If You Can’t Be in London, Watch British Television

by | Oct 14, 2014 | 31 Days to London


Every Sunday afternoon at 4pm, no matter what we are doing, it all comes to a grinding halt. We leave book tents on coffee tables, hibernate computers, leave dishes lining the counters and gather in our living room with miniature glasses of port.

For Downton Abbey, of course.

If you are a die hard fan wondering how in the world we are watching the new season when you have to wait a few more months, one word: Hola. Tada!

You’re welcome.

Long before we ever knew moving to London was on the horizon, British television shows have been a staple in our entertainment diet. If you’ve been following me for very long, you know I have a Pinterest Board entitled, I Live in England, in my Heart. My Twitter profile echoes the same sentiment.

And there is that little detail in my ancestry dating back one thousand years ago. When H discovered that I’m related to British nobility we visited the ancestral home, Muncaster Castle in Ravenglass. And what we discovered in history fuels expectancy.

Much of life is a surprising discovery of the ways in which God fashions our existence long before we were a thought on the horizon. Our passions and intuitive leanings often have more to do with destiny than we presume upon first glance.


But I’ll let you in on a little secret about streaming Downton Abbey. It can sometimes prove to be a little glitchy and we miss part of the conversations. Just in case you were jealous. And this.

I like watching the commercials just as much as the Granthams.

The commercials give me a taste of cultural differences and I like diversity, remember?

An advertisement for an “American refrigerator” is insightful. Because the refrigerator being marketed is similar to the biggest lemon in my kitchen. As I write this, a loud knock from the ice maker echoes throughout my house at random intervals. After being on a first name basis with the repairman, we are crossing our arms and refusing to fix it. We’ll be outta here shortly, I hope.

Though Downton Abbey is my favorite, there are several other British series that have equally captured my attention. And many can be found on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The Hour – set in Lime Grove Studio, this suspenseful series is based on the launch of a BBC current affairs show set in the 50’s. Hooked after the first two episodes, I binged the rest of the series over a few days when I was fighting depression about our long waiting period to London. It turns out, we’ll be living in the same neighborhood where Lime Grove was originally located. Amazing serendipity, yes?

Mr. Selfridge – Based in the 1910’s, this series revolves around the personal life of Harry Selfridge, colorful American tycoon and founder of Selfridge & Co., a chain of upscale department stores in London. The apparel, setting, and well-written stories are captivating. The flagship store on Oxford Street is still the second major retailer in the UK after Harrods.

Call the Midwife – picture young women in the 50’s riding bikes in nurses uniforms around East London to care for pregnant mothers while living in a convent and dating eligible bachelors when off duty. I love the inside conversations between them more than the excruciating scenes of giving birth. And the styles make me swoon. I think I was born in the wrong time period.

The Paradise – set in the Victorian era of glam lifestyles, this one is also about a decadent department store run by an overzealous, dashing entrepreneur, John Moray, who becomes captivated by a country girl hired to work on his large staff. Spoiler alert – they cancelled the show before filming the ending so no resolution people. I was terribly disappointed but still worth the watch.

Then there is Sherlock which H thinks is the best show ever written for television and Broadchurch, currently premiering as Gracepoint in the US with a different cast. Psst, the British one is better, just sayin’.

What have I left off the list? Share your favorite British shows in the comments so we can talk about how they make us happy. When you can’t BE in London, at least you can live vicariously through television. This is the gift of story, yes?


I won’t be sharing my posts on social networking channels daily because who wants to see that much of me, really? If you want to follow our adventure to London subscribe to the blog in the side bar and posts will slide quietly into you inbox. Start from the beginning of the series here.


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  1. Toni Gatlin

    I’ve been a happy girl ever since I discovered AcornTV. Best $5 I spend each month!

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh my, I just looked it up. Thanks Toni.

  2. Monica Lee

    Acorn TV? Can I get that here? US TV is not very sophisticated for sure. I say that as I’m glued to The Voice!

  3. ChristinDitchfield

    My grandparents on one side and great-grandparents on the other are British, so watching British TV makes me feel like they’re still with me. That feeling is home to me, more than any place I’ve ever lived. In addition to the ones you’ve mentioned, I’d add the Cranford series (Jane Austen era) and Britcoms “To the Manor Born” from the 70s and “As Time Goes By” from the 90s 🙂 You might also like Doc Martin (kind of House-ish) or Lark Rise to Candleford (almost a British Little House on the Prairie). Blessings to you!

    • Lynn Morrissey

      Yes, to all these Christin, and who could forget Hyacinth Bucket?! My Sheridan thinks I am a reincarnation of her…..complete with a child named Sheridan (or as Hyacinth says Sheh-uhhhhh-dun!) =]

      • Janet from FL

        Loved “As Time Goes By”, and yes Mrs. “Booh-kay” residence is hysterical!

      • ChristinDitchfield

        Oh my! That’s hard for me to imagine, Lynni 🙂 Though I could see you hosting some lovely candlight suppers!

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks Christin, you’ve given me lots to check out and I love knowing your grandparents are British, so awesome.

      • ChristinDitchfield

        Yes! Praying for your adventures and thinking of you as I make a proper cup of tea 🙂

  4. Mary Gemmill

    I enjoy British Television also and love the shows you love except 2 I haven’t heard of yet. Downton season is about to start again soon! I hear you about heritage and was sharing with someone just yesterday how my great aunt was a missionary in China, and “somehow” I inherited her treasures,,,,and her love for China and teaching Chinese people about Jesus. my son has inherited this passion…so I see how you came by your love of England and the English. I am enjoying this series as it feels like I am journeying with you, in spirit. xx

    • Shelly Miller

      Glad you feel like you are with me on the journey Mary, because I think you are!

  5. Sheri

    if you ever get a chance to watch the series Our Zoo you’ll like that too – 6 part just finished here so will be available shortly I would have thought. I loved it, just up your street Shelly! xx

    • Shelly Miller

      H has seen the first two episodes Sheri, I’ll have to check it out, thanks!

  6. Devi Abraham Duerrmeier

    Yes! I totally get this. When I was packing up my things in Melbourne to move to Switzerland after marriage, I found a journal I wrote in my teens. In it I had a list of things I wanted to do before I died and in the top five – visit Switzerland, France and Italy.. I saw this a few days before moving to Geneva, Switzerland, which is minutes away from France an an hour or two from Italy by car. God knows our desires so much more than we can even understand..

    • Shelly Miller

      I love that! I recently went through some of my old journals too Devi and it was a fond remembrance. If we could see our lives like one big map it would give us so much perspective wouldn’t it?

  7. Lisa

    Midwives was so well done; every character played with detailed personality and charm. Enjoy all that you have listed. Then there is Folyle’s War, it remains a favorite, and the long running detective series starring Helen Mirren (the name escape me at the moment).

    • Shelly Miller

      Lisa, H watches Foyle’s War sometimes after I’m asleep (he’s the night owl) and I’ll have to watch it too now. Thanks!

  8. Jillie

    Hi Shelly! Love this post, for obvious reasons. Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I couldn’t view British programming–it sure beats so much of the garbage spewing out of our T.V. screens here, yes?
    My son is a HUGE Benedict Cumberbatch fan, so ‘Sherlock’ IS a biggie with our whole family. Excellent taste, H. That show is absolutely BRILLIANT!
    Just rec’d a hardback book for my Birthday on ‘Downton’, which I love. Have all the seasons and will soon be reviewing each in preparation for Canadian T.V. release sometime in January.
    ‘Mr. Selfridge’? Excellent! Husband and I love ‘Inspector Lewis!!!’ I have a ‘tradition’ where I plug an episode in EVERY Monday night while he’s away at floor hockey. Am excited to find yet another new season showing on ‘Masterpiece Mystery’ right now.
    Wish I’d gotten into ‘Foyle’s War’. What I’ve seen is captivating.
    But, presently, I must say that ‘DOC MARTIN’ is my current favourite. Martin Clunes is so funny and the storyline with ‘Louiser’ (Louisa) keeps me glued to the screen. All the characters on this show are so quirky and so ‘Cornwall-ish’. Brings me much laughter. Check it out, Shelly.

    • Shelly Miller

      Jillie, I think you and I would make fast (real life) friends if we lived in the same neighborhood! I’m going to have to check out Doc Martin, not familiar with that one, thank you!

      • Lynn Morrissey

        Oh yes, Jillie, Inspector Lewis, and didn’t you love the original, Morse? Mike loves Doc Martin, and I’ve seen snippets of it that are really funny like the birth episode, but I don’t really know the series. Maybe Christin mentioned When Time Goes By. Originally, it didn’t appeal to me, but Mother encouraged me to watch it, and I loved it. The characters were so realistic. Britain just understands this vehicle. Interestingly, I heard Julian Fellowes say that he used British plotlines for Downton, but with the action twists of an American mini series. It’s certainly a win-win combination. Oh, Shelly, you are going to love all of this…..and all the culture…..the cathedrals, museums, great music of the masters, etc., etc. But moreover, what abundant opportunities for minsitry await.

  9. Celeste

    Love British telly. Currently watching Midsommer Murders. Gotta love the Barnaby’s.

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh, thanks Celeste. Maybe we’ll get to watch some of these shows together one day (she says with her fingers crossed).

  10. Brianna Wasson

    Hi friend! I love that you can watch British television! How fun is that? Seriously. I too am anxiously awaiting your move to London (so I can live vicariously through you, of course). 😉 Downton is my favorite. My husband likes Sherlock, too. But he’s long been a huge Dr. Who fan, which I have resisted for every moment of our 18 years of marriage until recently. And now, well, I actually like it too. (And I’m even admitting it, which thrills my man.) Thanks for the fun rundown of British television.

    • Shelly Miller

      My daughter loves Dr. Who but I can’t get into it. Sci-fi just isn’t my thing. Are you going to Allume? Can’t believe its already been a year since we roomed together.

      • Brianna Wasson

        I know! I’ve never been a sci-fi fan until this. And now it’s even hard for me to admit that I like it. 😉 Yes, I actually am going back this year. I’ll miss you.

        • shelly

          I’ll be there! Look forward to seeing you.

  11. Lynn Morrissey

    Oh British entertainment. What is there about it, Shelly? Just so classy. We are Downton diehards over here in St. Louis, and we’ve had the privilege of actually visiting Highclere Castle. I’m sure that must be on your list of great places to see when you live in England. It is a stellar house, along with Chattsworth, where parts of the British Austen film, Pride and Prejudice, was filmed. It’s stunning–actually both the flim and the house. I would add to your list and Christin’s the various documentaries (we’re watching one now on Scottish castles), and also various flicks or mini dramas. I loved Sense and Sensibility (starring Emma Thompson) and Jane Eyre (there were several BBC versions of that, but loved the one with Timothy Dalton. It was made awhile ago. We are Paradise fans, too, but I hadn’t realized that the plot is not resolved. I knew they had stopped filming, so presumed that they just came to some kind of ending. So sad. It’s a beautifully crafted series. I personally don’t like Selfride, and find it a bit on the smutty side. That’s what I loved about Paradise–similar plot lines in a big department store, but sans the sensationalism. We’re eager for Downton to begin again (in the STates) and will host a Downton Dress-Up Dinner on January 4th for its launch. And just think: Soon you will be right there where all this richness abounds. Wow!! so wonderful. I continue to pray that God would orchestrate every detail for you.
    Sending so much love and a heart cheerio!

    • Shelly Miller

      We’re seeing so many commercials of other series that look so good Lynn. Can’t wait to see them when we finally land.

  12. Nancy Ruegg

    I see your sense of humor is as strong as ever, Shelly, even during the strain of wait time. Thank you for all these wonderful recommendations. When I’m in the mood for some civilized TV, I’ll access these!

    • Shelly Miller

      It’s amazing how the silly can come out amidst all the other emotions Nancy but it tells me deep down inside, I’m still my true self. Don’t know if that sounds strange but isolation makes you feel a bit like you’ve lost yourself.

      • Nancy Ruegg

        Oh, yes, I totally relate. When we’ve moved from one church to another (Steve was a pastor for 40 years), that sense of isolation in a new community did make me feel lost!

  13. Glenda Childers

    We love Foyle’s War. And when you are in London, you can watch Miranda (so funny) and The Great British Bakeoff.


    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks Glenda, I love Miranda in Call the Midwife and heard she is quite popular in the UK for being humorous.

  14. Glenda Childers

    ps. And Cranford.

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