By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Yes, it’s me again. My brother has a good excuse for being absent this morning. In fact, one could even say he has been in a fog. This past week he was playing a special role – Father of Groom. His youngest child, and only son, Jeff, got married over the weekend. It was a fabulous affair but I’m not going to provide any spoilers. My brother will be back next week with a full description of the festivities and pictures of the highlights. Instead, I’m going to follow up on my post of last week because several of you (okay, maybe it was three) asked me for recommendations for the British shows I’m streaming in lieu of the news. I’ll start with some of the ones I’ve already watched and then provide the results of my research on the subject. Fair warning: everyone has different tastes. For example, Fleabag on Amazon’s Prime Video ran away with the Emmy awards. I watched two episodes and just couldn’t get excited about it. So, for better or worse, here are my recommendations.
- Downton Abby (Amazon) – This is first because it’s so obvious. You need to watch this if you are at all interested in English lifestyles and good acting. There’s a reason it was renewed for six seasons and now is a feature film. It has some unexpected twists and the high-arch eyebrow of Maggie Smith’s tart observations.
- Victoria (Amazon and PBS) – This is still a current offering from the PBS Masterpiece Theater program, with Season 4 due out this winter. But you can catch up on the first three seasons on Amazon. Again, great history and the bonus of getting to see Victoria’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Dash, for whom my CKCS was named.
- The Crown (Netflix and HBO) – Just when you thought this series couldn’t get any better they announced that the delightful and very talented Olivia Coleman is going to take over the role of Queen Elizabeth and the quirky Helena Bonham Carter will play Princess Margaret in the next season. I can’t wait!
- Broadchurch (Netflix) – speaking of Olivia Coleman, she co-stars in this murder mystery that carries on over three seasons. Well worth watching. In fact, I recommended it to a friend and she thanked me for it. So…you’re welcome.
- The Fall (Netflix) – hurry up if you want to watch this because it goes off of Netflix at the end of October. Like Broadchurch, it is a three season series that continues the same storyline about a mass murderer in Belfast throughout all three seasons. Okay, not exactly light viewing but it stars Gillian Anderson and she is reason enough to watch.
- The Great British Baking Show (Netflix) – I needed something a little joyful after watching The Fall so what better to turn to than this wonderful show that features 12 bakers each season vying to become the best baker in Britain. After all, there is cake involved. Lots of cake. The contestants are engaging and it’s actually interesting to compare desserts across the pond from what we typically serve here. The first few seasons featured the lovely Mary Cherry (yes, that’s really her name) but frankly all of the hosts and comedians they feature on the show have been terrific.
- Sherlock (Netflix) – This program aired on PBS for a few years but now you can stream all four seasons. The plots are always tricky, as in hard to figure out, and Benedict Cumberbatch is so fun to watch. There are rumors about a Season 5 – let’s hope so.
- Poldark (Amazon) – Again, this is a Masterpiece Theater program that is currently showings the fifth and final season on PBS, but you can catch up on the first four seasons on Amazon. The series takes place in Cornwall and the stunning views of the cliffs and countryside alone make it worth watching. The story is very compelling – good guys vs. bad, poor vs rich, workers vs dandies. WELL worth watching.
- Call the Midwife (Netflix) – For a wonderful throw-back show you can’t do much better than this The series starts in the 1950’s, featuring midwives in East London, still riding bicycles to their appointments and delivering babies at home. This show is also still current, with the latest season taking place in the mid-60’s. It is fascinating to follow the progression of societal norms and maternity practices, not to mention hairstyles and music, over that decade.
I could go on keep going but I do want to get to some of the shows that came up in just about every result in my research for “best British shows to stream”. So, here they are in no particular order: The Bodyguard (Netflix), A Very English Scandal (Amazon), Peaky Blinders (Netflix), Lovesick (Netflix), Happy Valley (Netflix), Luther (Netflix), The IT Crowd (Netflix), Father Brown (Netflix) and Doc Martin (Acorn).
Finally, if you want to skip back to this side of the pond and feel good about yourself, Netflix offers Nailed It!, an American take-off on the British baking shows. The contestants are shown a lovely dessert drawn from the impossible-to-replicate photos on Pinterest and then asked to create it. There are three seasons ready for streaming and it’s worth watching for the humor and to see just how out of touch people are about their baking abilities. Honestly, by the end you’ll feel so much better about your lopsided birthday cake.
If you have any recommendations please share them in the “Comments” section here. After all, we’re going into an election year and we need to get prepared.