From Viking raids to Tudor dramas, they say that fact can be better than fiction and this is certainly the case when it comes to turning history into a binge-worthy TV series. Political intrigue, societal dramas, and let’s be honest – some incredible costumes are just a few reasons to fall hard for history shows. For all those who love to learn (and to be highly entertained), here are the best history series to soak up…
The famous novels from Hilary Mantel may only boast six-parts but they sure make a splash. Wolf Hall is a critically acclaimed adaptation of Mantel’s work and more than does it justice. Following the rise of Thomas Cromwell in the Tudor court during the reign of Henry the 8th, the show is a slow and delicate burn. The performances are exceptional, especially Claire Foy as Ann Boleyn. After winning a global globe and being nominated for no less than 46 awards and scooping another 9 in its stride, it's definitely worth a watch.
Another fictionalized but fabulous high entertainment offering revolving around the British monarchy, The Crown follows the current royal family and the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The cast list certainly packs a punch with the likes of Helena Bonham Carter, Olivia Coleman, Claire Foy (again) and Matt Smith all bringing the royals to life, and it’s a great way to get a behind the scenes glimpse as to how the royals had to deal with historic events both in the public eye and from a behind the scene's point of view.
The German-language show takes you straight to the heart of Berlin on the cusp of the second world war. It follows a shellshocked soldier suffering from the first world war as he finds himself delving in deep to dangerous waters as he investigates a pornography ring in the capital. Drama, intrigue, incredible costumes, and hypnotic visuals capture a time in history just before the storm.
While unshakable history snobs may turn their nose up at some of the fabled retellings, Vikings is a good solid clash. Following the life and rise of Ragnor Lothbrok and his family as they raid their way across the world. The fight scenes are epic, the drama is a lot of fun, and they do trace the history pretty well making it highly entertaining to digest.
The best-selling books have blown up into a truly beloved TV series. Outlander follows a nurse in world war two as she is transported back to the 18th century and forced to marry a Scottish warrior. It sounds out there, and it is. But it’s also steamy, exciting and communicates a lot about life in Scotland during this era as it battles for its independence from British rule.
Following the direct aftermath of the 1986 disaster in which a nuclear reactor blew with catastrophic consequences, Chernobyl is an award-winning mini-series that demands and deserves attention. Exceptional performances, a heartbreaking series of events, and tense political drama have earnt Chernobyl all the accolades it so rightly deserves.
Which historical dramas have you been binging on? Share in the comments and let’s brush up on our history skills in the most entertaining way.