London Prep: Films & TV!
Like with books, our cousins across the pond have blessed us indeed with no shortage of fantastic visual storytelling. So, this list is in no way exhaustive, but below are a few films of TV series set in or near London, to scratch that Anglophile itch when you’re not there yourself.
Caveats: I’ve narrowed down the list to streaming availability only, and due to the sheer breadth of options, I’ve eliminated documentaries on England. There are so many good options in this category — search all your streaming places! And enjoy.
Streaming details current as of April 2019
About a Boy
Based on Nick Hornby’s best-selling novel, this is the story of a cynical, immature young man who is taught how to act like a grown-up by a little boy. An underrated gem.
At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life. His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend changes his life. (I love this movie.)
Agatha & the Truth of Murder
In 1926, with her personal life in tatters and her writing in crisis, a young Agatha Christie decides to solve a real-life murder. A fictional account on what might have happened when she (in real life) disappeared for 11 days.
The Jane Austen classic, while matchmaking for friends and neighbours, a young 19th century Englishwoman nearly misses her own chance at love. Gwyneth is good in this one; Jeremy Northam is even better.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
In the aftermath of World War II, a writer forms an unexpected bond with the residents of Guernsey Island when she decides to write a book about their experiences during the war. Different than the book, but I think it’s still lovely.
An Inspector Calls
The King’s Speech
The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer. Colin Firth is baller in this.
A London woman’s love life and career both hinge, unknown to her, on whether or not she catches a train. We see it both ways, in parallel. (Fun fact: I got my pixie cut partially inspired by this film.)
The murder of a young boy in a small coastal town brings a media frenzy, which threatens to tear the community apart. Kinda heavy, but so good. Beautiful cinematography, too.
Call the Midwife
An intimate insight into the 1950s world of midwifery and family life in London’s East End, through the eyes of a young nurse and an order of nuns. Based on a true story.
The political rivalries and romance of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the events that shaped the second half of the 20th century. Super good, with more on the way.
Set in the 1960s, this follows Inspector Morse in his early years as a police constable in Oxford. A slow burn, but great acting and storytelling, and beautiful cinematography around Oxford.
Series inspired by the stories of GK Chesterton; a Catholic priest has a knack for solving mysteries in his English village. Somewhat lighthearted, but so fun — I sometimes watch this before bed when I want something easy.
The Great British Bake-Off
Bakers attempt three challenges each week to impress the judges enough to go through to the next round, and eventually are crowned Britain’s best amateur baker. So addictive.
This follows a group of inspirational women in a rural community during World War II, giving insight at what life was like during the war back “home.” This is such an unsung hero, and sadly, it ends abruptly because it was cancelled after season two. Worth a watch.
A dark psychological crime drama about a detective struggling with his own terrible demons, who might well be just as dangerous as the depraved murderers he hunts. Heavy, but so compelling, and the acting is top-notch.
A darker version of all other screen adaptations, Oliver is born into a life of poverty and misfortune. Growing up in a workhouse, Oliver decides he wants more and sets out for London. There he gets the first warm welcome of his life.
Ross Poldark returns home after American Revolutionary War and rebuilds his life with a new business venture, making new enemies and finding a new love where he least expects it. Beautiful cinematography. And actor.
An analytical deduction fanatic helps the police with their inquiries for fun, joined by Dr John Watson. Sherlock provides the inspired leaps of intellect, while Watson keeps his friend’s flights of fancy grounded. Set in modern London, this show is addictive.
The early life of Queen Victoria, from her ascension to the throne at the tender age of 18 to her courtship and marriage to Prince Albert. Great insight into the wide-reaching influence of the Victorian era.