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50 of the Best PBS Passport Shows to Watch (2023)

From Masterpiece period dramas and mysteries, inspirational documentaries, foreign dramas, and more, find out the best of what PBS Passport offers and how to help your local PBS station.

PBS Passport is a unique streaming service because it’s a member benefit to supporters of the not-for-profit organization, PBS. So, when you donate to PBS, you’re given access to the extended version of the PBS Video streaming app – which includes more than 1000 PBS programs to watch.

PBS passport shows collage

There is much to discover, from quality PBS Passport shows like Finding Your Roots to period dramas on PBS Passport like Poldark.

But what exactly is PBS Passport, how do you gain access, is it worth it, and how do you navigate the best of what to watch on PBS passport?

Let’s break it down.


PBS Passport is, in simple terms: a gift to supporters of the PBS Non-Profit Organization.

This “gift” is Passport, a video streaming app full of Masterpiece shows, documentaries, foreign dramas, new premieres, a rotating selection of films, exclusive content, and more. The PBS Passport library has more than 1000 episodes, with new content regularly added.

RELATED: 27 New and Returning Shows to Watch on PBS and PBS’ Masterpiece in 2023

What also makes the Passport app unique is that each member’s version of PBS Passport differs based on their local TV station.

Your donation goes to your local station, and when you sign into the app, besides the content available to all eligible PBS supporters, you’ll also discover local content relevant to your state.

That’s a nice Passport benefit.

For more details, make sure to check out the PBS website.


Even though your local PBS station is free, as is the PBS Video app, PBS Passport is not a free streaming service. You must donate at least $60 a year or $5/month of ongoing monthly gifts to access it.

Thus, to be a supporter and have a passport account, you would need to donate to your local PBS station. In the United States, a member’s donation is tax-deductible and helps bring inspirational, entertaining, and educational content to viewers across the U.S.

So, while the PBS video app is free, you’ll need to donate to watch the exclusive Passport content. How much you donate beyond the minimum is your choice.


Access to Passport requires only a few simple steps.

Step 1: Become a Member

First, become a member. There’s even a “Become a Member” button. You’ll need to select your closest local station and make a donation. You should receive a confirmation email from your local station thanking you.

Once the PBS team processes your donation, you will receive activation instructions for PBS Passport.

Step 2: Activate

The next step is to activate your benefit. The benefit is not typically instant, like signing up for other streaming services. When your donation’s processed and your Passport extra is ready, your PBS station will send you an activation code with four words or an activation link.

You will then enter your code on the activation page. Select “Continue.”

From there, you’ll see a screen containing information regarding your membership and PBS station. Sign in with your PBS (you can create one with your email address), Facebook, or Google account.

This email will be the same one you use to sign into the video app.

After signing in, make sure to “Confirm” to continue. And now, press the “Get Started” button.

Step 3: Sign In

The third step is to sign into your account with the Passport benefit. Visit PBS.org and “Sign in.” Ensure you use the same login information you used to link your account during the activation process.

You should see your name displayed on the upper left side of the website. Make sure you can see the blue Passport compass rose next to your name. This symbol means your account has been successfully linked to the benefit.

Step 4: Watch

You can now start watching the Passport videos! You can watch them on PBS.org or the PBS Video app. It’s important to note that there is no separate PBS passport app from the official free PBS app.

However, if your account links to the Passport benefit, you can watch extra content unavailable to other public television viewers.

The app is available on Apple TV devices, Vizio, Amazon Fire, Android devices, Samsung Smart TVs, Chromecast, and your Roku device.

If you run into any trouble in this entire process, contact PBS for technical help.


You may still need clarification on PBS Passport vs. the PBS Masterpiece Amazon Channel. While both include some of the same content, there are significant differences.

For one, the PBS Masterpiece Channel works like a regular streaming subscription. In comparison, Passport is an exclusive benefit for supporters of PBS. You cannot use your Amazon Channel subscription to sign into the PBS Video app.

PBS Passport and PBS Masterpiece also include different library catalogs despite some crossover.


Besides the benefits of supporting your local community and PBS station (with quality media that educates and inspires), you also get extended access to your favorite PBS TV shows and PBS period dramas!

You even get early access to dramas before they premiere. Don’t want to wait to watch the final season of Sanditon? If you donate to PBS Passport, you can binge the entire Season 3 right now.

If you’re watching the new season on PBS or the PBS Masterpiece Amazon Channel, you must wait weekly for new episodes until the finale airs in April.

Streaming early releases is an exciting new member benefit.

PBS Passport also has an extensive catalog of great content to watch. And while the service is terrific, it’s not easy to navigate beyond the featured dramas and other shows when looking for something to watch.

RELATED: Period Drama News: ‘Miss Austen’ Adaptation Is Coming to PBS Masterpiece

To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best PBS Passport shows. Whether you’re looking for a PBS period drama, a compelling mystery, some culture, or even something educational, we’ve got some excellent choices to help you get started.

Because of the numerous popular period dramas and mysteries from the Masterpiece series, I didn’t make Masterpiece one show. Instead, I separated each production and listed them as their own shows.

(Note: Availability is subject to change at any time. I last updated this list in March 2023. If I update the list, I will let you know here.)



#1 All Creatures Great and Small (2020-)

All Creatures Great and Small Season 3 cast photo
James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph), Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton), Tristan Farnon (Callum Woodhouse). Top Line: Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West), Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley). Credit: Courtesy of (C) Playground Entertainment.

PBS Synopsis

James Herriot’s adventures as a veterinarian in 1930’s Yorkshire get a glorious new adaptation in a seven-part series based on his beloved books. Exciting newcomer Nicholas Ralph will make his television debut as the iconic vet who became renowned for his inspiring humor, compassion and love of life.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

All Creatures Great and Small is one of the most underrated television shows. With fantastic acting, heartwarming stories, authentic love stories, and cute animals, this PBS period drama series, inspired by real-life people, is as good as television gets. 

See our review for more on this delightful show.

Content Note: TV-PG

#2 American Experience (1987-)

American Experience Logo

PBS Synopsis: 

American Experience, TV’s most-watched history series, brings to life the compelling stories from our past that inform our understanding of the world today.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

American Experience includes hundreds of documentaries exploring America’s past – showing its triumphs and losses in an educational but balanced way. The high-production values, excellent storytelling, and research make this history series a top-notch choice for anyone interested in history. 

Content Note: Ranges from TV-PG to TV-14 for thematic content.

#3 American Masters (1985-)

American Masters PBS photo
Credit: Courtesy of WNET/American Masters

PBS Synopsis: 

American Masters, committed to producing comprehensive film biographies about the broad cast of characters who comprise our cultural history.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

American Masters includes fascinating biographical documentaries about intriguing people throughout history. It’s won 27 Primetime Emmys with numerous more nominations.

Content Note: TV-14

#4 Annika (2021-)

Ukweli Roach as Tyrone and Nicola Walker as Annika.
Ukweli Roach as Tyrone and Nicola Walker as Annika. Credit: Courtesy of © UKTV

PBS Synopsis: 

Annika stars Nicola Walker (Unforgotten, Last Tango in Halifax) as DI Annika Strandhed, the dry-witted, speedboat-driving head of Glasgow’s newly-formed Marine Homicide Unit, who juggles baffling cases and a rebellious teenage daughter.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

The Masterpiece mystery series stars Nicola Walker – who always brings a unique empathy to her performances. With Walker in the lead, you really can’t go wrong if you enjoy a good British mystery show.

Content Note: TV-14 for violence and language.

#5 Antiques Roadshow (1997-)

Antiques Roadshow logo
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW logo. Credit: Courtesy of WGBH Boston

PBS Synopsis: 

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is part adventure, part history lesson, and part treasure hunt! Watch as specialists from the country’s leading auction houses and independent dealers offer free appraisals of antiques and collectibles, revealing fascinating truths about family treasures and flea market finds.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

There is something addictive about this PBS series as you watch collectors and everyday people get their antiques appraised. 

Content Note: TV-G

#6 Around the World in 80 Days (2021-)

around the world in 80 days featured image with David Tennant
Around the World in 80 Days with David Tennant. Photo: Ibrahim Koma as Jean Passepartout, David Tennant as Phileas Fogg, and Leonie Benesch as Abigail “Fix” Fortescue. Credit: Courtesy of Federation Entertainment

PBS Synopsis: 

Get ready to set sail in the hot air balloon with Phileas Fogg, Passepartout and Fix in a brand-new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel Around the World in 80 Days, starring David Tennant.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Around the World in 80 Days is just pure fun! It’s full of adventure, romance, great characters, and charismatic actors, and it is all-around entertaining to watch. If you love Doctor Who’s historical episodes, you’ll love this new British series.

See our review of Around the World in 80 Days for more information.

Content Note: TV-PG

#7 Atlantic Crossing (2020)

Atlantic Crossing publicity image
Credit: Julie Vrabelova

PBS Synopsis: 

A princess steals the heart of the president of the United States in 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 Martha.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Atlantic Crossing is a compelling miniseries about the friendship (and sort-of romance) between President Roosevelt and a Norwegian Princess during WWII.

Besides the strong cast, the language in Norwegian and English makes this drama unique – giving the miniseries a more authentic feel.

Content Note: TV-14 for some sensuality, language, and frightening situations.

#8 Baptiste (2019-2021)

Baptiste poster

PBS Synopsis: 

Tcheky Karyo revives his role as French detective Julien Baptiste in this spinoff of “The Missing.” While visiting his daughter in Amsterdam, Baptiste becomes drawn into a missing persons case that may be connected to a human trafficking gang.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Watch for the charismatic actor Tchéky Karyo as detective Julien Baptiste. You also won’t want to miss Fiona Shaw in Season 2. 

Content Note: TV-MA for some nudity, severe violence, and strong language.

#9 Beecham House (2019)

Beecham House promo image

PBS Synopsis: 

Gurinder Chadha’s (Bend it Like Beckham) drama Beecham House is set in 19th century Delhi before the British ruled in that region. Tom Bateman steps into the role of John Beecham, a handsome former soldier who has purchased the mansion, Beecham House, to begin a new life. The cast includes Lesley Nicol (Downton Abbey), Gregory Fitoussi (Mr. Selfridge), Adil Ray, Pallavi Sharda, and others.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

If you love romantic period dramas, diverse casts, and swoony leading men, Beecham House is for you. It was canceled, so there is a cliffhanger in the last five minutes.

However, it has a nice wrap-up if you quit watching after everything seems settled and lovely.

Content Note: TV-14 for some mild violence.

#10 Broadchurch (2013-2017)

Broadchurch season 1 promo image
DS Ellie Miller and DI Alec Hardy – BROADCHURCH “Episode One.” Credit: Courtesy of Kudos Film and Television Limited

PBS Synopsis: 

When a young boy is murdered, this small town of Broadchurch in Dorset suddenly becomes the focus of a major event in the full glare of the media spotlight. DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) lead the investigation, as one by one the community of Broadchurch are drawn into the police inquiry, starting with the immediate family, and then radiating outward.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

David Tennant and Olivia Colman star in this mystery series that became a pop culture phenomenon. Broadchurch is one show you won’t be able to stop watching.

The acting in this is simply incredible, too.

Content Note: TV-MA for a moderate amount of violence, some strong language, adult/disturbing themes, and brief sexuality.

#11 Call the Midwife (2012-)

Call the Midwife promo photo
Nurse Phyllis Crane (LINDA BASSETT), Nurse Trixie (HELEN GEORGE), Nurse Lucille Anderson (LEONIE ELLIOTT). Credit: Courtesy of Neil Street Productions

PBS Synopsis: 

Call the Midwife follows the nurses, midwives and nuns from Nonnatus House, who visit the expectant mothers of Poplar, providing the poorest women with the best possible care.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Call the Midwife is inspired by the real-life memoirs of Jennifer Worth and is storytelling at its finest. With memorable performances, lovable characters, emotional storylines, and consistently excellent writing, the British historical drama is must-see entertainment.

Content Note: TV-14 for birthing scenes.

#12 Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)

death comes to pemberley promo phot
Credit: Origin/Masterpiece co-production/BBC

PBS Synopsis: 

Six years after Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy have prevailed, the caddish Mr. Wickam and the frivolous Mrs. Bennet, a coach races up to Pemberley, Darcy’s palatial estate, with an hysterical Lydia shrieking, “Murder!” So continues Jane Austen’s timeless classic, Pride and Prejudice, in Death Comes to Pemberley, a star-studded adaptation of crime-writer P.D. James’ bestselling whodunit.

Why You Should Check It Out: The all-star cast in this Jane Austen retelling includes Matthew Rhys, Anna Maxwell Martin, Matthew Goode, Jenna Coleman, Eleanor Tomlinson, James Norton, and more.

This miniseries adaptation is pure gold with mystery, romance, and beloved characters.

See our review of Death Comes to Pemberley for more reasons!

Content Note: TV-14 for mild violence, sensuality, and thematic elements.

#13 Downton Abbey (2010-2015)

Where to Watch Downton Abbey featured image. The photo is of the Crawley sisters (played by Jessica Brown Findlay, Laura Carmichael, and Michelle Dockery).
The photo is of the Crawley sisters (played by Jessica Brown Findlay, Laura Carmichael, and Michelle Dockery). Credit: ITV/Carnival Films/WGBH-TV

PBS Synopsis: 

Downton Abbey, the award-winning series from Julian Fellowes, spans 12 years of gripping drama centered on a great English estate on the cusp of a vanishing way of life. The series follows the Granthams and their family of servants through sweeping change, scandals, love, ambition, heartbreak, and hope.

Why You Should Check It Out: Downton Abbey became a pop culture phenomenon and is now considered one of the best television shows ever.

With witty dialogue, epic love stories, intelligent writing, gorgeous costumes, and memorable music score, Downton Abbey is a drama you can watch again and again.

Content Note: TV-PG for mild sensuality, war scenes, thematic elements, and an assault.

#14 Endeavour (2012-2023)

Roger Allam as Thursday and Shaun Evans as Morse in Endeavour season 8, episode 1.
Roger Allam as Thursday and Shaun Evans as Morse. Credit: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen and MASTERPIECE.

PBS Synopsis: 

Shaun Evans (The Take, The Last Weekend, Silk), charms audiences with his portrayal of the cerebral and solitary Detective Constable Morse in Endeavour, written by Inspector Lewis creator and Inspector Morse writer Russell Lewis.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Due to excellent writing and strong performances, Endeavour is one of the best mystery shows ever created. Romance fans will also enjoy the unspoken love between Joan Thursday and DS Endeavour Morse.

The final season premieres on PBS in June 2023.

Content Note: TV-14 for a moderate amount of violence and adult themes.

#15 Finding Your Roots (2012-)

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in Finding Your Roots
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Credit: Courtesy of PBS

PBS Synopsis: 

For more than a decade, renowned Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has helped to expand America’s sense of itself, stimulating a national conversation about identity with humor, wisdom, and compassion. Professor Gates has explored the ancestry of dozens of influential people from diverse backgrounds, taking millions of viewers deep into the past to reveal the connections that bind us all.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Finding Your Roots may give you the genealogy bug to want to explore your own family roots. There is something beautiful about seeing people connect to their family’s history and how we are all connected.

Content Note: TV-PG

#16 Flesh and Blood (2020)

Flesh and Blood Cast photo on the beach
Credit: ITV

PBS Synopsis: 

Imelda Staunton and Francesca Annis star in a mystery about late-life romance. Claudie Blakley, Russell Tovey, and Lydia Leonard play the grown-up children of Annis’s character. Stephen Rae is her new gentleman friend. Staunton stars as the inquisitive next-door neighbor. And David Bamber is the detective who tries to work out whether an unfortunate incident was an accident or a heinous crime.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

It’s hard to beat this quality of a cast in this British crime drama.

Content Note: TV-14 for some strong language and adult themes.

#17 Frankie Drake Mysteries (2017-2021)

frankie drake mysteries poster

PBS Synopsis: 

Set in 1920s Toronto, the series follows the adventures of Frankie Drake (Lauren Lee Smith) and her partner Trudy Clarke (Chantel Riley) at Drake Private Detectives, the city’s only all-female detective agency, as they find themselves fighting crime in the age of flyboys, gangsters, rum-runners, and speakeasies.

Why You Should Check It Out: Fans of Miss Fisher or Miss Scarlet should check out this Canadian detective series. 

Content Note: TV-PG

#18 Grantchester (2014-)

Tom Brittney as Rev. Will Davenport and Robson Green as DI Geordie Keating in Grantchester season 6.
Tom Brittney as Rev. Will Davenport and Robson Green as DI Geordie Keating. Credit: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE and Kudos

PBS Synopsis: 

Tom Brittney stars as Will Davenport, with Robson Green as his law-enforcement ally, Inspector Geordie Keating, in Grantchester. Although Will lives the life of a clergyman, sometimes he can’t help but fall into more worldly habits as he solves murders in the bucolic village of Grantchester.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

While PBS now promotes Tom Brittney as the lead, the first few seasons of Grantchester starred James Norton. Both do a great job in this compelling mystery series. 

Content Note: TV-14 for suggestive content, adult themes, alcohol use, mild violence, and mild language.

#19 Great Performances (1971-)

Great Performances poster

PBS Synopsis: 

Great Performances brings the best in the performing arts from across America and around the world to a US television audience. It presents a diverse programming portfolio of classical music, opera, popular song, musical theater, dance, drama, and performance documentaries.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

This one’s for all theater lovers! If you love Broadway and appreciate culture, music, performance, and dance, Great Performances has tons of fantastic content to explore. 

Content Note: Ranges from TV-G to TV-14 depending on the episode.

#20 Guilt (2019-)

Max and Jake in Guilt; promo image
Max (MARK BONNAR) and Jake (JAMIE SIVES). Credit: Courtesy of Expectation/Happy Tramp North 2019

PBS Synopsis: 

A drunken drive home from a wedding lands two brothers in increasingly hot water, as they commit more and more serious crimes to hide their culpability in a hit-and-run. Mark Bonnar and Jamie Sives star as the brothers, with Ruth Bradley as the victim’s niece, who falls for her uncle’s killer.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

If black comedies, Scottish humor, and compelling thrillers interest you, this one has a fantastic cast with strong writing. It is considered one of Scotland’s most acclaimed series.

Content Note: TV-14 for language, violence, and suggestive content. The PBS version does take out some of the profanity.

#21 Home Fires (2015-2016)

home fires dvd poster

PBS Synopsis: 

When a rural English town finds itself on the verge of World War II, two powerful women struggle to put aside their differences in The Women’s Institute and join forces amidst the chaos and uncertainty of wartime. Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey) and Francesca Annis (Reckless, Cranford) star in this heartwarming story of courage, friendship, and holding onto light in our darkest moments.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

If you love women’s and historical fiction, Home Fires is the show for you. While Season 2 ends on a cliffhanger, you can read the book continuation written by the showrunner. 

Home Fires is a lovely period drama series with memorable characters and performances.

Content Note: TV-PG

#22 Hotel Portofino (2022-)

Hotel Portofino PBS Review With Natascha McElhone in photo
Bella Ainsworth (NATASCHA MCELHONE). Credit: Courtesy of © Eagle Eye Drama Limited 2021.

PBS Synopsis: 

Set in the breathtakingly beautiful resort town of Portofino, this series is about personal awakening at a time of global upheaval in the traumatic aftermath of World War I.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Natascha McElhone is brilliant, as usual, in this entertaining series. While imperfect, the gorgeous scenery more than makes up for it. Plus, the series has a ton of potential for future seasons.

See our review of Hotel Portofino                                                                                                             

Content Note: TV-14 for some sensuality, language, and thematic elements.

#23 Howards End (2017)

Howards End promo image 2017
Credit: Playground Television UK/BBC/STARZ

PBS Synopsis: 

Often considered E.M. Forster’s masterpiece, Howards End is the story of two independent and unconventional sisters and the men in their lives seeking love and meaning as they navigate an ever-changing world. Kenneth Lonergan brings a fresh take to this adaptation starring Hayley Atwell, Matthew Macfadyen, Julia Ormond and Tracey Ullman.

Why You Should Check It Out: This adaptation of Howards End is a stunning romantic miniseries with period drama darlings playing beloved roles. 

Content Note: TV-PG

#24 Inspector Lewis (2006-2015)

Inspector Lewis PBS poster

PBS Synopsis: 

Kevin Whately stars as Inspector Lewis, the former working-class foil to the erudite Detective Inspector Morse. Together with his cool, cerebral partner Hathaway (Laurence Fox), Lewis tackles murder and mayhem in the seemingly-perfect academic haven of Oxford. Together, they struggle with procedural dilemmas and existential questions about their futures–on the force and in their personal lives.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Inspector Lewis is an absorbing British detective series with entertaining mysteries and distinctive characters. 

Content Note: TV-PG for some mild violence, suggestive content, and language.

#25 Jamaica Inn (2014-2015)

Jamaica Inn 2014
Jamaica Inn (2014). Credit: BBC

PBS Synopsis: 

Based on the novel by the English writer Daphne Du Maurier, Jamaica Inn is a gripping mystery that tells the story of Mary Yellan, a woman who is forced to move into the ominous Jamaica Inn with her aunt and uncle. Mary must uncover the secrets of a local group of smugglers while also managing her growing attraction to the mysterious Jem Merlyn.

Why You Should Check It Out: Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay and Matthew McNulty (Lark Rise to Candleford, The Paradise) star in this gothic-like romantic period drama adaptation. It’s gripping, swoony, and riveting – even if some lighting is too dark sometimes.

I also recommend watching with subtitles. See our review of Jamaica Inn for more information.

Content Note: TV-14 for violence, mild sensuality, and frightening situations. Be warned; Jamaica Inn is a dark series.

#26 Jamestown (2017-2019)

jamestown poster

PBS Synopsis: 

In the 17th century, on the edge of the untamed Virginian wilderness, sits the English colony. The settlement barely survived its first decade but is on the brink of change with the arrival of a new governor and 90 so-called “maids to make brides.”

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Jamestown is a gritty period drama series with a feminist twist. The men are hard to like in this series (for the most part), but the entertainment factor and compelling stories will keep you hooked.

Content Note: TV-14 for some semi-explicit sensuality, language, violence, racism, and vulgarity. 

#27 Ken Burns Collection

Ken Burns portrait photo
Ken Burns. Credit: Courtesy of Evan Barlow

PBS Synopsis: 

For more than four decades, Ken Burns and his colleagues at Florentine Films—directors, writers, producers, editors, and cinematographers—have produced some of the most critically acclaimed and most-watched documentaries on public television.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

The Ken Burns Collection includes numerous documentaries with the highest excellence. The Oscar-nominated documentarian covers topics and people from history. See the current list of Ken Burns’ available documentaries. 

Content Note: Usually, TV-PG.

#28 Land Girls (2009-2011)

Land Girls promo image
LAND GIRLS follows the lives, loves, highs and lows of four members of the Women’s Land Army who are working at the Hoxley Estate during World War II. Credit: Courtesy of BBC.

PBS Synopsis: 

Follow the lives, loves, highs, and lows of members of the Women’s Land Army working at the Hoxley Estate during World War II. As men fought on the battlefields, women from all walks of life worked the farms that fed the nation, doing their part to keep the home front running.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

If you’re a fan of soapy period dramas mixed with WWII, Land Girls is a show you should watch. It has a solid cast, too.

Content Note: TV-14 

#29 La Otra Mirada (2018-2019)

La Otra Mirada still season 2

PBS Synopsis: 

Set in 1920s Seville, where Teresa, a woman with a mysterious past, flees to a young girls’ academy with a secret goal related to the academy itself. This series portrays the journey of brave women finding their own voice.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

La Otra Mirada is a Spanish period drama full of mystery, beautiful costumes, and soapy goodness. 

Content Note: TV-14

#30 Les Miserables (2018)

Les Miserables 2018
Credit: BBC/WGBH

PBS Synopsis: 

Victor Hugo’s masterpiece comes to television in a six-part adaptation by multi- award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies. Dominic West stars as fugitive Jean Valjean, with David Oyelowo as his pursuer Inspector Javert and Lily Collins as the luckless single mother Fantine. Ellie Bamber and Josh O’Connor costar as the young lovers Cosette and Marius.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

The all-star cast also includes Olivia Colman, Adeel Akhtar, David Bradley, Erin Kellyman, Emma Fielding, Johnny Flynn, and more. The excellent cast, production values, and strong writing from Davies make this must-see entertainment.

Content Note: TV-14 for implied sensuality, violence, and thematic elements.

#31 Little Women (2017)

Little Women 2017
Credit: BBC/Playground Television UK

PBS Synopsis: 

Loved by generations of women worldwide, Little Women is a truly universal coming of age story. Set against the backdrop of the Civil War, the story follows sisters Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March on their journey from childhood to adulthood. With the help of their mother, Marmee, the girls navigate what it means to be a young woman: from sibling rivalry and first love, to loss and marriage.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

This BBC version of Little Women is sweet and endearing – even if it feels more British than American. Still, the first-rate cast shines in this production. 

Content Note: TV-PG

#32 The Long Song (2018)

The Long Song Publicity still
July (TAMARA LAWRANCE) and Caroline (HAYLEY ATWELL). Credit: Courtesy of (C) Heyday Television – Photographer: Carlos Rodriguez

PBS Synopsis: 

This three-part miniseries based on Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel about the end of slavery in Jamaica follows July (Tamara Lawrance), an indomitable, young slave who works on a sugarcane plantation with her detestable mistress, Caroline Mortimer (Hayley Atwell). Their lives change with the arrival of a new overseer, Robert Goodwin (Jack Lowden) who sets out to improve life on the plantation.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

The Long Song is an important story told from the perspective of a young enslaved person. The gorgeous drama is at times heavy and at times even humorous – but it is a quality miniseries every British period drama fan should see.

Content Note: TV-PG for scenes of slavery and cruelty.

#33 The Lucy Worsley Collection

Lucy Worsley dressed as George IV
Lucy Worsley dressed as George IV. Credit: Courtesy of Steven Mochrie/Emma Burns

Lucy Worsley Documentaries Currently Available: 

  • Lucy Worsley Investigates
  • Lucy Worsley’s 12 Days of Tudor Christmas
  • Lucy Worsley’s Royal Myths and Secrets
  • Lucy Worsley’s Royal Palace Secrets
  • Lucy Worsley’s Royal Photo Album
  • Tales from the Royal Bedchamber
  • Tales from the Royal Wardrobe
  • Victoria and Albert: The Wedding (Lucy Worsley narrates)

Why You Should Check Them Out: Lucy Worsley makes learning about history fun! She’s stylish, humorous, clever, and knowledgeable. 

Content Note: TV-G/TV-PG

#34 Magpie Murders (2022-)

Magpie Murders stars Lesley Manville as Susan Ryeland, Tim McMullan as Atticus Pünd.
Magpie Murders stars Lesley Manville as Susan Ryeland, Tim McMullan as Atticus Pünd. Photographer: Nick Wall

PBS Synopsis: 

Lesley Manville and Tim McMullan star in the TV adaptation of Anthony Horowitz’s bestselling novel about a dead mystery author, an incomplete manuscript and suspects galore.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Lesley Manville shines in this addictive, entertaining whodunit. Plus, her outfits are gorgeous! See our review for more information on the stylish mystery show. 

Content Note: TV-14 for some violence and profanity.

#35 Marie Antoinette (2022)

Marie Antoinette on PBS in 2023
Emilia Schüle (Marie Antoinette). Credit: Courtesy of © Caroline Dubois – Capa Drama / Banijay Studios France / Les Gens / Canal+.

PBS Synopsis: 

Marie Antoinette is just a teenager when she leaves Austria to marry the Dauphin of France. At Versailles, under the complex rules of the French court, she suffers from not being able to live her life the way she wants, under pressure to continue the Bourbon line and secure the Franco-Austrian alliance.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

The new Marie Antoinette series is a provocative interpretation of history – told from the perspective of a young Marie Antoinette. Despite not being historically accurate, this show is not a romanticized look at the famous royals – but it is compelling all the same. 

Content Note: TV-14 for explicit sensuality and some nudity.

#36 Mayor of Casterbridge (2003)

mayor of casterbridge poster

PBS Synopsis: 

A lavish period drama based on Thomas Hardy’s classic tale of a man who sells his wife and child at a market and begins a new life of wealth and respect as the Mayor of Casterbridge. However, his past returns to haunt him when he is reunited with his family, with unexpected consequences.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Ciarán Hinds stars in this engrossing adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s depressing story. If you don’t mind tragic twists and turns and like romantic period dramas, you should appreciate this well-done version of the classic tale.

Content Note: TV-14

#37 Mercy Street (2016-2017)

Mercy Street still
Credit: Anthony Platt/PBS

PBS Synopsis: 

New England nurse Mary Phinney navigates her first day in Mansion House, a hotel turned Union hospital in an occupied Southern town. Mansion House owner James Sr. struggles to preserve the family fortune as daughter Emma secretly searches for her beau.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Mercy Street is an underrated romantic period drama (and PBS original) with a strong cast and compelling scripts. 

Content Note: TV-14 for some violence, frightening situations, implied assault, and sensuality.

#38 Miss Scarlet & the Duke (2020-)

Miss Scarlet and the Duke season 1 still
Stuart Martin as William Wellington (The Duke) and Kate Phillips as Eliza Scarlet in season 1. Credit: Courtesy of MASTERPIECE

PBS Synopsis: 

Kate Phillips stars in a six-part mystery as the headstrong, first-ever female detective in Victorian London. Stuart Martin plays her childhood friend, professional colleague, and potential love interest, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector William Wellington, a.k.a., The Duke.

Why You Should Check It Out: Besides the intriguing mysteries, memorable characters, and entertaining story, Miss Scarlet & the Duke has one of the best will-they-won’t-they romances on television. 

Content Note: Episodes range between TV-PG and TV-14. 

#39 Mr. Selfridge (2013-2016)

mr. selfridge still with Mr. Selfridge hugging his family
Credit: ITV/Masterpiece

PBS Synopsis: 

In 1909 London, an American retail tycoon arrives at the unfashionable end of Oxford Street to jettison fusty British tradition and open one of the finest department stores the world has ever seen. Three-time Emmy® winner Jeremy Piven stars as Harry Gordon Selfridge, the flamboyant entrepreneur and showman seeking to provide London’s shoppers with the ultimate merchandise and the ultimate thrill.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

The writing in Mr. Selfridge is simply excellent. While Jeremy Piven isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, he grows on you. With appealing love stories, fascinating characters, and beautiful costumes, Mr. Selfridge is a sumptuous period drama better than viewers initially gave it credit for. 

Content Note: TV-14 for some language, suggestive content, and an assault. Mild overall.

#40 Mrs. Wilson (2018)

Ruth Wilson as Mrs. Wilson.
Ruth Wilson as Mrs. Wilson. Credit: BBC/MASTERPIECE

PBS Synopsis: 

Ruth Wilson (The Affair, Jane Eyre) stars in this drama inspired by her grandmother’s memoir. Alison Wilson thinks she is happily married until her husband Alec (Iain Glen, Game of Thrones) dies, and another woman claims to be Alec’s wife. Alison is determined to prove the validity of her own marriage – but is instead led into a world of disturbing secrets.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Ruth Wilson gives another magnificent performance in this gripping miniseries based on actual events.

Content Note: TV-14

#41 Poldark (2015-2019)

Ross and Demelza
Photo: BBC/PBS Masterpiece/Mammoth Screen

PBS Synopsis: 

Aidan Turner (The Hobbit) stars as Ross Poldark, a redcoat who returns to Cornwall after battle to discover that his father is dead, his lands are ruined, and his true love is engaged to another. Can Poldark change his destiny, restore his lost fortune, and reclaim his love?

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson star in this breathtaking romantic period drama series.

RELATED: The Top 35 Period Dramas To Satisfy Your Poldark Addiction

If you’re a period drama fan, Poldark is one of the best ones ever produced. It’s swoonygorgeous, and compelling. See our review for more on the show.

Content Note: TV-14 for sensuality and mild violence.

#42 Prime Suspect: Tennison (2017)

Prime Suspect Tennison Poster

PBS Synopsis: 

Behind every great detective is a backstory. MASTERPIECE dials back the clock to spotlight the influences that turned 22-year-old rookie policewoman Jane Tennison into the savvy, single-minded crime fighter beloved by Prime Suspect viewers.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Tennison is a solid prequel to the famous Prime Suspect series starring Helen Mirren. Stefanie Martini plays the young Tennison convincingly. 

Content Note: TV-14

#43 Ridley Road (2021)

Ridley Road publicity still of a couple about to kiss
Jack Morris (TOM VAREY) & Vivien Epstein (AGNES O’CASEY). Credit: Courtesy of C) Red Productions – Photographer: Ben Blackall

PBS Synopsis: 

Ridley Road stars newcomer Agnes O’Casey as Vivien Epstein, a young Jewish hairdresser who fits right into London’s mod scene, while secretly infiltrating the British neo-Nazi hierarchy on behalf of Jewish antifascists.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

If you love history, romance, and political thrillers, this recent PBS miniseries makes for terrific viewing.

Content Note: TV-14

#44 Sanditon (2019-2023)

Sanditon Charlotte and Georgiana
Charlotte Heywood (ROSE WILLIAMS) and Georgiana Lambe (CRYSTAL CLARKE). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt.

PBS Synopsis: 

Jane Austen’s final and incomplete novel, written only months before her death in 1817, Sanditon tells the story of the joyously impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) and her romantic journey.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Sanditon has been a polarizing period drama series from the start, but it has all the period drama trappings you could ever want in this enjoyable, diverse romance drama. All three seasons are available to watch on PBS Passport now.

Content Note: The first season is TV-14 for semi-explicit sensuality and suggestive content, while the latter two seasons are TV-PG. 

#45 The Durrells in Corfu (2016-2019)

The durrells publicity cast photo
Credit: Sid Gentle Films/Masterpiece/ITV

PBS Synopsis: 

Keeley Hawes (Upstairs Downstairs) stars as an intrepid widow who decamps from dreary England to a sun-dappled Greek island with her four recalcitrant children, ages 11 to 21, on this adaptation of Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals and its two sequels.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

The BAFTA-nominated dramedy series is quirky, hilarious, and emotionally investing to watch. The Durrells is based on a true story and is absolutely delightful. 

Content Note: TV-PG for suggestive content and dialogue.

#46 Unforgotten (2015-)

Unforgotten promo image
Cassie (NICOLA WALKER) & Sunny (SANJEEV BHASKAR). Credit: Courtesy of (C) Mainstreet Pictures LTD

PBS Synopsis: 

Nicola Walker (Last Tango in Halifax) and Sanjeev Bhaskar (Indian Summers) star as police officers investigating the cold case murder of a boy whose diary implicates four seemingly unconnected couples in a thriller that The Guardian (UK) hailed as “so much more than a satisfying murder mystery.”

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Each season has a thrilling new mystery to solve with many suspects. It’s a show you can’t stop watching once you start. And Nicola Walker is simply brilliant.

Content Note: TV-14 for suggestive content, language, violence, and frightening situations. PBS cut some of the stronger profanity for the PBS version – which would have made it TV-MA.

#47 Victoria (2016-2019)

victoria tv show
Credit: ITV/Masterpiece

PBS Synopsis: 

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. Victoria stars Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) as Queen Victoria in a highly anticipated series that follows the drama of the candid, spirited monarch.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

The Emmy-nominated historical drama stars Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes as the famous royals. Victoria is a lavish period drama full of romance, upstairs-downstairs drama, and beautiful costumes. 

Content Note: TV-PG

#48 Vienna Blood (2019-)

Vienna Blood Season 3 promo photo
Oskar and Max consider a case in central Vienna. Film 8. [Actors – left to right Juergen Maurer & Matthew Beard]. Credit: Courtesy of Petro Domenigg – © 2022 Endor Productions / MR Film

PBS Synopsis: 

1900s Vienna is a hotbed of philosophy, science and art. Dr. Max Liebermann’s extraordinary skills of perception and Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt’s determination lead them to some of the city’s most mysterious and deadly cases.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

It’s an atmospheric mystery show with a strong cast and high production values.

Content Note: TV-14 for explicit content and nudity – including assaults. The PBS version blurs the nudity out, however. Otherwise, the series would be TV-MA.

#49 World on Fire (2019-)

World on Fire cast promo image
Credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen

PBS Synopsis: 

World on Fire, an adrenalized, emotionally gripping and resonant World War II drama, follows the intertwining fates of ordinary people in five countries as they grapple with the effects of the war on their everyday lives. Starring Helen Hunt, Sean Bean, Jonah Hauer-King and more.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

The strong cast in World on Fire helps sell an imperfect (but promising) series set during WWII. The long-anticipated World on Fire Season 2 should premiere in late 2023.

Content Note: TV-14 for semi-explicit sensuality, suggestive content, violence, and profanity.

#50 Walter Presents Collection 

Seaside Hotel Poster
Seaside Hotel. Credit: Courtesy of TV2 / Danmark

PBS Synopsis: 

Walter Presents is a curated collection of award-winning international drama, hand-picked by Walter Iuzzolino, a TV connoisseur who has scoured the globe for compelling hits. Presented in their original languages with English subtitles. This collection is available to stream with PBS Passport.

Why You Should Check It Out: 

Walter Iuzzolino has selected numerous award-winning and intriguing dramas and mysteries from around the world for your viewing pleasure. If you’re a fan of thinking shows and foreign content, there are dozens of shows to choose from. I included a few notable ones below.

I recommend starting with Seaside Hotel. But there are many to choose from, depending on your interests. I like historical dramas, mysteries, and romances.

  • All Heart 
  • All the Sins
  • Astrid 
  • Bauhaus 
  • Bella Germania 
  • Blood Pact 
  • Devil’s Throat 
  • Dicte 
  • The Empress 
  • Inspector Ricciardi 
  • The Last Wave
  • Line of Separation 
  • Love, Inevitably 
  • Luisa Spagnoli: Queen of Chocolate 
  • Our Miracle Years 
  • Paradise 
  • Professor T 
  • Seaside Hotel 
  • Sisi: Austrian Empress 
  • Swoon
  • The Time in Between
  • True North
  • Under Suspicion

Click here to see more shows from the Walter Presents Collection

Content Note: The series range between TV-PG (like Seaside Hotel) and TV-MA; however, most dramas are TV-MA with mature content. 


Tom Jones on PBS
Sophie Wilde as Sophia Western and Solly McLeod as Tom Jones. Credit: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen and MASTERPIECE

PBS Synopsis: 

Two lovers follow their hearts in a new adaptation of Henry Fielding’s novel starring Solly McLeod (House of the Dragon), Sophie Wilde (You Don’t Know Me), and Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso), and adapted by Gwyneth Hughes (Vanity Fair).

Premiere DateTom Jones premieres on PBS and PBS Passport on April 30, 2023! So, stay tuned. It looks like a good one. For more information, see everything we know about the new period drama.


  • After Auschwitz
  • Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar
  • Agatha and the Midnight Murders
  • Agatha and the Truth of Murder
  • Agatha Christie: Agatha Christie’s England
  • Becoming Frederick Douglass
  • Breathless
  • DI Ray 
  • Elizabeth is Missing
  • Exile 
  • The Fall
  • History Detectives
  • Independent Lens
  • Lovejoy
  • Making of a Lady
  • Monstrum
  • Mr. Bean
  • Nature
  • Nova
  • Orchard House: Home of Little Women
  • PBS News Hour
  • Professor T (British version)
  • Reilly: Ace of Spies
  • Roadkill
  • Secrets of the Dead
  • Sinking of the Laconia
  • The Trouble with Maggie Cole
  • The Tunnel
  • Van Der Valk
  • Victorian Slum House
  • We’ll Meet Again
  • The Widower
  • Windermere Children

(And numerous more local content, documentaries, and dramas to enjoy. For more, scroll down this complete list of shows.)

What shows on PBS passport do you love or plan to check out? Would you recommend PBS Passport to anyone on the fence? Sound off in the comments below!

Featured image: Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Credit: Courtesy of PBS; Alexander Colbourne (BEN LLOYD-HUGHES); Charlotte Heywood (ROSE WILLIAMS). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt; Emilia Schüle (Marie Antoinette). Courtesy of © Caroline Dubois – Capa Drama / Banijay Studios France / Les Gens / Canal+; Endeavour. Credit: Mammoth Screen and Masterpiece; Poldark (BBC Masterpiece/Mammoth Screen).

50 of the Best PBS Passport Shows to Watch (2023) pinterest image with Marie Antoinette, Poldark, and Sanditon


By on March 28th, 2023

About Amber Topping

Amber works as a writer and digital publisher full-time and fell in love with stories and imagination at an early age. She has a Humanities and Film Degree from BYU, co-created The Silver Petticoat Review, contributed as a writer to various magazines, and has an MS in Publishing from Pace University, where she received the Publishing Award of Excellence and wrote her thesis on transmedia, Jane Austen, and the romance genre. Her ultimate dreams are publishing books, writing and producing movies, traveling around the world, and forming a creative village of talented storytellers trying to change the world through art.

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