From recent releases to enduring classics, here are 11 of our favourite TV adaptations on DVD.
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BBC One’s sumptuous adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s Booker Prize-winning novel is an intricately woven, suspenseful tale of star-crossed love, murder, manipulation and revenge. At the height of the 1860s Gold Rush, Anna Wetherell (Eve Hewson) has travelled to the wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island to forge a new life. At the end of her long sea voyage, she encounters natural charmer Emery Staines (Himesh Patel), but in the New World their hopes for romance are dashed by scheming fortune-teller and brothel-keeper Lydia Wells (Eva Green).
“A soulful history packed with incident, plot and magic… Greed has rarely looked so good.” ★★★★ Independent
The first full season of HBO’s critically acclaimed drama based on Elena Ferrante’s bestselling Neapolitan novels. When Lila Cerullo, the most important friend in her life, disappears without trace, Elena Greco reflects back on her life and begins to tell the story of their friendship. Raw newcomers Ludovica Nasti and Elisa del Genio are electrifying as young Lila and Elena.
“It is a period piece, but it is timeless, and it is a more honest and vivid portrait of the lives of young girls than I can recall seeing on TV.” ★★★★ Guardian
Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis and Claire Foy lead the all-star cast of the BBC’s masterful adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s epic Booker-winning novels about the spectacular rise and bloody downfall of Thomas Cromwell. An irresistible depiction of political machinations and shifting allegiances in the court of Henry VIII.
“Subtle, brutal, elegant -- simply brilliant television.” ★★★★★ Independent
A double bill of the classic BAFTA-winning BBC espionage drama based on the novels by John Le Carré starring Alec Guinness as master spy George Smiley, who is summoned back to the 'circus' of the British secret service when an enemy infiltrator is discovered, to take on some familiar Soviet adversaries.
“One of the greatest performances ever seen on the small screen.” Guardian
The prolific Andrew Davies adapts Charles Dickens’ classic tale of hardship and struggle in 1820s London. The Dorrit family has spent years in a debtors' prison due to the financial mess father William (Tom Courtenay) landed himself in as a youth. Youngest daughter Amy (Claire Foy), known as Little Dorrit, finds work with the wealthy Mrs Clenham (Judy Parfitt) whose son Arthur (Matthew Macfadyen) comes to suspect that his late father may have been responsible for the Dorrits’ plight. Andy Serkis, Amanda Redman, Russell Tovey and Maxine Peake also star.
“As rich at the margins as at the centre with strange, and strangely believable, characters from almost all levels of society, rendered in quick, firm strokes.” The New York Times
The BBC’s lavish adaptation of the Victor Hugo classic, written by Andrew Davies. As the French Revolution erupts on the streets of Paris, ex-convict Jean Valjean (Dominic West) attempts to atone for his past life, pursued by former prison guard Javert (David Oyelowo). Lily Collins plays tragic seamstress Fantine, while Olivia Colman and Adeel Akhtar give memorable turns as the treacherous, scheming Thénardiers.
“An engrossing treat, featuring a vibrant cast and taking its time to unspool the melodrama and offer loving looks at 19th-century France.” IndieWire
Suranne Jones is magnificent as swashbuckling 19th-century landowner and industrialist Anne Lister, who walks like a man and charms her way into high society whilst pursuing an unconventional, not entirely secret love life. This perky, pioneering period LBGQT drama is based on Anne Lister’s collected diaries, adapted by Sally Wainwright, and also stars Sophie Rundle, Timothy West, Gemma Jones and Gemma Whelan.
“A true TV marvel – romantic, raw and totally radical.” Guardian
Andrew Davies’ sweeping adaptation of the Tolstoy classic sees Paul Dano as idealistic Pierre, James Norton as ambitious Andrei and Lily James as spirited Natasha, who each seek love and meaning in superficial high society as the Napoleonic War and revolution threaten to alter Russia forever. Greta Scacchi, Jim Broadbent, Rebecca Front, Gillian Anderson, Tuppence Middleton and many more big-hitters add support.
“I can't remember the last time I was so seduced by the storytelling or sublime visual power of a TV drama.” Telegraph
With an eleventh series set to air on ITV in 2021, catch up with every episode so far as the brilliant Brenda Blethyn inhabits Ann Cleeves’ obsessive, determined and dishevelled DCI Vera Stanhope as she goes about solving crime after crime in the atmospheric landscapes of the breathtaking Northumberland countryside.
“Not many actors can pull off shambolic and effective, but Blethyn can do it with a single, penetrating glance from beneath that hat.” Guardian
Tom Burke stars as war veteran turned private detective Cormoran Strike, and Holliday Grainger as his sidekick Robin in these entertaining BBC adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s meticulously plotted crime novels The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silk Worm and Career of Evil (under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith). Their adventures continue with series 4: Lethal White this autumn.
“An entertaining stagger through the seedy world of dodgy contacts, dark pool halls, greasy caffs, family dysfunctionality and hairs of the dog.” The Times
Based on Alex Haley’s bestselling 1976 novelisation of his family’s African origins, Roots: The Complete Collection brings together for the first time all the original episodes, sequels and extras of the award-winning series in one box set. A perfect counterpoint to the disjointed yet widely acclaimed 2016 remake.
“The original 1977 miniseries broke viewership records, prompted a national conversation about race and set a new bar for television success.” Time
Watch the original promotion, broadcast in 1977: