Frugal Kiwi, Melanie McMinnNote from Jane: Hop over and visit contributor Melanie McMinn’s gorgeous site, The Frugal Kiwi.

Cranford and Return to CranfordDownton Abbey, how we miss it! But you don’t have to go without great costume dramas while you wait for more. Here are a five posh picks to keep you going until you get your next Downton Abbey fix.

1. Gosford Park. Set in an English country house in 1932, this Oscar-winning flick was written by the same writer as Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, and directed by Hollywood legend Robert Altman. The cast list reads like a Who’s Who of the British Silver Screen with Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Jeremy Northam, Clive Owen, Derek Jacobi, Stephen Fry and Richard E. Grant, just to name a few! Downton Abbey fans will recognize cast from both above and below stairs. Note that mulit-talented Jeremy Northam does all his own singing and piano playing in the role of real-life movie star Ivor Novello. Fans of [amazon_link id=”B003Y5HWK4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Boardwalk Empire[/amazon_link] should recognize a prominent cast member from that series, as well.

2. [amazon_link id=”B000PC6YUI” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The House of Eliott[/amazon_link]. Gently-bred Beatrice and Eveline Eliott are left nearly destitute at their father’s death in 1920. With little education and an uncle given control of what little money they DO have, these two sisters struggle to make a life for themselves as dressmakers and eventually fashion designers in a world where women of their station are not meant to work or have any say over their own lives. Gorgeous fashions of the 20s and social issues along with the usual romances and excitements thread through three seasons of this BBC drama.

3. An Ideal Husband. Filled with the shining wit of Oscar Wilde, [amazon_link id=”6305692696″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]An Ideal Husband[/amazon_link] is both comedy and drama. Starring Rupert Everett, Jeremy Northam, Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore and Minnie Driver, you’ll enjoy the snappy banter, the gorgeous costuming, and even the political commentary. Remember “Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear. Other people are quite dreadful. The only possible society is oneself.” Now I have an excuse for the fantastically odd shoes I’m wearing. Fashion!

4. [amazon_link id=”B002XTBECY” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Cranford and The Return to Cranford[/amazon_link]. Another gentle set of dramas with a stellar English cast, including Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins and Imelda Stanton. We’re all used to seeing Dame Judi play strong and independent women. You won’t get ANY of that here. The Cranford stories based on the Elizabeth Gaskell novels are delightful, but they would be worth watching if for no other reason but to see Dame Judi play a fluffy-headed woman. Must-see!

5. North & South. This BBC mini-series is also based on an Elizabeth Gaskell novel. The love story of a middle-class Southern woman Margaret Hale who’s forced to move to a Northern town. I’ve got to admit something here. I enjoyed this series well enough, but I’m primarily including it because — and I think most of you ladies will agree — that you’d like to eat the leading man, Richard Armitage, up with a spoon. There I said it. Watch this for the story, yeah, sure, whatever, OR for Richard Armitage who you may also have seen as Lucas North in season nine of MI-5 (a.k.a. Spooks) or in the TV series Robin Hood as Guy of Gisborne. He’s currently filming The Hobbit here in New Zealand, playing Thorin Oakenshield. It’s a CRIME to put dwarf make-up on that face, I tell you, a CRIME!



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