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A British Christmas 2018 Period Drama & Romance Watchlist

Recently, the British Christmas and New Year’s Day schedule revealed several period dramas, specials featuring period drama actors, and romances to look forward to over the holiday season. And while some of them aren’t coming to the U.S. yet, I’ll let you know the U.S. premiere date if available. So, without further ado, here’s your upcoming British Christmas and New Year’s Watchlist. Mark your calendars!

A British Christmas 2018 Period Drama & Romance Watchlist  

(In Order of Air Date)

#1: Mary Berry’s Christmas Party

A British Christmas 2018 Period Drama & Romance Watchlist - Mary Bary
Photo: BBC

BBC Press Room: With the party season fast approaching, Nadiya’s Party Feasts sees her sharing favourite celebration dishes, while Mary Berry once more opens her kitchen up to some of TV’s best-loved faces in Mary Berry’s Christmas Party [features Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson], as well as a seasonal special of Mary Berry’s Country House.

Where To Watch: The first episode airs on Monday, December 17 at 8.30 PM on BBC One. This will not air in the US as far as I know.

#2: Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (New Name:  The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square) Featuring Hugh Bonneville and Sutton Foster

A British Christmas 2018 Period Drama & Romance Watchlist
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Justin Hackworth

PBS Press Room: Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir returns for its 15th year on Monday, December 17 at 9:00 p.m. with Tony Award winner Sutton Foster as this year’s guest musical artist and Hugh Bonneville, star of PBS’ own MASTERPIECE “Downton Abbey,” reading the Christmas story from the Book of Luke.

Where To Watch: While a U.S. Production, what British Period Drama fan doesn’t want to watch Downton Abbey‘s Hugh Bonneville read the Christmas Story? The special airs on PBS December 17 at 9:00 PM ET. The UK air date is unclear. Check your local listings.

#3: The Dead Room

Photo: BBC

BBC Press Room:  Mark Gatiss brings the Christmas ghost story tradition back to life with The Dead Room for BBC Four starring Simon Callow, which tells the tale of a long-running radio horror series of the same name. [While I’m unsure of the period drama or romance content, I’m sharing for us Doctor Who fans!]

Where To Watch: Christmas Eve at 10 PM on BBC Four. No news on a US premiere date.

#4: Upstart Crow: A Crow Christmas Carol

A British Christmas 2018 Period Drama & Romance Watchlist
Photo: BBC

Official BBC Synopsis: It’s a bleak midwinter in the Shakespeare household as the family comes to terms with a cruel loss. But when a mysterious stranger (Kenneth Branagh) offers to share with Will (David Mitchell) a tale of redemption he becomes filled anew with love and light and hope.

Now, Will has a mission – to save another soul from despair. He and his family and friends get together to save Greene (Mark Heap) from a mean and miserly life, and arrange for three midnight ghosts to visit him before Christmas.

Who is the stranger? Can Will and his family and friend’s efforts persuade Greene to change his ways and show some generosity to his servant Job Scratchit? (Karl Theobald) And at the end of it all could this tale of Yuletide redemption be another smash Shakespeare hit on the stage, or is its time not yet come?

In short, what the Dickens is going on?

Where To Watch:  Upstart Crow plays on BBC Two Christmas Day at 8:35 PM. As for the U.S., last year’s Christmas special currently streams on Britbox. One can only assume, this year’s Christmas special will eventually be added as well. While you’re waiting, you can always watch the special last year featuring the always amazing Emma Thompson.

#5: The Call the Midwife Holiday Special

Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2018

PBS Official Synopsis: The Christmas special will star Miriam Margolyes as Sister Mildred, who arrives unexpectedly at Nonnatus House, her hands full with four Chinese orphans. Having fled China, the child refugees were found abandoned in Hong Kong and are being adopted in the U.K. as part of the World Refugee Project.  With Christmas preparations in full flow and the midwives busy caring for the expectant mothers of Poplar, these unexpected visitors cause joy and chaos in equal measure. 

The special also sees Trixie return to Poplar in time to cover for the Sisters as they leave for the Mother House. The Order’s Mother Superior has taken ill, and a new spiritual leader needs to be elected. It soon becomes clear, much to Sister Julienne’s horror, that she is the favored candidate.

Where to Watch: The special airs Tuesday, Christmas Day on BBC One at 7.45 PM. In the U.S., the special airs Tuesday, December 25 at 9:00 PM ET on PBS. Check your local listings because what’s a British Christmas watchlist without Call the Midwife?

#6: Torvill and Dean

A British Christmas 2018 Period Drama & Romance Watchlist
Photo: ITV

ITV Synopsis: The Nottingham-based biopic opens in 1968, showing Jayne and Chris as children in their respective family homes. Exploring how the pair were individually introduced to ice skating, Jayne’s first experience on the ice is during a school trip where she immediately shows potential and is taken under the wing of trainer Miss Perry. Meanwhile, following his parents’ separation, Chris is given a pair of skates by his new stepmother, Betty, which encourages him to try out the sport.

As the years progress, ice skating becomes a big part of both of their lives. Jayne continues to train with Miss Perry, whilst Chris uses the ice as an escape from his complicated family life. Sensing that Jayne needs a partner to allow her more expression, Miss Perry introduces her to Andrew who she starts to train with, whilst Chris begins a partnership with fellow skater, Leanne. However, creative differences within both partnerships eventually lead to their breakdown, and it isn’t long before Chris’ trainer, Janet Sawbridge, puts Jayne and Chris together.

Despite being unsure at first, the duo blossom together and they’re soon excelling at a competitive level. With both having full-time jobs and commitments beyond the rink though, they must work hard to achieve their dreams.

Where to Watch: Torvill and Dean premieres Christmas Day at 9.15 PM on ITV. No news on a US premiere date.

#7: The ABC Murders

A British Christmas 2018 Period Drama & Romance Watchlist
Photo: BBC

BBC Press Room: The next installment in the collection of Agatha Christie stories for BBC One is Sarah Phelps’ adaptation of The ABC Murders, Christie’s classic 1936 title. The three-part drama sees Poirot, played by John Malkovich, as he attempts to thwart a killer that’s travelled the length and breadth of Britain via the railway network. Rupert Grint stars alongside Malkovich as Inspector Crome.

Where To Watch: The ABC Murders will play over three consecutive nights at 9 PM on BBC One. The special begins on Boxing Day (Wednesday, December 26). However, no news on a US premiere date yet. That being said, Amazon bought the rights to Agatha Christie dramas in the past so a similar deal to Ordeal by Innocence may already be in place.

#8: Andrew Davies: Rewriting the Classics

BBC SynopsisThis new documentary will discover how Andrew Davies – creator of some of the most iconic and successful British small-screen dramas of the past fifty years – turns one art form into another.

At the height of his powers as he enters his ninth decade, Andrew is full of passion and energy, tackling massive and magnificent thousand page novels and transforming them into prime-time television. Through the production process of Les Misérables this film will uncover his trade secrets – how he gets the vision in his head from the page, via his computer, and into our living rooms; his methods and how he masters his craft. With contributions from Sarah Waters, Dominic West, Helen Fielding and Olivia Colman as well as industry figures Jane Tranter and Sue Birtwistle. Controversial, witty, irreverent – and fearless; Andrew Davies is the best in the game and this film will reveal why.


Where To Watch: Watch this awesome documentary on Sunday, December 30 at 10.05 PM on BBC Four. No news on a US premiere date.

#9: Les Misérables

A British Christmas 2018 Period Drama & Romance Watchlist
Courtesy of BBC – Photographer: Laurence Cendrowicz

PBS Synopsis: The six-part drama adaptation stars Dominic West (The Affair, The Hour) as Jean Valjean, and David Oyelowo (Selma) as Javert in this landmark drama adaptation. They are joined in this epic event drama by Lily Collins (Rules Don’t Apply, Love, Rosie), in the role of Fantine.

With a striking intensity and relevance to us today, Victor Hugo’s novel is testimony to the struggles of France’s underclass and how far they must go to survive. The six-part television adaptation of the renowned book will vividly and faithfully bring to life the vibrant and engaging characters, the spectacular and authentic imagery and, above all, the incredible yet accessible story that was Hugo’s lifework.

The distinguished British cast also includes Adeel Akhtar (The Night Manager, Murdered By My Father) and Olivia Colman (Murder On The Orient Express, The Night Manager, Broadchurch) as Monsieur and Madame Thénardier, Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies) as Cosette, Josh O’Connor (The Durrells in Corfu) as Marius and Erin Kellyman (Raised By Wolves) as Éponine.

Where to Watch: Les Misérables begins airing on Sunday, December 30 at 9 PM on BBC One. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Les Misérables premieres Sunday, April 14, 2019, on PBS.

#10: Doctor Who New Year’s Day Special

A British Christmas 2018 Period Drama & Romance Watchlist
Photo: BBC

BBC Press RoomIn Doctor Who, a terrifying evil is stirring from across the centuries of Earth’s history as Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz bring in the New Year in spectacular style.

Where To Watch: Doctor Who New Year’s Special premieres on January 1, 2019, at 7 PM on BBC One. The Doctor Who Special will also air on BBC America on New Year’s Day. Check your local listing for the official time. And while it doesn’t quite feel like a British Christmas without Doctor Who, you can still watch past Doctor Who Christmas specials on BBC America beginning on Christmas Eve in a wonderful Christmas marathon.

#11: Luther

Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) tempts John Luther (Idris Elba) in series 2.
Photo: BBC America

BBC Press Room: Multi-award-winning crime drama series Luther makes its long-awaited return to BBC One. DCI John Luther, played by Idris Elba, is once more called to immerse himself in the deepest depths of human depravity in a new four-part series written by Neil Cross. [Good news for Alice fans because Ruth Wilson is back!!]

Where to Watch: Luther premieres on New Year’s Day 2019 at 9 pm on BBC One. You can also find the new season of Luther on BBC America. Official return date is still unknown.


This year, you definitely want a period drama and romantic British Christmas because the programming is once again super exciting. What’s on your British Christmas Watchlist? Sound off below…

Top Photo Credit: Les Miserables; Courtesy of BBC – Photographer: Robert Viglasky

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By on December 11th, 2018

About Autumn Topping

In second grade, Autumn wrote her first story, “The Spinach Monster,” and hasn't stopped writing since. Intrigued by the tales her grandmother told of vampires, witches, and ghosts as a girl, she's always been drawn to the fantastic. Later, Autumn studied English and Creative Writing (continuing her love for classic literature and everything old-fashioned) and graduated with an MA in Children’s Literature and an MS in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. Currently, she co-runs this lovely site and works as a YA Librarian.

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