Last night, one of Great Britain's best shows returned to our screens attracting an average of 9.3 million viewers. The show before it, The X Factor, still topped the evening however with 9.7 million. Admittedly it's fairly obvious that more people would tune into the talent show over Julian Fellowes' masterful Downton Abbey seeing as it's appeals to a wider audience as well as airing before the watershed but that's beside the point of this article. Even with a figure as impressive as 9.3 million, so many still believe period dramas are boring and they couldn't be further from the truth.
Currently some of the finest shows on television fall into the period drama bracket - they may not all be about aristocrats, lords and dukes, but they still present audiences with a visual representation of a past era. These shows include:
And of course Downton. All of these shows offer as much tension, drama, suspense, sex and scandal as any other major television drama but because the casts are often draped in older fashion or aren't constantly tweeting each other on their iPhones, it's not 'interesting' enough. Even a show like Game of Thrones could be considered a period piece in some respects and that's more grisly and depraved than some pornography.
What period dramas do better than any other television show genre is bring an element of sheer cinematic grace to the small screen. They are lavish, sumptuous entertainment; shows that have been handled and crafted with true artistry and beauty. Often their running times mirror a 90 minute feature film too which only emphasises this point.
Yes sometimes the dramatic dialogue changes can take some getting used to as well as the era in which the show is set but that isn't enough to be a prude and think it's uninteresting. Last night's Downton was simply riveting, engrossing drama littered with humour and fantastic performances - everything you could possibly want from a Sunday evening television show.
It's difficult to covert someone into liking period dramas because for many they are like Marmite but if you haven't watched any of the shows above, do yourself a favour and try. I'm certain you won't regret it.