By Jess Bellville
Leave it to the British to stage a madcap murder mystery that makes you laugh. Out loud. At MURDER. But they’re equally adept at crafting moody, mind-bending murder mystery programs that make you gasp. That make it hard to sleep at night.
One common thread? British murder mysteries always seem to unfold in remote towns on the edge of the sea in which the population is less than 1,000.
I have a confession: I’m an Anglophile. My heart is shrouded in the Union Jack, and the characters that appear in my dreams have a variety of northern, southern, sideways, London accents, with a sprinkling of Scottish, Irish and Welsh for good measure.
Needless to say, I’m a great fan of the British programming we showcase on TPT: For an hour here and there, I can lounge on my very American sofa and imagine that I’ve fallen through space and time to fair England. Where it’s always a little misty, even on sunny days. Where serious human dramas unfold in manors, palaces, old-world slums, and perfectly decrepit cottages. Where even a stale slice of bread looks appetizing.
In my humble opinion, April and November in Minnesota most resemble the weather in England. So it’s the perfect time to tune in for some spectacularly British premieres and to stream a few gems from the archive.
From one Anglophile to the other, here are my picks for the month:
To Walk Invisible: The Brontë Sisters
When you think of English literature, chances are the “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights” near the top of your list. They’ve got it all: moors, madness, mighty seduction concealed behind a veneer of shyness, social awkwardness, and very high collars. Last Sunday, Masterpiece premiered a new film about the Brontë sisters’ transformation from caretakers to their widowed father and alcoholic brother to literary geniuses who sparked scandal and appreciation for their work. To Walk Invisible streams for a limited time, so don’t miss it. WATCH NOW
Call the Midwife
When we open on season six of Call the Midwife, the roaring sixties are in full swing – which means increased liberation for women, the advent of birth control, and the introduction of new government policies. As the midwives strive to help mothers and families cope with the demands of childbearing, disability, disease, and social prejudice, the Poplar medics must make choices – and fight battles – of their own. Plus tensions flare up at Nonnatus House like never before. STREAM EPISODE 1
TPT 2 Sundays at 7 p.m.
Home Fires on Masterpiece
World War II allowed women left behind on the homefront to flex their muscles in new ways – and the characters of Home Fires are fantastic examples of that social change. At the end of season one, the women’s league managed to convince villagers that their beloved football field should be turned into a garden to support the war effort. No doubt season two – which is sadly the final season – will bring a slew of new battles to be won at home. STREAM EPISODE 1
TPT 2 Sundays at 8 p.m.
Wolf Hall on Masterpiece
In English history, few monarchs are as infamous in the modern imagination as King Henry VIII – and the soon-to-be trilogy penned by Hilary Mantel focuses on one of the king’s primary confidants and conspirators: Thomas Cromwell. With humble beginnings, Cromwell gains Henry’s favor and swiftly rises through the ranks of his closest advisors, eventually orchestrating Henry’s divorce from his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, so that he can marry Anne Boleyn – which leads to England’s break from Rome and the creation of the Church of England. STREAM EPISODE 1
TPT 2 Sundays at 9 p.m
Another confession: I would rather clean the basement than bake. But I simply can’t get enough of The Great British Baking Show. Each episode brings the same suspense as a great British murder mystery. And the Masterclass series offers a look back at past seasons, as well as expert tutorials from Paul and Mary. So if you’ve ever wanted to make perfectly British biscuits (a.k.a. crackers), loafs, cakes, pies, and something called a Frangipane tart, then Paul and Mary will guide you to pastry perfection. Before the final season airs this June, you can catch up on all the Masterclass episodes on TPT Passport.
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