It’s time to plug the gaping Bridgerton-shaped hole in your life with one of these brilliant TV series…
Bridgerton has been streamed by a whopping 63 million households since it arrived on Netflix on Christmas Day, making it one of the streaming service’s biggest TV releases to date.
Sadly, of course, there were but eight episodes in the show’s first season run, which means that most of us have finished watching – and, fine, rewatching – the period romance by this point.
And, while we anxiously await confirmation of more episodes (because, yes, a further seven seasons are heavily rumoured to be in the works), we can’t help but wonder what we’re going to do to fill the enormous Bridgerton-shaped hole in our lives.
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Well, while it’s unlikely we will find any other series that adequately fills the gaping gap in our TV schedules, we’ve come up with a list of oh-so-watchable shows to tuck into.
And we’ve done our best to ensure that all will tap into some of those same feelings and emotions you experienced watching Shondaland’s big TV show onscreen the first time around. Which means that, yes, you can absolutely go in expecting lavish costumes, high romance, and excellent performances.
There’s also a number of shows with (ahem) sizzling sex scenes in the mix, for which you can thank us later.
The Rise Of Phoenixes
Taking place in the fictional kingdom of Tiansheng, this award-winning series sees Prince Ning Yi (Chen Kun) do his best to avenge his loved ones who were framed and massacred by political opponents.
Feng Zhiwei (Ni NI), meanwhile, is the last princess of the fallen Dacheng Dynasty – and she has solemnly vowed to her mother that she will never ever marry Ning Yi. Too bad, then, that when she enters the court disguised as a man, she finds herself falling deeply and irrevocably in love with him.
The Rise Of Phoenixes is available to stream on Netflix.
Set against the backdrop of 18th century Georgian London, Harlots follows Margaret Wells (Samantha Morton) and her daughters, as she struggles to reconcile her roles as mother and brothel owner.
But, when her business comes under attack from Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville), a rival madam with a ruthless streak, Margaret must fight back… even if it means putting her family at risk.
Harlots is streaming on BBC iPlayer now.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; Channel 4’s The Great – starring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult – absolutely needs to be on your must-watch list. Especially if you love sumptuous costume dramas. And especially if you love those same sumptuous costume dramas to be delivered with more than a sprinkle of wit and good humour.
All about the wildly comedic rise of Catherine the Nothing to Catherine the Great, this TV series muddles the occasional historical fact with lavish scenes of courtly debauchery, sizzling sexual encounters, and Machiavellian machinations galore. Which makes this anti-romance the ideal antidote to Netflix’s Bridgerton, quite frankly.
The Great is available to stream on 4oD.
Vikings might be a male-dominated series, but Katheryn Winnick’s Lagertha is an absolute icon. A mother, warrior, and queen, she’s a beacon of compassion and badassery. And, yeah, you better believe she’s sexually liberated, too.
Vikings is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
ITV’s lavish adaptation of Sanditon – Jane Austen’s unfinished seaside romance, which she famously abandoned four months before her death in 1817 – stars Rose Williams as Charlotte Heywood, who moves away from her countryside hometown to Sanditon, a fishing village trying to reinvent itself as a seaside resort.
There, she’s exposed to the towns “intrigues and dalliances” (and “quite a bit of nude bathing”) in a plot that takes us from sleepy coastal villages to the West Indies to London.
Naturally, there are bonnets aplenty. And, just as naturally, Charlotte falls head-over-heels for the funny and disarming Sidney Parker (Theo James) – because it wouldn’t be an Austen novel without a healthy dash of romance now, would it?
Sanditon is available to stream on BritBox.
Outlander is an obvious go-to for Bridgerton fans, thanks to it being another costume drama full of substance, style, and oh-so-steamy scenes. The plot is harder to explain than that of the Netflix series, mind you, as it involves time-travel. Actual time travel.
Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) is enjoying a second honeymoon in Scotland with her husband, when she’s suddenly transported to 1743 and into a mysterious world where her freedom and life are threatened. As you do.
Ostensibly to survive, she marries strapping Scotsman Jamie Fraser (Jamie Heughan), who spends almost as much time brooding over his complicated and troubled past as he does passionately seducing Claire. And thus you have a recipe for the sort of addictive TV that results in many, many seasons of unmissable drama.
Seasons 1-5 of Outlander are available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
The Spanish Princess
Admit it; you don’t know much about Catherine of Aragon, do you? All we really ever learned about the Tudor queen in school was a) that she failed to produce a male heir for Henry VIII (apparently her daughter, who went on to become Queen Mary I, just wasn’t enough for him), and b) that he divorced her so that he could marry Anne Boleyn.
This series, though, aims to paint a picture of who the strong-willed Princess of Spain was before she became Queen of England. And so Charlotte Hope breathes new life into the royal, taking us back to a time when she was engaged to England’s Prince Arthur. Chilly politeness gives way to hate, hate gives way to love, love gives way to passion – but then Arthur dies suddenly, prompting an utterly lost Catherine to set her sights on the charismatic and headstrong Prince Harry.
The Spanish Princess is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video with a Starzplay subscription.
“After 20 years of war, France is defeated and Napoleon is exiled. A new king is waiting to be crowned. The old order is to be restored. The revolution is to be forgotten. And there are no songs.”
In this epic six-part adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel, an extraordinary cast of characters struggle to survive in war-torn France.
And, as screenwriter Andrew Davies famously promised ahead of the show’s original airing, the sweeping drama includes… well, it includes scenes of a sexual nature.
“I have a reputation for bringing out, and (some say) even inventing the sexual element in the great classics,” he told The Evening Express. “And it is there in Les Misérables, too, but deeply buried.”
Les Misérables is available to stream now on BritBox.
When Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) returns from the American Revolutionary War, he is stunned to discover that his father is dead, his estate is in ruins and his lover is engaged to another man. Slowly but steadily, though, he makes it his mission to rebuild his life. And, yes, he often does so without a shirt on…
Poldark is available to stream on Netflix.
Following the early exploits of Mary, Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane), this highly-fictionalised historical romance has been compared to Gossip Girl thanks to its heavy emphasis on fashion, drama, steamy sex scenes, and soap opera antics. So, if you’re in the mood for some fantastical princess wish-fulfilment, look this way.
Reign is available to stream on Netflix.
The Witcher, based Andrzej Sapkowksi’s incredibly popular fantasy novels and short stories, tells the story of Geralt (Henry Cavill) – a mutated monster hunter – who struggles to find his place in a world in which people are more wicked than beasts, as well as his mysterious connection with the great sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra). And, yes, the steamy bathtub scene you’ve heard about really is as good as everyone says: trust us.
The Witcher is available to stream now on Netflix.
Set in 1832 West Yorkshire, England, Gentleman Jack is inspired by the true-story and coded journals of Anne Lister (Suranne Jones), who is determined to save her faded ancestral home, Shibden Hall, even if it means bucking society’s expectations.
Gentleman Jack is streaming on BritBox now.
AppleTV+’s Dickinson is, ostensibly, a show about the poet Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) in her teen years. However, as Stylist’s Hannah-Rose Yee warns, “Dickinson is weird. It’s wacky and wild and completely, totally wonderful. Sure, as a historical series, it’s riddled with anachronism and half-truths. Anyone who is coming here for a faithful record of Emily Dickinson’s life will be sorely disappointed.”
Dickinson is available to stream on AppleTV+.
Described by critics as “Game of Thrones meets the most debauched year you ever had at Glastonbury,” this debauched Roman romp ticks so many boxes: think wild warrior women, bloody battles, cynical Romans, and powerful Druids who can channel the powerful forces of the underworld. What’s not to love, eh?
Britannia is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.
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