With Season 5 of Downton Abbey currently airing in America at the moment, we finally get to continue the addicting story of the Crawley family and their servants, perhaps getting answers to important questions along the way. Who did Mary choose? When will Miss Bunting take a much needed hike from Tom’s life and our living rooms? Will Edith find a way to have her child without everyone finding out her secret? Will Carson and Mrs. Hughes ever get together? Oh, and did Bates kill Anna’s rapist?
This season has plenty to hold our interest week after week thanks to Violet’s always hilarious one-liners and of course compelling characters and plot twists that just suck you in…But what happens when Downton comes to an end for another year (already the case for Britain)? What could possibly fill the void of a Downton Abbey addiction? I give you 25 TV shows that should just about satisfy your Downton Abbey craving:
The Top 25 Downton Abbey Like Shows
(In Alphabetical Order)
#1: Anzac Girls (2014)
An Australian import now streaming on Acorn TV, Anzac Girls is set during WWI and follows the amazing lives of the young nurses who go off to war to help the soldiers.
#2: A Place to Call Home (2013)
Labeled by some as the “Australian Downton Abbey,” this show is now on my must see list (available online at Acorn TV). Set after WWII, the story follows Sarah who returns to Australia and meets the wealthy Bligh family. Secrets and romance of course ensues!
#3: Berkeley Square (1998)
While unfortunately cut short due to cancelation, Berkeley is still worth every episode. The Series follows three Edwardian nannies in upper class homes.
#4: Call the Midwife (2012)
With just as stellar production design and costumes, you can’t go wrong with the heartwarming optimism of Call the Midwife. Yes, there’s romance, but this show focuses more on female friendship. The series is about a group of midwives and nuns who deliver babies in East London during the 1950s. Based on a true story, you can’t go wrong with this humorous, yet very emotional period drama.
#5: Campion (1989)
Starring Peter Davison (Doctor Who), and set during the 1930s, Campion is about the aristocratic Albert Campion who uses pseudonyms to solve crimes in the midst of the upper class as well as below the stairs too…all with the help of his manservant (once a burglar) Lugg. A great show for those who love a good sleuthing mystery!
#6: Cranford/Return to Cranford (2007)
I debated whether to include this one as it is more of a mini-series, but since there were 2 “seasons,” I decided to include Cranford and its sequel, Return to Cranford. Like Downton, themes of change (this time it is about the industrial revolution) are a major focus, the story following an ensemble of interesting characters in all ways of life. This is definitely one of the best period dramas out there with unforgettable performances too.
#7: The Duchess of Duke Street (1976)
In this 1970s period drama, The Duchess of Duke Street proves even cooks have ambition. A young Gemma Jones is fabulous in this!
#8: The Forsyte Saga (2002)
Like Downton, Forsyte follows the lives of a British family. Forsyte deals with forbidden love, class problems, and family relationships over a long time frame (1870s to 1920). A beautiful production with complex characters to love and hate. Look for a young Ioan Gruffudd too…
#9: Foyle’s War (2002)
While not quite an upstairs, downstairs kind of show, it doesn’t matter because the show is also about war (WWII in this case) with characters and stories to love just or almost as much as Downton Abbey. I dare anyone not to like Sam…
#10: The Grand (1997)
From the same school as Upstairs, Downstairs, The Grand is about the servants and the family who runs the hotel. From Russell T. Davies (Doctor Who), there is a lot to enjoy in this soapy period drama set soon after WWI. The Grand is imperfect, but intriguing, and also features Susan Hampshire and Stephen Moyer (True Blood).
#11: Grand Hotel (2011)
Seasons 1 and 2 are currently available on Netflix, while season 3 of this Spanish gem has just started airing in Britain. Some call this the “Spanish Downton Abbey,” and I couldn’t agree more. The star-crossed romance and the twisty (and soapy) plots are so gripping that a few episodes in, you might just enter into binge territory. Wonderful, wonderful show about a hotel’s family and their servants. Extra points for a young Agatha Christie making an appearance or two…
#12: The House of Eliott (1991)
If you love the twenties, then you will love this period drama TV series about two sisters who must become dressmakers after their father dies, leaving them with only debt. There are soapy elements, but then again Downton does too.
#13: Lark Rise to Candleford (2008)
From the creator of The Paradise, Lark Rise is about how Laura Timmins leaves Lark Rise (a town more focused on living in the past) to work in the post office in Candleford, a market town. What follows are optimistic stories about the people who live in these two towns and the differences between them (‘Mr. Bates’ also plays one of the main characters). Of course, there is plenty of period drama romance to go around too!
#14: Lilies (2007)
Set after WWI, this canceled too soon series follows the lives of 3 Catholic sisters in a time when the world is beginning to change. Coming from the writer (Heidi Thomas) of Call the Midwife really says something about the quality of the writing. Available to stream on Acorn TV.
#15: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012)
For those who love the twenties and a good murder mystery (better than the Anna/Bates one), you must check out the entertaining Miss Fisher. The story follows Miss Phryne Fisher, female private investigator extraordinaire, who solves crimes with her golden pistol, witty charm, and of course with the help of handsome Detective Inspector Jack Robinson. Available on Netflix and Acorn TV…
#16: Miss Marple (2004)
Who doesn’t love Miss Marple? While each episode is a stand-alone mystery, this wonderful mystery series always includes attention-grabbing, sometimes even Downton like characters that will keep you guessing who did it until the very end. Perhaps it was the butler in the library…
#17: Monarch of the Glen (2000)
About an heir of a large estate that doesn’t want to be an heir…sound familiar? If you don’t mind that the show takes place in modern day, Monarch is a lot of light-hearted fun. The story is about Archie who gets called back home to Scotland and discovers he is now the Laird of Glenbogle. There’s romance, humor, and of course Julian Fellowes (the creator of Downton Abbey) as a major recurring character Kilwillie (he’s actually really funny). You can find this on DVD or streaming on Netflix.
#18: Mr. Selfridge (2013)
While it took me longer to warm to Selfridge, once you do there’s no going back. Yes, it has darker themes than Downton, but it is just as well written. Like The Paradise, the show is about the upstairs and downstairs of a department store with an interesting ensemble of characters to root for.
#19: The Pallisers (1974)
Based on the novels by Anthony Trollope, The Pallisers is a captivating period drama set in Victorian England. The saga follows a family for three generations and is a political drama about power. The story begins when Lady Glencora (Susan Hampshire) is forced to marry a rising politician named Palliser. Truly addicting!
#20: The Paradise (2012)
Instead of an estate, we get a department store in the late 1800’s. For those who love a good period romance, the love story between shop girl Denise and shop owner Moray is very romantic. This is a wonderful look at ambition and also Britain’s class system with characters so developed, they feel real. This title is also on Netflix!
#21: Poirot (1989)
Another TV series based on the other beloved Agatha Christie novels, Poirot follows a Belgian detective as he solves murders. Like Miss Marple, each episode stands alone. This is a very entertaining choice for those who like to think.
#22: The Time In Between (2013)
Available on Drama Fever and Hulu, The Time In Between (also known as El Tiempo Entre Costuras) is another amazing period drama series that will suck you into its addicting world. While there are a few moments of over the top cheese in the romance, there’s a lot to love in this story about a young dressmaker during the Spanish Civil War.
#23: Upstairs, Downstairs (1971)
Basically, the original Downton Abbey, but instead of following the Crawley family and their servants, Upstairs follows the upstairs and downstairs of the Bellamy household in their London townhouse.
#24: Upstairs, Downstairs (2010)
A modern continuation of the ‘70s classic. This time around, a new family and servants live in the same London Townhouse. This is a great period drama, but not ‘quite’ as engaging as Downton. Definitely still worth a look though thanks to the memorable cast. You can stream this title on Amazon Prime.
#25: Velvet (2013)
A Spanish import now on Netflix (with English subtitles), Velvet is must see TV for all the romantics out there. The show really goes all out with the star crossed love story between seamstress Ana and Alberto, the man who runs a huge fashion store.
What are your favorite Downton Abbey replacements? Did we miss your favorites? Share with us in the comments below!
Check out our other Top Lists! We put up new lists on Wednesdays.