Jan 11, 2013
Is there anything better on a cold winter's night than a lush, well-acted, beautifully-costumed, leisurely-paced BBC drama?
The enormous success of Downton Abbey would attest to the popularity of costume drama, but this is not a new phenomenon. These dramas have been making television headlines since Upstairs Downstairs. In an blog post at The Guardian entitled "What is the Appeal of Costume Dramas?" from 2007 (predating Downton Abbey, but practically predicting its success), Gareth McLean poses the questions:
What is it about these stories? Is it the simple escapism - to times we imagine to be gentler, or simply better dressed? Is it the "room after room of the best props money can buy" that attract? Is it not so much the stories but the production values we love? After all, Elizabeth Gaskell's concern with the plight of the working classes, in North and South say, is a world away from the Brontes' tales of love on the Yorkshire moors.
For more about costume dramas, check out The Story of the Costume Drama a five-episode documentary that originally aired on British televisions which examines the appeal of these programs in full detail and will give you plenty of titles to add to your library request list.
For even more costume dramas, check out the Masterpieces list we just put up on the website. This list, created by Karen B., one of our excellent librarians, gives you a great sampling of some of the great BBC dramas available and the books that they are often based upon. Enjoy!