Favourite Historical TV Shows and Movies

BenSt

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#1
I'm a member of a History forum and on there a members asked about favourite historical television shows and movies. I came up with my list, because like most of you I'm a geek, and I am very curious what the answers might be on here. Anyone care to add theirs?

Here are mine:


Rome - The epic series about the trials and tribulations of Rome as it transitions from Republic to Empire. Still one of my favourite series.

Cadfael - Fantastic whodunnit series from Medieval England, starring Sir Derek Jacobi as the Monk Cadfael.

Vikings - One of the hottest series right now, loosely chronicling the Vikings, it also helps that Travis Fimmel is a hottie.

Pillars of the Earth & World Without End (although the books are far superior, I still quite enjoyed the two series).

The Black Death - Starring Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne as a soldier and monk who go in search of a town untouched by the Black Death. It's fantasy although set in a shitoric time, but it's a very powerful movie. Sean bean is a Game of Thrones alumni, and starred in Black Death with Klarice van Houten who plays Melisandre in GOT, just an interesting 'who knows who' thing I noticed.

The Lion in Winter - Someone else also posted this, but I recently had a chance to see the 1968 original (starring Peter O'Toole and Kathrine Hepburn)after having watched the second 2003 miniseries starring Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close. My lord, Glenn Close as Eleanor was outstanding. Although it's based on fictionalized play, the costumes in the miniseries won several awards, and the series is just powerful.

The_Conclave
- A Canadian-German co-production chronicling the Vatican Conclave of 1458. Starring Brian Blessed, and a host of great Canadian actors.

The Borgias - HBO series about the Borgia Pope Alexander and his family. I tried getting into the other series, Borgia, but couldn't get into it.

I want to put down The White Queen, but as fun as it is, and as fun as it is to watch Max Irons, it's mostly for entertainment I would say.

The_Tudors
- Major HBO series
Elizabeth I (Miniseries) - Great BBC miniseries from 2005 starring Helen Mirren as Elizabeth.
The Virgin Queen - A second, longer miniseries starring Ann-Marie MacDuff as Queen Bess.
Elizabeth &
Elizabeth:_The_Golden_Age

- The duo of films starring Cate Blanchett

Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot - Miniseries about Mary, Queen of Scots and her son, King James VI & I.
The Devil's Whore - Miniseries about the regicide of Charles I, and the English civil war.
Charles_II:_The_Power_and_The_Passion
- Miniseries about Charles II.

The_Madness_of_King_George
- Regarding King George's mental state, starring Nigel Hawthorne.

Catherine the Great - Starring Catherine Zeta Jones, outlining the rise and life of Catherine the Great.

Casanova (Miniseries) - Starring Peter O'Toole and David Tennant, written by Russel T Davies (who is a GEM) and who revived Doctor Who.

The_Young_Victoria
- Biopic about Victoria's youth.

Mrs. Brown - Starring Dame Judi Dench, Billy Connolly and Geoffrey Palmer, looking at the relationship between Queen Victoria and her Scottish groom John Brown. Unrelated to the very popular series, Mrs. Brown's Boys.

Tea_with_Mussolini
- Starring Dames Maggie Smith & Judi Dench, and Cher about a group of British and American women's experiances during World War 2 in Italy.

Kundun
&
Seven_Years_in_Tibet

- Two films of around the same time chronicling the invasion and occupation of Tibet, and the young life of His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the XIII Dalai Lama.

Call_the_Midwife
- A lovely light drama about Midwives in East London in the 1950s, the storylines typically deal with medical, social, and emotional issues related to the era. Starring Jenny Aguttar, Pam Ferris, Miranda Hart, as well as Vanessa Redgrave.

This_Is_England
- Series of movies set in 1980s working class UK.



British Comedies/Dramedies

Up, Pompeii! - A hilarious classic set in Pompeii before the eruption, with such notable characters as Senator Ludicros Sextus and his daughter Erotica.
Blackadder
- A classic spanning many different eras
Let Them Eat Cake - Pre-Revolution Versailles
Hunderby
-
By the fabulous Julia Davis, set in 19th century England.
A Young Doctor's Notebook
- A very, very dark Dramedy set in Pre-Revolution Russia starring Daniel Radcliffe
Up_the_Women
- A comedy created by Jessica Hynes about a group of Suffragettes in 1910s England.
Hi-De-Hi - 80's series set in a Holiday Camp in 1950s.
You Rang M'Lord? - Same cast as Hi-De-Hi, but set as a spoof of Upstairs, Downstairs.
Allo'Allo' - Epic comedy set in occupied France

The Carry On Films
, most notably Carry On Henry.
 

Stephen Palmer

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#2
Not quite the same thing, but one of my all-time favourite tv programmes was Tales From The Green Valley which was a real enactment of an Elizabethan farm, done month-by-month. With Ronald Hutton!
 

thaddeus6th

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#3
Apart from Blackadder and 'Allo 'Allo I don't think I've seen any of them beyond snippets.

I tried watching the Borgias (currently on 10pm Sunday on Pick), but the first two episodes left me rather disinterested, so I stopped.
 

Jo Zebedee

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#4
I liked Cassanovo, but mainly to ogle David Tennant.

I loved Robin of Sherwood ( the Praed Robin) when I was a kid. Might have been mainly to ogle Michael Praed, though. A theme is emerging...:D
 

svalbard

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#5
I second Robin of Sherwood. The theme music was brilliant for this series. Rome was great. Really enjoyed The Borgias. Irons was brilliantly over the top.

There was a TV series back in the late 70's or early 80's about King Arthur(not Arthur of the Britons) that I vaguely remember watching and thinking where are all the knights in shining armour and isn't this interesting. Could be a BBC production.

Movies...Alexander was pretty good in parts, but disappointed as a whole. Val Kilmer made an excellent Philip of Macedon.
 

Gramm838

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#6
Vikings, available on Lovefilm Instant, is pretty good and apparently quite historically accurate as well
 

BenSt

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#7
Not quite the same thing, but one of my all-time favourite tv programmes was Tales From The Green Valley which was a real enactment of an Elizabethan farm, done month-by-month. With Ronald Hutton!
There's a whole host of amazing history documentaries that Ruth Goodman came out with... including good old Ronald Hutton many times. He came out with a series of his own, 'Professor Hutton's Curiosities' where he goes about to different museums and showcase his favourite peculiar items.

Apart from Blackadder and 'Allo 'Allo I don't think I've seen any of them beyond snippets.

I highly recommend all of them. It's kind of interesting though how many people worked on some of these medieval type shows and movies, who then went on to work on medieval type fantasy like Game of Thrones.

I tried watching the Borgias (currently on 10pm Sunday on Pick), but the first two episodes left me rather disinterested, so I stopped.
I have to take it episode by episode, if I just sit down and watch one after the other it's too much for me.

I liked Cassanovo, but mainly to ogle David Tennant.
Oh I know, he's quite fit isn't he?


I second Robin of Sherwood. The theme music was brilliant for this series. Rome was great. Really enjoyed The Borgias. Irons was brilliantly over the top.

There was a TV series back in the late 70's or early 80's about King Arthur(not Arthur of the Britons) that I vaguely remember watching and thinking where are all the knights in shining armour and isn't this interesting. Could be a BBC production.

Movies...Alexander was pretty good in parts, but disappointed as a whole. Val Kilmer made an excellent Philip of Macedon.
I remember seeing that King Arthur one, but I can't even think what it was called. Alexander was a good movie, not one of my favourites, but still good.

Vikings, available on Lovefilm Instant, is pretty good and apparently quite historically accurate as well
Parts of it are, some parts are very sensationalized...but man some of those vikings look good!
 

BenSt

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#9
He's such a quirky man! Quite a character. The Pagans (some of them) aren't major fans, but one cannot deny his serious scholarship.
 

alchemist

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#10
I enjoyed Rome (what happened the second series?) but went off The Tudors after a while. And of course Blackadder is a classic.

The only film that stood out in my mind was Master and Commander. Apart from being a cracking action film, the sense of time and place was very well done.
 

ralphkern

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#11
I loved Spartacus, it is highly stylized, especially the first series but then the third one just shows you how far TV has come, damn near a movie quality finale.

Apparently they are making a new series that covers the rise of Ceaser (well the triumvirate) which would be interesting as often the viewer or reader is simply 'parachuted in' when Ceaser is already the emperor in terms of seeing him in action. I would like to see, even fictionalized, his earlier career.

Apparently Spartacus, at least structurally in terms of events is fairly accurate, albeit they have to make some assumptions about the Slave armies reasons for splitting etc. Also Spartacus, Crixus and Onameyous (sic) operated more as a triumvirate themselves rather than one being the clear leader.

Although, sadly for the ladies, gladiators in real life were apparently called 'Barleymen' as they were fed a lot of barley in an effort to fatten them up. No rippling six packs, it was all flab to protect their bodies... they would have looked closer to Sumo wrestlers than Spartans...
 

thaddeus6th

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#12
I wonder if such a programme would show Caesar's period as the Queen of Bithynia.

I've read the same about gladiators. Fat bleeds well, helping to put on a good show, and provides a bit of extra protection.
 

ralphkern

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#13
One can only hope. It has the scope to be quite awash buckling though, like when he was taken prisoner by pirates and got offended when they didn't demand enough ransom for him.
 

Aquilonian

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#14
(Ronald Hutton is) Quite a character. The Pagans (some of them) aren't major fans, but one cannot deny his serious scholarship.
Well I'm a pagan who has great respect for Ronald Hutton. I think he's generally well-thought-of among British pagans. The opposition to him, in some quarters, seems to be because he insists on evidence and doesn't collude with individuals and groups who just make up their own history. Even then he's polite about it. Holding to the truth should be the most fundamental ethic of a historian, and it's good pagan ethics too for that matter.

If all other religions had had their own Ronald Huttons to record their early years while the main protagonists were still alive (or not long dead) we would be much more enlightened generally.
 

Aquilonian

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#15
Robin of Sherwood is my very personal number 1, simply because it played a big part in opening my mind to Paganism, at a time (1984) when I was still a born-again Christian. Specifically the episode about Herne the Hunter.

As drama, and for its historical realism, I'd nominate "Rome".

Best history-related series (though not strictly speaking history) was a series called "Living in the Past" which was shown (only once) in the 1970s. It was a bit like Castaway but with normal people, and focused on the practicalities of replicating life in the Celtic Iron Age period, crop growing, animal husbandry, blacksmithing, etc. Absolutely fascinating. Because the aim was education and practical research rather than "Big Brother" style "entertainment", they deliberately recruited only established stable couples. Their only concession to modern life was they let them continue using the contraceptive pill.

They were there for a full year I think, and it was a life-changing experience for all concerned, they all stayed in close contact and several of their grown-up children participated in a similar series about 30 years later, which I didn't see. There's a good book based on the series, produced not long after.

Very interesting info about the gladiators. Surely they can't have been all that fat though, as the extra weight would have reduced mobility and stamina? Also, surely a sword would slide through layers of fat quite easily?
 

ralphkern

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#16
Sorry to burst your bubble. They were apparently a bit more rotund than we are used to. Plus the fat made for a better spectacle.

But bear in mind consider in weight lifting , for example, the athletes are very bulky and flabby... And also stronger. Weightlifting is often confused with body building which is all about aesthetics (although they are, due to their sport far stronger than the norm)

Take a look at this, you might be surprised (they're Olympians so one can say they are pretty much the top if their game)

Can you guess the sport by the shape of the Olympian's body? | Mail Online

Ps apologies it's from the daily mail....
 
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#17
Rome was very good as was The Borgias. Blackadder and Casanova were both fabulous.

Movies, The Madness of King George, both Elizabeth movies starring Kate Blanchett, Anne of a Thousand Days.

I recall watching a BBC production about Elizabeth the First starring Glenda Jackson; I think it was called Elizabeth R. Another good BBC production was The Borgias in the early 80's, Adlfo Celi played Pope Alexander and Oliver Cotton delivered a suitably sinister portrayal of Cesare Borgia.
 

thaddeus6th

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#20
The first, it's being repeated on Pick at 10pm Sundays (I think). The characters really didn't grab me.

I, Claudius has a great range of superb characters. Augustus, Livia, Sejanus, Caligula are all fantastic. Livia's my favourite. Seeing Brian Blessed without a beard and Patrick Stewart with hair is bloody weird, though.
 

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