Victorian England on TV (part 2)

Hello gentle reader,

In 2013 I wrote a blogpost about TV shows set in Victorian England. Three years later, it seems that networks are still interested in producing such series, even if they don’t necessarily find their audience. Here are the three latest shows that caught my attention:



Historical drama set in the Yorkshire Dales. Inspired by the builders of the Ribblehead Viaduct in the 1870s, it follows a widow, Annie, who is left penniless after her husband’s death and decides to move to the shanty town of Jericho in search of work.

Dubbed “Britain’s first Western”, it boasts interesting characters (with a strong female lead and a diverse cast), as well as an impressive set. However I found the plot slightly predictable. ITV cancelled the show after its first series, but these 8 episodes are worth watching.

Photographer: Todd Antony

Photographer: Todd Antony


In the words of the BBC, it’s a “drama set within the fictional realms of Charles Dickens’ critically acclaimed novels, bringing together some of his most iconic characters as their lives intertwine in 19th-century London.” Bringing together characters from Bleak House, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and A Christmas Carol, among others, the 20-part mini series shows Inspector Bucket as he investigates the murder of Ebenezer Scrooge’s partner Jacob Marley.

I thoroughly enjoyed this series, which cleverly brought together various famous novels by Dickens. It was very well written and it gave a prominent role to female characters (the young Miss Havisham being a fantastic lead). Each episode mixed mystery, comedy and tragedy, and if you like Dickens’ books, I really recommend you watch this series.

The Living and the Dead

The Living and the Dead

Presented by the BBC as “a Victorian era supernatural drama series about a farm owner who yearns to prove the existence of the afterlife”, this series is the most recent of the three mentioned in this post. Starring Colin Morgan, the 6-part drama is about a pioneering psychologist who moves to his family estate after his wedding to a gifted photographer. As they try to keep the farm afloat, the young couple have to deal with strange and creepy events.

Each episode touches upon Victorian topics (child labour, occultism, etc.) and mixes supernatural and historical events very well. The main character’s slow descent into madness is incredibly well acted by Colin Morgan. And I loved the twist about the mysterious woman in red. I loved this series and I do hope a second one will soon follow.

Have you watched these Victorian TV shows? What did you think? Any other TV series set in Victorian England I should be aware of? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Hello gentle reader,

if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may know I love Historical Fantasy, a genre I both read and write. The first book that I loved in this genre is JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR NORRELL by Susanna Clarke, which was published in 2004.


I was therefore utterly delighted when I found out the BBC was adapting the book into a mini-series. So far two episodes have aired in the UK, and it’s set to premiere in the US in June.

My expectations were understandably quite high before watching the first episode, but I’m happy to report I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. This is a great example of a TV show that lives up to the standards of plot and setting set by the book it’s based on.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR NORRELL is set in an alternate England during the Napoleonic Wars. Although magic is widely believed in, no magician has been able to cast a spell since the Raven King is said to have left the country. Magical studies have become theoretical, until Mr Norrell (played by Eddie Marsan) comes along: a recluse gentleman living in Yorkshire, he becomes the first magician to perform magic in 300 years. Suddenly famous, he moves to London in order to help in the war against France. Meanwhile, another gentleman named Jonathan Strange (played by Bertie Carvel), fortuitously discovers he can cast spells as well. He then proceeds to meet Mr Norrell, and asks him to become his apprentice.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell 2

All sorts of shenanigans ensue, involving a mysterious Gentleman with the Thistle-Down Hair, fairies, dreamlike-balls, crows, odd hats, and the Duke of Wellington.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell 5

Clarke’s book is long (almost 800 pages!) and extremely rich and complex. Turning it into a mini-series can’t have been an easy task, yet the BBC manages it superbly. The settings are gorgeous, the cast spot-on, the plot shortened yet never simplified.


It’s magical, dark and creepy, but also funny and delightful. I recommend it!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell 4

And if you need further convincing, here is the trailer:

Have you read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell? Have you watched the BBC mini-series? What did you think?

Feel free to leave me a comment below!


A NaNoWriMo Playlist


Hello gentle reader,

Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? If you’re planning on writing a 50K story in one month in November, you might be currently plotting your novel, doing research, creating a setting and building your characters. And if you like listening to music while writing, you might also be putting together a playlist for said NaNoWriMo novel.

So today I’m over at The Great Noveling Adventure to share a few of my favourite movie soundtracks, which you may want to add to your NaNoWriMo Playlist. Hope you enjoy!

Victorian Fantasy on TV: Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful

Hello gentle reader,

If you’ve been following this blog and if you know of my love for Victorian Fantasy, you might have guessed this post was coming… Indeed, there’s a Victorian Fantasy show on TV!

This spring, Penny Dreadful airs both in the US and in the UK. Set in London in 1891, the show’s main character is a psychic (played by Eva Green), who teams up with an American actor/sharpshooter (played by Josh Hartnett), to investigate supernatural occurences. They soon come in contact with many well-known characters such as Dorian Gray, Jack The Ripper, Victor Frankenstein and his monster, Abraham Van Helsing and Mina Harker (from Dracula), etc. The title of the show refers to the 19th Century cheap, sensational publications one could buy for a penny.

What I like about the show is that it plays the ‘Victorian London’ card very well. Everything you would expect from such a setting/era is there: the aristocratic mansions, the East End slums, the opium dens, the British Museum and its Egyptian collections, the London Zoo, the dissecting tables of the Royal London Hospital, the asylum and the theatre… among others. Familiar themes for the time period are also touched upon: a few characters attend a séance and talk spiritualism, another character is dying of consumption, another has been searching for the source of the Nile in Africa, etc.

Penny Dreadful is visually stunning, with beautiful and gritty sets and amazing costumes. Each character is intriguing so far, and I’m hoping they’ll all be well developed as the story progresses. The plot is a bit scattered until now, and I’m waiting to see which direction it will take.

Whatever happens, the show has already been renewed for a second season which will air in 2015. Who said Victorian Fantasy didn’t appeal to the masses? 😉

Have you watched Penny Dreadful? What did you think? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

Victorian England… on TV!

Hello gentle reader,

By now you must know how much I love all things Victorian and I’m delighted to report that this autumn’s TV schedule allows me to indulge in my passion for this topic. There are currently three shows that take place in late 19th Century England. Each one shows a different aspect of this era. Have you watched them?


Dracula – Historical Fantasy

Season 1 began on 25th October in the US and 31st October in the UK

This is a retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Set in 1890s London, it introduces Alexander Grayson (Dracula), a vampire posing as an American entrepreneur set on revenge against the Order who has killed his wife and turned him into a creature of the night. He is helped in his plans by Abraham Van Helsing. But he also meets Mina Murray, engaged to journalist Jonathan Harker, and falls in love with her.

Dracula - Season 1

Why I’m watching it: Vampires in Victorian London! Two of my favourite things put together! I’m also really enjoying the beautiful sets, gorgeous dresses and amazing cinematography.

Dracula set

Dracula set 2


Ripper Street

Ripper Street – Historical Mystery Drama

Now in its second season, this show was first broadcasted in the UK in December 2012 and in the US in January 2013

Set in 1889 Whitechapel (London East End) after the Jack the Ripper murdering spree, this show follows the paths of three policemen investigating the everyday crimes occuring in their impoverished district. Their investigations take them to slums, pubs, factories and brothels where they encounter all sorts of characters and situations.


Why I’m watching it: because it’s realistic and gripping. No glamourous dresses or high society plots here: poverty and crime are everywhere, yet each character fights to make their life and their district better.

Ripper Street 2

Ripper Street 3

Ripper Street 4


the paradise bbc

The Paradise – Historical drama

Now in its second season, this show was first broadcasted in the UK in September 2012 and in the US in October 2013.

Based on Emile Zola’s Au Bonheur Des Dames (“The Ladies’ Paradise”), this show is set in 1875 North East England. It portrays lives of the people who work or shop in the first department store, “The Paradise”. The main character, Denise Lovett, comes from a small town to work as a shopgirl in ladies wear at the store, where she falls in love with the shop’s owner. But her ambitions are seen as a threat by many…

The Paradise BBC set

Why I’m watching it: because it’s light and fun and highly enjoyable. The dresses are beautiful, the heroine lovely, the villains villainous, and all always ends well. The upmarket department store, entirely recreated at Lambton Castle, is a wonderful setting.

The Paradise

The Paradise BBC Denise

So tell me, are you watching these Victorian shows? What do you think of them? Make sure to leave me a comment below!