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Centred around the small Cheshire town of the show’s title, ‘Cranford’ follows the stories of a number of widows and single women who’d prefer to build their own lives in a time where they weren’t expected to do so.
Adapted from three novellas by Elizabeth Gaskell and with a stellar cast including Judy Dench, Imelda Staunton and Tom Hiddleston, this warm depiction of the highs and lows (and salacious gossip) surrounding the residents of this town, is a fine example of BBC period drama. There more than a little wit and gentle satire thrown in for good measure.
These TV series like ‘Cranford’ feature women throughout the ages who’ve taken up a calling and have not shied away from making their own rules.
Commissioned to mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, ‘Land Girls’ is a series similar to ‘Cranford’ in that the central female characters all have to take on traditionally ‘male’ roles in order to help the war effort by joining the Women’s Land Army.
As the series progresses, we learn more about each of the characters, why they came to work at Pasture Farm, and also about the ensuing power struggles that emerged amongst those of different social classes.
Initially raising a few eyebrows for not being entirely historically accurate, ‘Land Girls’ did go on to win ‘Best Daytime Programme’ at the 2009 Broadcast Awards.
‘Call the Midwife’ has become one of the best-loved BBC dramas of recent years, with the recent season 5 finale pulling in an impressive 9 million viewers.
We follow a group of working women through times of incredible social change, focusing (unsurprisingly) on a group of midwives within the poverty-stricken East London of the 1950’s.
Praised also for having tackled many sensitive topics surrounding the era, the next series certainly promises to have a lot more in store for these ladies as the swinging 60’s loom heavily on the horizon.
Set in London in the thick of the roaring twenties, ‘The House of Eliott’ follows the Eliott sisters as they strive to become high fashion designers, despite the odds being stacked against them. With only three short series under its (perfectly styled) belt, the show has gone on to become a cult favourite, and in doing so, attracted fans in the unlikeliest of places.
Our two protagonists, Beatrice (known as Bea) and Evangeline (known as Evie), have to become the masters of their own fortune after they’re left orphaned and almost destitute after the sudden death of their father.
With rumours of a revival on the horizon, our Sunday night schedule is going to get a lot more glamorous!
Another short-lived period drama with an intriguing premise comes in the form of ‘The Bletchley Circle’.
Following the formidable code-breakers of Bletchley Park after the Second World War, they once more come together to use their powers of deduction to solve crime and weed out the corruption that has taken root within Scotland Yard.
Its unexpected cancellation aside, ‘The Bletchley Circle’ is a TV show like ‘Cranford’ where rather than wait for corrupt authorities to deal with a crimewave, these strong and talented women don’t think twice about using their skills for the good of society.
If you like the gossip and hustle and bustle of ‘Cranford’ but are looking for something based in the present, then how about a glimpse into the workings of the US Government (albeit in the small, fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana).
‘Parks and Recreation’ follows mid-level bureaucrat, Leslie Knope, as she tries her damnedest amidst constant opposition, incompetence, and blunders, to make her beloved hometown of ‘Pawnee’ a better place, one public space at a time.
This fly-on-the-wall style sitcom never has a dull moment, with Leslie and the rest of her department trying to remain positive (mostly) in the face of how insignificant others may tell them their roles or their contributions are.
It’s a TV show like ‘Cranford’ in that the female characters do not hide their support and admiration for one another, and are always on hand to help each other achieve their goals.
If you’re looking for more TV shows like ‘Cranford’ then perhaps ‘North & South’, another BBC adaptation of an Elizabeth Gaskell’s work, may be what you need? ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ may also be to your liking, as well as the recent revival of ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’.
Have we missed any TV shows like ‘Cranford’?
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