Costume dramas have shaped television tastes of today through explosive stories of yesteryear. In 1978, Edward and Mrs. Simpson rankled royals, and 1971's Upstairs, Downstairs served up issues that resulted in a partial ban in the States. Brideshead Revisited and The Jewel in the Crown brought cinema-quality production to 1980s TV. The "bodice rippers" of the 1990s helped costume dramas shed their staid reputation as quickly as characters doffed their period garb. Colin Firth's wet-shirt scene in Pride and Prejudice and the romps of Moll Flanders epitomized a slew of saucy literary adaptations. Earlier dramas like Edward the King exposed royal infidelities. The pursuit of high production values drove costume dramas out of the studio and into real castles and countryside. Castle Howard attracted tourists after appearing in Brideshead Revisited, rugged Cornwall lent local color to action-packed Poldark, and a Lithuanian river became a Renaissance-era Thames for Helen Mirren's Elizabeth I (as interviewed in the series' 3rd episode).
Cast: Keeley Hawes (Narrator), Anthony Andrews, Tim Angel, Paul Annett, Christopher Biggins, Andrew Billen, Noel Butler, Robin Ellis, Kathryn Flett, Barbara Flynn, Michael Grade, Tom Hooper, Simon Howard, John Hurt, Derek Jacobi, Alex Kingston, Simon Langton, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Sharon Lovelock, Ray Marshall, Sharon Marshall, Hans Matheson, Helen Mirren, Bill Paterson, Anne Pivcevic, Angharad Rees, Nicky Shipman, Annie Symons, Deborah van der Beek, Charity Wakefield, Simon Williams, Simon Woods
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