Historical Dramas to Stream Right Now
If you’re a fan of historical drama—the genre that delivers fact and fiction, romance and betrayal, and power and intrigue and secrets galore—you’ll love these historical dramas to stream when you watch with PBS Passport, an added member benefit, right now! Note: Full episode streaming is only available within the United States.
The Miniaturist | Three Episodes
Period: Set in the lush and black-drenched city of Amsterdam in 1686—think of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch—The Miniaturist brings the world of Dutch Golden Age to life with its opulence, repressed sensuality, and ambition.
Drama: Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit, The Witch) plays 18-year-old Nella Oortman, who arrives in Amsterdam to meet her wealthy merchant husband only to be plunged into his mysterious household of secrets and lies, where a miniature replica of their prosperous house augers eerie coincidences and ever-increasing danger.
Beecham House | One Season
Period: Set in the 1795 Delhi, amidst the clashing forces of British and French militaries and the decline of the centuries-old Mughal Empire, Beecham House tells the story of enigmatic Englishman and former soldier John Beecham.
Drama: When John Beecham (Tom Bateman, Vanity Fair, Murder on the Orient Express) arrives at his grand new Delhi estate to great fanfare, the presence of a (mixed-race and apparently motherless) baby is more than just a surprise to the staff—it’s a mystery that only deepens as he falls for English governess Margaret Osbourne. As his overbearing mother (Downton Abbey‘s Lesley Nicol, in a very un-Miss Patmore turn!) his rebellious brother (Leo Suter, Sanditon and Victoria), and even more complicated guests arrive, politics, passion, ambition and revenge collide, all under the roof of Beecham House.
Les Misérables | Six Episodes
Period: Love, death, and the struggle for social justice in early 19th-century France feature in this beautifully faithful retelling of one of the world’s most beloved stories, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.
Drama: Twisted fates, a cat-and-mouse game, tragedy, and—above all else—love, feature in this epic six-part drama. Dominic West stars as fugitive Jean Valjean, with David Oyelowo as his pursuer Inspector Javert and Lily Collins as the luckless single mother Fantine. The distinguished British cast also includes Academy Award winner Olivia Colman (The Crown, The Favourite, Broadchurch) as Madame Thénardier, Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies) as Cosette, and Josh O’Connor (Emma, The Crown , The Durrells in Corfu) as Marius.
The Long Song | Three Episodes
Period: In a story of endurance, passion and hope, The Long Song is told through the eyes of July, an enslaved woman and a spirited survivor. Exploring the last days of slavery in British-ruled Jamaica, The Long Song brings to life what is considered the largest rebellion of enslaved people in the British Caribbean, the “Christmas Rebellion” of 1831.
Drama: The story unfolds at the Amity sugar plantation, where the strong-willed July (Tamara Lawrance, King Charles III, On Chesil Beach) is working as a lady’s maid for Caroline Mortimer (Hayley Atwell, Howard’s End, The Duchess, Captain America: The First Avenger). When Robert Goodwin, a new overseer at Amity arrives, both July and Caroline are intrigued by his revolutionary spirit and intent to improve the working conditions on the plantation. But the winds of change across the hot plantation fields end up fanning severe consequences.
Victoria | Three Seasons
Period: In 1837, a diminutive, neglected teenager is crowned Queen Victoria, navigates the scandal, corruption, and political intrigues of the court, and soon rises to become the most powerful woman in the world.
Drama: Victoria dramatizes the romance and reign of the passionate young monarch finding her voice, her power, and the love of her life as a woman, a wife, a mother, and the ruler of an empire. Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) as Victoria, Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle) as Lord Melbourne, and Tom Hughes (Dancing on the Edge) as Prince Albert star.
World on Fire | Season 1
Period: World on Fire follows the lives of ordinary people coping with the most monumental war in human history, tracing the interweaved fates of several families in 1939 and 1940, from the Nazi invasion of Poland, to the near debacle at Dunkirk, to the fall of Paris and beyond.
Drama: Love, death, heroism, and forgiveness bind together the characters from England, France, Germany, Poland, and America as their stories weave in and out of each other’s, and as the world changes around them. Helen Hunt (As Good As it Gets, Mad About You) a plays an American war reporter; Sean Bean (Game of Thrones) plays a pacifist and WWI vet; Jonah Hauer-King (The Little Mermaid, Little Women, Howard’s End) plays a young Englishman working as a translator for the British embassy in Warsaw, and Lesley Manville (Magpie Murders, Phantom Thread) plays his wealthy, complicated mother.
Period: When Nazi forces mounted an overwhelming surprise attack on Norway and Denmark on April 9, 1940, Norway’s King Haakon VII called on his subjects to resist. It fell to Norway’s Crown Princess Martha, having fled to American, to appeal for help for her country in friend Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Drama: A princess steals the heart of the president of the United States in Atlantic Crossing, an epic drama based on the World War II relationship of Franklin Roosevelt and Norwegian Crown Princess Martha. Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, Sex and the City) stars as Roosevelt, opposite Swedish star Sofia Helin (The Bridge) as the beautiful Martha, who flees the Nazis with her three young children and lives under Roosevelt’s protection.
Mrs. Wilson | Three Episodes
Period: During the Blitz, young Alison McElvie meets dashing MI6 agent Alec Wilson, and a wartime love affair leads to their marriage. But this central love story that begins in 1940 in London is just one part of the mystery that Alison Wilson traces back to 1930s India and unravels in the suburbs, in 1963.
Drama: Mrs. Wilson is a spy thriller and a totally gripping journey that will have you gasping with disbelief and marveling that the truth really is stranger than fiction! It’s based on the true story of actress Ruth Wilson’s (Jane Eyre, Luther, The Affair) grandmother, Alison, who discovered, upon the sudden death of her husband Alec, that he had another, secret family. But the secrets don’t stop there! And it’s up to Alison to prevent her family and her world from being torn apart as she unravels them, one at a time.
Ridley Road | Four Episodes
Period: It’s summer 1962, and London is swinging with new music, hip fashions, and an irresistible hedonistic spirit. It’s also seething with antisemitic violence incited by homegrown neo-Nazis. Inspired by true events, Ridley Road depicts a surprising slice of British history involving the rise of fascism and the courageous souls taking a stand against it.
Drama: Vivien Epstein goes from humdrum hairdresser to amateur spy when she follows ex-boyfriend Jack to London, discovers that he’s embedded within an extreme right-wing political movement and covertly feeding intelligence to Jewish activists, and then suddenly goes silent. Vivien boldly charms her way into the fascist group’s upper ranks to uncover what’s happened to him.