Top 6 Period Drama Adaptations

I love period dramas. The costumes, the speech, the acting…it’s amazing. Note: BBC dramas are some of the best things ever created.

6. Death Comes to Pemberley – BBC, 2013

Adapted from: Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James (2011)

Starring: Matthew Rhys, Anna Maxwell Martin, Jenna Coleman

Set in 1803, 6 years after the wedding of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, the Darcys are preparing for their annual ball when Lizzie’s uninvited sister storms in claiming her husband (Mr Wickham) has been shot. But who has really been hurt, and who shot them?…

5. Sense and Sensibility –  Columbia Pictures, 1995 (US release), 1996 (UK release)

Adapted from: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (1811)

Starring: Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman

Sense and Sensibility
Original photo taken on a Nokia Lumia 520

So they may have changed Elinor Dashwood’s age from 19 in the book to 27 in the film so that 35 year old Emma Thompson could portray the sister destined for spinsterhood, but no other actress would do the part justice. Thompson also wrote the screenplay and kept to the book incredibly well. I don’t think I could watch another adaptation without complaining that it will never be as good as this one.

4. Emma (TV Movie) – ITV, 1996

Adapted from: Emma by Jane Austen (1815)

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Mark Strong

My sister loves the Gwyneth Paltrow version released in the same year, but I love this one. Kate Beckinsale exceeds expectations as the naïve matchmaker , and the casting of Mark Strong as Mr Knightly was an excellent choice as the two actors make the budding romance very believable.

3. Little Dorrit – BBC, 2008

Adapted from: Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (circa 1855)

Starring: Claire Foy, Matthew Macfadyen

WPLittleDorritwidescreen-period-films-36 by norika21, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  norika21 

I’m determined to get to the end of this book. I’ve been reading it on and off for about 4 years now, always being interrupted by exams, but this summer I will finish it! I thought Claire Foy portrayed Amy Dorrit beautifully, expressing the complexities of her shy, broken exterior camouflaging her desire to find goodness in everything around her and her growing fondness for Mr Clenham.

2. North & South – BBC, 2004

Adapted from: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskall (1855)

Starring: Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this when it was shown on Drama (Freeview channel 20) last year. I think Richard Armitage was the perfect choice for northern mill owner John Thornton and over time you really start to believe that he’s falling in love with Margaret. I also love how the minor storylines portrayed life during the industrial revolution and the problems of long hours working in the cotton mills, the acting was great.

1. Pride and Prejudice – BBC, 1995

Adapted from: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)

Starring: Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth

Original photo taken on a Nokia Lumia 520
Original photo taken on a Nokia Lumia 520

I couldn’t have a post all about period dramas and not include what is probably the most popular of them all. This is the best version ever made (I won’t even mention my disappointment at the 2005 film, despite Keira Knightley’s excellence in all her other roles) and I can’t think of words good enough to explain why. You just need to watch it and see why the world is in love with Mr Darcy…particularly Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy.

So, there’s my list of my favourite Jane Austen novels period dramas. Do you have a favourite?



  1. A great list. I particularly agree with your selection of Little Dorrit. I first watched this when I was 14 years old and completely fell in love with anything Dickensian. And now, five years later, I am reading the novel and loving it. Little Dorrit has such an excellent range of characters. My favourite is her sister Fanny Dorrit. The actress plays her so well in the adaptation; she is so spoilt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I’m ashamed to say it’s taken me 7 years to read the book because I kept dipping into it on and off before bedtime and could only read a few pages before I couldn’t keep my eyes open longer. I think it’s a fantastic book and the BBC adaptation portrays it so well. I love Dickens too, I remember we had a ‘Charles Dickens day’ at school to celebrate his 200th birthday and I went dressed as Mr Clennam, top hat, tail coat and all!


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