The BBC in recent years broadcast series including Bleak House, Cranford, Sense and Sensibility and Jane Eyre.
TheBBC have recently decided to focus on more 20th century historical dramas such as The Diary of Anne Frank and the dramatisation of John Buchan spy novel The 39 Steps
This was due to the ratings dipping for the BBC1's most recent costume drama, Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit, which sank to a low of 2.5 million viewers for one midweek episode last month. By comparison, The Diary of Anne Frank pulled in about 4.5 million viewers, while The 39 Steps, starring former Spooks actor Rupert Penry-Jones, attracted 7.3 million.
When you go on to analyse period drama you need to deconstruct not only the representations on screen but going further to consider how these represent contemporary points of view.
A period drama needs to ‘contemporary impact’. This is achieved by the following:
To reproduce a period drama but looking at a different aspect of the story or character to make connections with the modern time. For example Elizabeth I was adapted and focused on her private and public lives.
Another is to foreground a writers specific interpretation, which tends to cause a great deal of controversy between the writer and historians although on a positive this tends to lead to good publicity for the programme.
Another strategy is to appeal to International audiences. This is fairly easy to do since British History and heritage is of great interest to the world wide.