Netflix binge: for geeky historian romantic types

The thing I like about Netflix is that it’s a real mixed bag. If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I’m a ghost of the medieval and 19th centuries trapped in a 21st century world. I’m fine with this, because the health care is better and I’d have eleven children by now if I’d really been living where my soul belongs. But I do like to indulge my true self in a bit of historical Netflix.

These ancient binges happen rarely and are usually tucked up at the end of a good blogging day or when all the floors have been washed and the bathrooms scrubbed as best they can of the cakey mildew that has gilded itself to the taps. (They will never be fully clean – I don’t think even that famous Scottish cleaner Aggie could get my cistern wear shining – hard water).

I delve between centuries, clicking in and out of where my form is folding – some days I go for early 19th century, other times the flounciness of the 1600s. If I’m feeling a bit Tudoresque, I’ll head back to the mid 1500s. And I’ve been thinking a lot about the 1930s, so I need to go there too soon.

Here is a collection of what I’ve watched over the past few weeks. You might want to have a look yourself, or if you think I’m a ridiculous fool who needs to get a life and go out or something – that’s fine. I do need to do that.

highclere castle

I LOVE documentaries. Louis Theroux is my hero. All those long pauses, with one arched eyebrow waiting for the film victim to reveal their most devilish thoughts. I’ve long discovered that real life can be far more scandalous than fiction. And I love to learn. The two documentaries I recently watched on Netflix were part of a ‘Secrets of’ series called Secrets of Chatsworth and Secrets of Highclere castle. I’m planning a research trip to visit these two castles, hopefully in 2016. They are fascinating places, packed with stories of Lords and Ladies, wealth and welfare, scandal and solicitation. Both have thrown their doors open to the public – Highclere Castle is where Downton Abbey is filmed and that is how both survive. If you’d like to take a look at the true history of these places and the real Mr and Mrs Crawley, then have a go at these.


Hope me wig doesn’t catch fire

One of my favourite movies is The Duchess. I’m generally not a fan of Keira Knightly, (but I’m getting over that and realise I may have been too quick to judge her in her skinniness) She is excellent in this as her portrayal of Lady Georgiana Spencer, (a relative of Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales). The true story tells of her high falutin ways, a complicated marriage and a passionate affair with Charles Grey, a charismatic politician of the day. After I saw the movie originally I read Amanda Foreman’s book about The Duchess which was a weighty read but gave a great insight into the suffering of an 18th century aristocrat. Five stars!

The Young Victoria is set in the early 1800s and charts the tenatative years of the longest reigning British Monarch to date  We know her as a cross looking lady in black, but in this we get an insight into her true personality and the passionate relationship between her and her beloved husband Albert. It also portrays the difficulties of life as a royal female in these times – and how she managed to stand up for herself. Lovely movie, starring Emily Blunt.

I somehow clicked into a 2007 movie called Angel. I obviously liked the storyline which read: ‘grocer’s daughter writes her way to success as a romance novelist’. Jesus it was shite. Don’t bother watching. I did watch till the end because the character Angel Deverell was interesting – a really horrible type person, but definitely a waste of an evening. For me anyway!

Finally the most recent move I watched was Lady Jane set in 1553. Lady Jane is played by Helena Bonham Carter and it actually looks like it is 1553 because she’s so young in it. I was fascinated by a scene in it, where Lady Jane is flogged by her mother across a chair – to persuade her into marriage. I remember watching this on TV as a child and being completely traumatised by it. Good parenting there Mom and Dad! It’s a true 1980s movie but watchable.

upstairs downstairs
Fa fa fa fa

TV Series
Upstairs Downstairs is a bit like the original Downton Abbey only nowhere near as good. It’s set a bit further than where Downton starts – in the 1930s but when Downton has ended and you’re despearate for a bit of historical TV escapism, this will do the job. Netflix also features Mr Selfridge, which I’ve watched a bit on TV. I love the costumes and the every dayness of the workers getting on with their jobs – but I haven’t really been following the series. (Besides, if you’ve ever seen Entourage, it’s weird to watch Ari Gold giving it up to a load of naive 19th century chicks).

So there you have it. My historical Netflix binge. What are your favourite historical movies and dramas to watch? Or am I out on my own, like a big geek waving in the wind here?


December Girl is now available on Audio. Visit Amazon or Audible or click on the cover below to download.

December Girl audiobook
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