A List of the Best in British/BBC Good, Clean Family-Friendly TV Series on DVD and Blu-ray

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British programming is popular on DVD and Blu-ray.  I’m sure that part of it is because it’s not so easy to just turn on a TV and watch it in the U.S. but also because some of it is high quality.

Here are our picks for the top British/BBC/Masterpiece Theatre programs; 15 to own on DVD or Blu-ray.

This is a summary of our list if you do not want to read our entire blog:

#14 – Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

Grade: B+

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – I really liked it, but it was too long for my  liking. If you have a few hours to spare then I would recommend watching it. It was an enjoyable movie and the actors did a great job.

Summary – Based on Jane Austen’s classic novel, Sense and Sensibility tells of the Dashwood sisters, sensible Elinor (Thompson) and passionate Marianne (Winslet), whose chances at marriage seem doomed by their family’s sudden loss of fortune. Rickman, Grant, and Greg Wise co-star as the well-intentioned suitors who are trapped by the strict rules of society and the conflicting laws of desire.

#13 – Lark Rise to Candleford

Lark Rise to Candleford

Grade: B+

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – A sweet story about a young lady who must leave her town to get  a job in a different town that is close by.  It is a lovely story.

Summary – Set in the late 19th century, this rich, funny and emotional series follows the relationship of two contrasting communities: Lark Rise, a small hamlet gently holding onto the past, and Candleford, a neighboring market town bustling into the future. When young Laura Timmins leaves Lark Rise for a job at the Candleford post office, she discovers an eye-opening, exciting new world. In the face of scandals and feuds, she must leave her childhood behind and forge her own path to womanhood.

#12 – As Time Goes By

As Time Goes By

Grade: B+

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – A love story where two people are separated for decades and then fate brings them back together. Very cute story for all to enjoy.

Summary – Once upon a time, a dashing young British Army officer and a lovely student nurse fell deeply, magically in love. Then he was shipped off to Korea and they never heard from one another. Forty years later, fate brings them together again… with hilarious results. From the first moment Jean and Lionel meet again to the wedding of Alistair and Judith, all the classic moments are here for fans to enjoy.

#11 – Masterpiece Collection: Jane Eyre (Currently Unavailable)

Grade: A-

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – This is also a classic. If you like movies of this genre especially Pride and Prejudice than you would most likely enjoy this one.

Summary – After a wretched childhood, orphaned Jane Eyre yearns for new experiences. She accepts a governess position at Thornfield Hall, where she tutors a lively French girl named Adele. She soon finds herself falling in love with the brooding master of the house – the passionate Mr. Rochester. Jane gradually wins his heart, but they must overcome the dark secrets of the past before they can find happiness. When Jane saves Rochester from an eerie fire, she begins to suspect that there are many mysteries behind the walls of Thornfield Hall. Her fears are confirmed when Rochester’s secret past is revealed, destroying her chance for happiness, and forcing Jane to flee Thornfield. Penniless and hungry, she finds shelter and friendship in the shape of a kind clergyman and his family. But she is soon shocked to uncover the deeply hidden truth of her own past.

#10 – Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Grade: A-

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – This film is such a classic and a must see by all. Such a beautiful story of love.  This is a great movie especially to watch for all girl parties!

Summary – Pride and Prejudice is the story of the lively and rebellious Elizabeth Bennet, one of five unmarried daughters living in the countryside of 19th Century England. In a world where obtaining an advantageous marriage is a woman’s sole occupation, Elizabeth’s independent manner threatens her family’s future. Will her romantic sparring with the mysterious and arrogant Darcy end in misfortune – or will love’s true nature prevail?

#9 – The Vicar of Dibley

The Vicar of Dibley

Grade: A-

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – This series is well written. It is very comical and has an original/interesting plot.

Summary – The sleepy village of Dibley was blindsided back in 1994 by the arrival of its new vicar — who had the audacity to be a woman! Over the twelve ensuing years — with the help of a sharp wit, a double dose of double entendre and a healthy supply of chocolate — she gradually won the hearts of even the crustiest of the town’s eccentric inhabitants.

#8 – Jeeves and Wooster

Jeeves and Wooster

Grade: A-

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – I have only seen a couple episodes and I thought they were okay. There were some funny parts and the characters were intriguing, but not enough to keep me wanting to watch the entire series. However, I do have a friend that loves this TV show and he has watched every episode.

Summary – Bertie Wooster is the classic young British man of means, blessed with a touch too generous a heart and a slight deficit in the noggin department. Jeeves is his hilariously arch and resourceful valet, a “Gentleman’s Gentleman” without equal who sees Bertie through the never-ending swirl of hopeless old friends, indomitable aunts, unbidden guests, and romantic entanglements that dominate his life.

#7 – Cranford

Cranford

Grade: A-

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – An interesting story about the small town of Cranford located in England. The plot is good, interesting and the actors know what they are doing.

Cranford
Summary – Cranford, a market town in the North West of England, is a place governed by etiquette, custom and above all, an intricate network of ladies. It seems that life has always been conducted according to their social rules, but Cranford is on the cusp of change… For spinsters Deborah Jenkyns, the arbiter of correctness in Cranford, and Matty, her demurring sister, the town is a hub of intrigue – a handsome new doctor Frank Harrison from London has arrived; a retired Captain and his daughters have moved in to a house opposite and the preparations for Lady Ludlows garden party are underway. Everyone – from charming rogue Dr Marshland to mean Mrs Jamieson and her lap dog talks, and is talked about, behind closed doors. The town also has its secrets which it slowly reveals: Mattys encounter with an old flame at the garden party; Lady Ludlows gardener, Mr Carter, teaching a gypsy lad to read and write; the wild expectations of the May Day celebrations and – news that shakes the town when it is revealed – a railway line from Manchester is coming to Cranford.

Return To Cranford
Summary – Captain Brown believes that modernization is inevitable if the town is to survive and knows that the young people, like Jem, will have to move to find work. However, Matty is delighted to see the return to Cranford, after an absence of two years, of her dear friend, Mr Buxton, with his son, William, and his niece, Erminia. The recent death of Mrs Buxton has left both husband and son grief-stricken and at odds with each other. Mr Buxton has hopes of a parliamentary career and an advantageous marriage for his son. But William has ideas of his own. Matty is concerned about another young person. Peggy Bell lives in an isolated cottage outside the town with her mother and domineering, ambitious brother, Edward. Matty fears Peggy has no friends and is in danger of becoming too inward-looking and as isolated as their cottage. She decides to intervene and engineers an invitation that will bring the four young people together. But, as tragedy strikes, she comes to believe that, unwittingly, she has opened Pandora’s box and fears that Cranford will never recover.

#6 – Little Dorrit

Little Dorrit

Grade: A-

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – Another authentic BBC classic series that will keep you intrigued the whole time. If  you like Pride and Prejudice you would probably enjoy this film as well.

Summary – This gripping new series brings to life Dickens’s powerful story of struggle and hardship in 1820s London. When Arthur Clennam (Macfadyen) returns to England after many years abroad, his curiosity is piqued by the presence in his mother’s house of a young seamstress, Amy Dorrit (Foy). His quest to discover the truth about Little Dorrit takes him to the Marshal sea Debtors Prison, where he discovers that the dark shadows of debt stretch far and wide in a web of desperation and deceit.

#5 – Fawlty Towers

Fawlty Towers

Grade: A-

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – Fawlty Towers is a comedy show that can either be seen as hilarious or really  ridiculous. I think it depends on the type of comedy you enjoy. I find that the humor is a little out there for my taste.

Summary – Basil Fawlty is a much put-upon, hard-working hotel manager whose life is plagued by dead guests, hotel inspectors, and riff-raff. Of course his biggest headache is his “little nest of vipers,” his nagging wife Sibyl. Together they run their hotel, Fawlty Towers, with a little help from the unflappable Polly and the trainee waiter from Barcelona with marginally more intelligence than a monkey, Manuel.

#4 – Sherlock

Sherlock

Grade: A-

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – An intense twist on the classic Sherlock Holmes made into a TV series and made modern. I have only seen a couple episodes of this series so far, but I have really enjoyed watching them. The main actors do a great job and I look forward to finishing the series.

Summary -True to the spirit of the original books, this series plunges viewers into a fast-paced world where Holmes and Watson must navigate a maze of cryptic clues and lethal killers to solve three thrilling, action packed, modern-day mysteries:
· A Study In Pink
· The Blind Banker
· The Great Game

#3 – North and South BBC Version

North and South BBC Version

Grade: A

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – This classic BBC film is very good. If you like BBC I would recommend this one. It has such an authenticity to it and brings a feeling of peace and comfort.

Summary – As the daughter of a middle-class parson, Margaret Hale has enjoyed a privileged upbringing in rural southern England. But when her father uproots the family, she is forced to adapt to a new life in Milton – a northern mill town in the throes of the industrial revolution. Margaret is shocked by her new surroundings. Appalled by the dirt, noise and gruffness of the people of Milton, she saves her greatest contempt for the mill-owners. When John Thornton, charismatic proprietor of Marlborough Mills, becomes a ‘pupil’ of her father, she makes her distaste for this vulgar and uneducated new class abundantly clear. Over time, Margaret’s attitude towards the mill workers begins to change and she joins their workplace struggles against poverty and disease. But will she ever change her view of the employers – in particular, one who has secretly become her admirer?

#2 – Life

Life

Grade: A

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – This movie is incredible, you get to see creatures in a way you have never seen before. The video captures amazing footage of a huge variety of living creatures in a very interesting and captivating way. I really enjoyed this movie and it changed my perspective.

Summary –  Four years in the making, filmed over 3000 days, across every continent and in every habitat, with breathtaking new high definition filming techniques developed since Planet Earth, Life presents 130 incredible stories from the frontiers of the natural world, 54 of which have never been filmed before. Discover the glorious variety of life on Earth and the spectacular and extraordinary tactics animals and plants have developed to stay alive. This is evolution in action; individual creatures under extreme pressure to overcome challenges from adversaries and their environment, pushing the boundaries of behavior.

#1 – Planet Earth

Planet Earth

Grade: A

Mommy Bear’s Family Movie Review – There are two versions of this and from what I can gather, the BBC version is much better.

Summary – This stunning television experience captures rare action, impossible locations and intimate moments with out planet’s best-loved, wildest and most elusive creatures. From the highest mountains to the deepest rivers, Planet Earth takes you to places you’ve never been to experience sights and sounds never before captured on film. Prepare to be overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty of Planet Earth.

Comments

  1. Sarah Bagley says

    I love the programming- most of which my son also loves. we always look forward to rainy days and public broadcasting. :-)

  2. Rachel Neufeld says

    We really enjoyed the life and planet earth series. They are great to watch with the kids too. My boys love to see the animals.

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