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Period TV dramas

Posted by sheilajoyce (My Page) on
Fri, Oct 19, 12 at 15:38

I am enjoying Call the Midwife, a BBC production set in supposedly 1950 in urban England. I do have to say that having lived through that era in the States, it seems like a much earlier period. However, this is England.

My sister recommended Bomb Girls, which I cannot get. But it is a story of the women in a factory during WWII. I saw one episode when I was visiting my daughter, and I am sorry I don't get it here.

I am also enjoying the new Upstairs, Downstairs on PBS. This version is set during the period prior to the outbreak of WWII in England. Very interesting to see how they struggled with the rising influence of Nazism and the abdication.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Period TV dramas

Mad Men falls into this category and does a pretty good job of depicting life in the early Sixties, when Women's Liberation was still on the horizon. If you remember the show called The Wonder Years, it covers that era. It was a time that was very transitional for our country. Think how different it was in the US from 1960 to 1970. Huge changes. I love Mad Men.


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Yes, Mad Men is a pleasure to watch also. My son loved The Wonder Years when he was growing up. It was filmed in the area where he lives now.


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I love Call the Midwife!

but it's set between the Boer War & World War I (remember the old guy, Joe, whose leg Jenny had to treat? he was a veteran of the Boer War).

That's why it seems so "old-time".

& I was totally intrigued by Upstairs Downstairs.
lots of history, or at least really accurate historical fiction, there.


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From the PBS website...
"Call the Midwife is a moving and intimate insight into the colorful world of midwifery and family life in 1950's East London. We are introduced to the community through the eyes of young nurse Jenny Lee as she arrives at Nonnatus House to live and work as a midwife alongside an Order of Nuns."


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I also am enjoying Call the Midwife. How about that scene where the baby in the breech position was born. Yikes!

Of course -- Downton Abbey.


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I've never heard of Bomb Girls either. What channel carries it?

Why is it that nearly all of the shows I like are on during the same three hours on Sunday night? The rest of the week is like a desert. . . er, vast wasteland. Good thing I like to read.


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We watch all of this 'Brit' TV! The Midwife series only SEEMS to be pre-WWII. It is surprising to hear the 1950's American pop songs when the atmosphere is so different in the UK.

After WWII my uncle was recruited to help modernize a Yorkshire woolen mill. The UK had rationing for a long time after the war; we sent 'care' packages, which my aunt shared with other executive families at the mill. When my mother and I visited England in 1955, we were royally entertained as a thank you for the food parcels. Everything looked much as it does in the Midwives series.

I'm less thrilled with Mad Men now. The early seasons had more 'meat'. It's become too lightweight for me.

I like Midwives much better than the new Upstairs Downstairs. (There's nobody to *like* 'upstairs'!) Looking forward to Downton Abbey.

I'll send DH searching for the Bomb Girls. We enjoyed Land Girls -- series 1 & 2 -- on DVD.


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I agree, maxmom. Sunday night is overloaded with shows I want to watch. Bomb Girls is on REELZ, a channel which I don't get. Yes, of course, Downton Abby is wonderful to watch also. I left that one out figuring we were all watching that show on PBS already.

As for the Sunday night overload, sometimes a Sunday show gets repeated during the week, and so I will record it then if it is in conflict with another show on Sunday.

And another show I enjoy set in the Prohibition Era is Boardwalk Empire. Since it is about gangsters, it can be violent.

Can't decide if I like Copper, about a policeman in a poor area of New York city (The Triangle/Hell's Kitchen?) pre Civil War.


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All I can say is if they ever had a marathon of PBS British dramas (which I hadn't seen before,) you'd never get me off the couch. Unfortunately, dh doesn't share my obsession so he goes off to watch his American (violent, imo) whodunnits on a different tv at that time.


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Yes, "Call the Midwife" is early 1950s, Britain was still recovering from WWII then. Joe the Boer War veteran was _old_...had it been set between the Boer War and WWI he would have been most likely in his mid 30s-40s at the latest. And he mentioned his wife had been killed in the Blitz.
My MIL did her midwifery training back then and her first job was down by the docks in the East End, very close to where "Call the Midwife" is set. She says it is very accurate.


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The Bomb Girls is a Canadian show, filmed in Toronto.
It's great, we really enjoyed it last year. Thanks for the reminder to start watching it again.

It's a great show, showing women working in a bomb factory.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bomb Girls


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"midwifery and family life in 1950's East London"

oops, pardon me-I misunderstood!
You're right, Joe was an old guy, don't know how I missed that.

I dunno, I sorta like Lady Agnes, she does the best she can.
& the butler, although a stuffy person (well, he's a butler) is an interesting character-he grew up Quaker & was a CO (conscientious objector) during...well, I'm still confused...during some war.

"Persie", Lady Persephone, Lady Agnes's bratty little sister, is pretty close to despicable, but she adds depth to the show.

& I like, so far anyway, Lord whoever, Lady Agnes's husband.
He takes his responsibilities seriously & he turned down a job offer from Joe Kennedy!


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I'm also enjoying Call the Mid Wife and Upstairs, Downstairs very much.

I catch Mad Men when I can...a big fan of this show.


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I also enjoy hearing about "that Mrs. Simpson" in the pre abdication period. I believe Lord Hallam's friend from Buckingham Palace is Bertie, the prince who took the throne upon his brother's abdication. But I can't quite figure him out as in real life he was married and seemed more settled than this fellow. Also, Bertie had a stammer, and this guy/actor doesn't. So I am still guessing as to who he is.

Anyone know?


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Perhaps it's that the Upstairs bunch are so 'removed from reality'. The class they depict probably WERE rather 'cardboard', but the production could try to give them more depth and make them less...vapid. (I haven't used that word in ages, but have written it twice in a month on this forum!)

The Downstairs people are *real people* who earn our concern and interest.

I don't remember feeling as disinterested in Upstairs on the original production that was narrated by "Rose".


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I missed an episode or two of "Upstairs..." What happened to the matriarch and to the head housekeeper? I did see what happened to the monkey!


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I watched it, well, "them", last night!

Call the Midwife was excellent as usual, & heartbreaking;
it was the episode where a distraught young girl steals a baby.

& Up/Down was really good, too.

sjerin, I don't know which matriarch & housekeeper you remember, but in last night's episode, Lady Agnes visited Rose in a convalescent home (I think it was really an old folks' home).

& Lady Persie just gets worse & worse;
I do think it might be a mistake to make one character such a total brat/bad girl/demon.


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Lord Hallam's mother was not in this year's shows and some mention was made of her in the past tense, so I don't know what happened. Rose is in the hospital. Both fates befell the women between season 1 and season 2.

I do love seeing how the early Nazis were trying to ooze their way into British society. Loved the new butler's solution to getting Mrs. Simpson's Nazi guest to leave the party. Over the years to come, Mrs. Simpson and the Duke are successfully wooed by Hitler, as I recall.

It was interesting to see the viewpoint, ever so briefly, of those who wanted to appease in the early years/stages. Joe Kennedy and his family arrive to be our diplomat for a short spell before he was called home. He also was wooed by the Nazis. And I find the early discussions of the soon to be great Winston Churchill quite interesting too.


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Thanks, Sylvia and sheilajoice. You answered my questions!


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From what I've read on the Internet, Eileen Atkins (Lady Maude), who wrote the original U/D series with Jean Marsh, didn't care for how the screenwriters were proceeding, so she quit, but I think the screenwriters could've explained her character's absence a little more smoothly.

The Jean Marsh character's absence was handled even more strangely, I think. I read that Jean Marsh had a slight stroke and a heart attack last year.

For two other period dramas, you should see if you can find "House of Eliott" (which Atkins and Marsh also wrote) -- I loved that. And I think I've got "The Buccaneers" in my Netflix lineup (not by them, but def a period drama).
Also, "The Duchess of Duke Street" series I got from the library and enjoyed.

Been watching "Call the Midwife," too -- and now I know how to pronounce "midwifery"!


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I watched the first episode of Call the Midwife last night. Loved it! The opening scene said it took place in 1957. I agree--it seemed quite a bit earlier. For instance, the instrument used to listen to the baby's heartbeat looks rather primitive. Of course, nuns in full habits make everything seem a tad medieval. :-)


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Those things puzzled me, too.
Doctors had been using stethoscopes for a long time...


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According to this brochure from the Baby Centre in the UK they still use fetal trumpets - and this was updated two years ago.

............"
Your midwife will use a small piece of equipment, placed on your belly, to carry out intermittent monitoring. The piece of equipment may be either a hand-held Doppler ultrasound (called a Sonicaid) or an ear trumpet (called a Pinard stethoscope)."

Here is a link that might be useful: ear trumpet


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do you recall the documentries about actual "modern" families living in real homes of pre-www1, ww2 and one in a country home? thought the women in the first one were going to go bonkers with the once a week bath, no modern vac, beating rugs over the line, and washing clothes by hand? they hired a maid, and her day was about 16 hours!


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Lord Hallam's royal friend is Prince George, the Duke of Kent. Now THERE is a story that needs telling! Read all about him on Wickipedia. He was among the Nazi appeasers, bi-sexual, a user of drugs, and he died in a most peculiar 'accident' in 1942. I believe he was also the only member of his immediate family to have a soft spot for the youngest brother, who was hidden away because of his epilepsy and died very young. (That story was told in "The Lost Prince".)

The actor portraying the duke bears a remarkable resemblance to his character.


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