Brideshead, Downton and Mad Men: 7 of the greatest TV period dramas of all time

To celebrate the premiere of Manhattan on AMC from BT, we look back at some of the greatest TV period dramas of all time.

The critically acclaimed new drama Manhattan launched in the UK on Tuesday, January 5, exclusively on AMC from BT.

The series about the race to build an atomic bomb in New Mexico in 1943 has already been compared to classic period dramas such as Mad Men.

Manhattan: 5 reasons AMC’s new period drama is a must-watch for 2016

To celebrate the premiere of Manhattan on January 5, here are our seven favourite period dramas of all time, which had us hooked from the beginning.

1. Mad Men

Christina Hendricks on the Mad Men red carpet
AMC’s 1960s ad agency drama is often discussed as not only one of the greatest period dramas of all time, but as one of the greatest TV shows of all time, full stop.

As suave and sophisticated as a Savile Row suit, the period detail was incredible and in Jon Hamm’s womanizing advertising genius Don Draper the show had one of the greatest TV anti-heroes of all time.

2. Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey

Sadly coming to an end last Christmas, Downton Abbey became a worldwide smash hit thanks to its mixture of soapy drama and gorgeous period setting.

Julian Fellowes’s 1920s drama of the classes will be much missed  - until the inevitably make that movie spinoff.

3. Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire

Steve Buscemi was the star of the show in this award-winning American crime drama about the Prohibition Era in Atlantic City.
Cast as Nucky Thompson, Buscemi gave a career best performance in this tale of mobsters, corruption and power, which was one of the most expensive TV shows ever made.

4. Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Colin Firth may have won an Oscar and starred in many great movies since, but the power of this 1995 Pride and Prejudice adaptation is that it still remains the No.1 moment most people remember from his career.

Andrew Davies’s adaptation of the 1813 Jane Austen novel is generally considered the best and authoritative screen version of the story.

5. Happy Days

Happy Days
Okay, so technically it might have been a comedy rather than a drama, however, no show captured 50s America and the rise of youth culture and rock ‘n’ roll quite as well as Fonzie and the gang.

Every British teenager who grew up watching this show wanted to move to America and hang around a diner with Richie and Ralph Malph. It also had one of the greatest TV theme tunes.

6. Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers
Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg piggy backed on the success of Oscar winner Saving Private Ryan to create a World War II TV series, which was arguably even greater than anything seen on the big screen.

With a jaw dropping cast of US and UK stars (David Schwimmer, Michael Fassbender, Damian Lewis, Marc Warren), the epic battle scenes remains some of the most incredible on television.

7. Brideshead Revisited

Brideshead revisited

The 1981 TV masterpiece perfectly captured Evelyn Waugh’s novel and turned a young Jeremy Irons into a star.
Immaculate performances, extraordinary period detail and a healthy dose of humour mean that this remains one of the best loved costume dramas of all time.

AMC will premiere the new original series Manhattan on Tuesday, January 5 at 9pm. AMC is the new drama channel available exclusively to BT customers.


(Manhattan on AMC from BT)

The first episode will also be available to watch, free for all, on BT Showcase (Freeview channel number 59).

AMC offers an exciting range of top dramas such as Fear the Walking Dead and Rectify.

Click here to find out more about AMC and BT TV packages.

The 13-episode series Manhattan will be available free of charge exclusively to all BT TV customers on AMC channel 332 on BT TV and BT Sport Pack subscribers on Sky channel 192.

AMC is also available in HD on both BT TV and Sky with a HD subscription.

Photo Credits: PA/Rex/AMC

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