth into her role as the most powerful monarch in the world.
Written by the legendary Peter Morgan, we get a thoroughly entertaining biographical period piece, filled with a very talented cast, that changes as the generations go by, but remains up to the task regardless. This show has become something of a cultural phenomenon and is one of the most popular shows on Netflix. You should check it out if you have the chance.
3. Foyle’s War (2002)
One of the English period piece series similar to Downton Abbey, Foyle’s War is set in 1940s England, and follows the story of Chief Superintendent Chris Foyle. Set in the backdrop of the Second World War, there is still crime to be investigated at home, and it’s Foyle’s job to investigate and solve them, bringing their perpetrators to justice.
The show was revived after initially getting canceled in 2007, after getting some really great ratings for its fifth season. Created by Midsomer Mysteries writer and author, it gained rave reviews during its time on air and you should definitely cop a DVD and catch up on it if you’re interested in stories like these.
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4. Call the Midwife (2012)
Call the Midwife follows the story of nurses, nuns and midwives working at Nonnatus House, in the East End of London. Set in the late 50s and 60s, and is centered on the day to day lives of these midwives in a local neighborhood called Poplar. The show deals with various themes like teen pregnancy, abortion, poverty and religion.
Call the Midwife mixes a lot of real historical facts with the soapy drama of the show, a show whose realism is elevated by a swathe of great acting performances by a very talented cast. It has been particularly praised for its sweet and poignant tone, which contrasts well with the gritty post-war setting which the show is set against. If you enjoyed shows similar to Downton Abbey, then you’ll definitely enjoy this one.
5. The Bonfire of Destiny (2019)
In The Bonfire of Destiny we take a bit of a detour from English period piece series like Downton Abbey, and head to France. Set after a fire engulfs Paris in 1897, the show follows the story of three women who find their lives turned upside down, dealing with betrayals, friendships, love and relationship.
Translated from Le Bazar de la Charite for English audiences, it’s an originally French language show that still managed to capture the affections of non-French audiences. It’s a well put together show that melds some historical accuracy with an enthralling story, one which you will fall in love with, should you give it a chance.
6. Belgravia (2020)
We’re back to England, and among the wealthy in Belgravia. Belgravia is a wealthy district in London, and a newly rich family comes into town, and the young daughter of the family catches the eye of one of Edmund Bellas, heir to one of the richest and most powerful families in England.
It’s a period piece centered around the high and mighty, similar to shows like Downton Abbey, and the similarities don’t stop there as the show is made up of the production team behind Downton Abbey. So this is the natural follow up for you if you really enjoyed the show.
7. Rebellion (2016)
Rebellion is a miniseries that follows the story of a set of characters during the 1916 Rising, an armed insurrection during Easter Week of that year. It shows us these events through the eyes of these characters, showing the role that each of them played in securing Ireland their independence from England.
Although it hasn’t been highly rated in terms of historical accuracy, which affected its viewership over its episodes on air, it does showcase some great drama, a bunch of fascinating characters and high stakes that fans of series like Downton Abbey would enjoy.
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8. The English Game (2020)
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes also worked on Netflix miniseries The English Game. The English Game follows the story of the beautiful game, football. In the 1870s, football was still very much an upper class game, until a working class footballer changed the history of the game forever.
The English Game got favorable reviews upon the miniseries’ release on Netflix, and is a great look at a rarely examined part of English history, which is its sports history, as most shows like Downton Abbey usually focus on the aristocracy, politics and general culture of the times.You have to give this one a watch.
9. Jane Eyre (1983)
In Jane Eyre, we have a new adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte novel of the same name. It centers on the orphaned Jane Eyre, played by Georgie Henley, who is hired by Mrs. Fairfax to act as governess for a young Adele, played by Cosima Littlewood, who is the ward of the master of the house.
The master of the house is Edward Rochester, who begins to grow a liking for the young Jane Eyre, whom a relationship. It’s a fascinating period piece that doesn’t tamper with the source material in any way, instead choosing to play it straight in terms of its storytelling. If you’re looking for more period pieces like Downton Abbey, there aren’t many better choices.
10. Outlander (2014)
Outlander is another British period piece set around war time. Similar to shows like Downton Abbey. Outlander follows the story of a married nurse named Claire Ranadall who time travels to 18th century Scotland, and finds herself falling in love with a warrior known as Jamie Fraser.
Outlander is based on the Outlander novel series written by Diana Gabaidon. Claire Randall has to survive being thrown into an unfamiliar timeline, and a ruthless forefather-in-law. It’s a faithful adaptation of the source material and a show that remained consistently excellent from start to finish.
11. Victoria (2015)
Similar to shows like Downton Abbey and most especially The Crown. Instead of Queen Victoria, we’re treated to the story about the ascension to the throne of Queen Victoria, the lead up to her marriage to Prince Albert, as well as her political responsibilities ranging from the 1830s to the 1850s.
It has even been compared to Downton Abbey for its soap opera style, and historical accuracy, especially in terms of set and costume design, as well as the strong acting performances by Jenna Coleman and Rufus Sewell, who play Victoria and Lord Melbourne respectively. Go ahead and add this onto your list.
12. The Forsyte Saga (2002)
The Forsyte Saga might just be the original Downton Abbey, well for the slightly upper class. This show follows the story of three generations of an upper middle class family living in England and dealing with their status as “new money” while hoping to keep climbing the social and class ladder.
It features Damian Lewis in one of his first star roles as Soames Forsyte, a solicitor and the breadwinner of the Forsyte family. His performance was a bright spot throughout the show’s runtime and the show did get an overall great reception from fans and critics alike, it’s one that I have no doubt that lovers of series like Downton Abbey will enjoy.
13. Upstairs, Downstairs (1971)
Regarded by some as the original Downton Abbey, Upstairs, Downstairs is a 1971 TV series which, similar to shows like Downton Abbey, follows the lives of an aristocratic family, who live upstairs, and their servants and maids who are accommodated downstairs.
It touches upon the slow decline of the British Aristocracy during the Post-Edwardian era, and deals with other historical storylines like the First World War, women suffrage and the Wall Street Crash. If you’re okay with some grainy visuals, then you will have no problem enjoying Upstairs, Downstairs.
14. Harlots (2017)
We move deep into the underbelly of English society in the show Harlots. We are given a look into the world of city brothels, and a lifestyle which characters in shows like Downton Abbey would no doubt turn their noses as. Harlots follows the story of Margaret Wells, who runs a brothel in 18th century London, to make ends meet for herself and her daughters.
Harlots does away with all the romanticism of shows usually set around this era, and gives us a gritty look into how the common man lived and made ends meet at the time. It’s a sometimes uncomfortable show that cuts deep in terms of its themes while not neglecting to keep things light and fun from time to time.
15. Gilded Age (2022)
Gilded Age is the final series similar to Downton Abbey, and for quite a number of reasons. It centers on Carrie Coon’s Bertha Russell who has married into a newly rich family and is trying to navigate her way through her new social class, environment and her marriage.
It’s a show with an outstanding cast of characters, and with some great set and costume design. It’s a good portrayal of the lives of the rich and powerful in the English society at the time, and just like all the other shows on this list, it comes highly recommended for you.
Here are some more great series like Downton Abbey that is full of dramatic storylines, romance, and comedy:
1. Parade’s End (2012)
2. Mr. Selfridge (2013)
3. Vanity Fair (2018)