Entertainment

The Best British Biography Series Ever  

Ranker TV
166 votes 35 voters 1.7k views 26 items

List Rules Vote up the best British biographies that have aired on television.

British biographies and biographical shows get to revel in their rich history (and include a lot more royalty than American biopic shows). The best British biography TV shows aren't necessarily about lauded English folks - they also include other famous Europeans and even Americans. If you’ve been looking for the best biographical dramas and documentaries from England, this list of the best British biography series of all time will help you figure out what needs to go into your queue and what older shows you might need to hunt down and watch immediately.

When it comes to the famous folks in British biography television dramas, it includes everyone from queens (Victoria) and politicians (Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years) to the writer who brought the world one of the most enduring film characters (Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond). But it's not all British biographical dramas, there are great documentary biography series as well, including This Is Your Life and Piers Morgan's Life Stories.

Which British shows tell someone's tale the best? Vote up the best British biographies, then vote down the shows that don't even garner a chuckle, and add any biography series from England that are missing.

list ordered by
1
Victoria is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Jenna Coleman, Tom Hughes, Peter Bowles
Victoria (ITV, 2016) is a drama television series created by Daisy Goodwin. The show depicts first few years of the reign of Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman), from her accession to the throne at ...more
2
Mrs Wilson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Ruth Wilson, Iain Glen, Keeley Hawes
Mrs Wilson (BBC One, 2018), is a British television drama starring and executive produced by Ruth Wilson, who plays the role of her real-life grandmother. In 1963, Alison Wilson's happy home ...more
3
The Brontes of Haworth is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
The Brontes of Haworth Michael Kitchen, Alfred Burke, Barbara Leigh-Hunt
An accurate and detailed film version of the Brontë family story.
4
The Flame Trees of Thika is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Hayley Mills, Ben Cross, Sharon Maughan
The Flame Trees of Thika is a British television serial of seven 50-minute episodes made by Euston Films for Thames Television in 1981. It was adapted by John Hawkesworth from the 1959 book of ...more
5
Elizabeth R is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Glenda Jackson, Robert Hardy, John Shrapnel
Elizabeth R is a BBC television drama serial of six 85-minute plays starring Glenda Jackson in the title role. It was first broadcast on BBC2 from February to March 1971, through the Australian ...more
6
Winston Churchill: The Wildern... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years Robert Hardy, Tim Pigott-Smith, Nigel Havers
Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years is an 8-part 1981 drama serial based on the life of Winston Churchill, and particularly his years in enforced exile from political position during the ...more
7
Fleming: The Man Who Would Be ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond
Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond is an upcoming miniseries, to be broadcast on 29 January 2014 in four instalments. Actor Dominic Cooper stars as Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, while ...more
8
This Is Your Life is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Michael Aspel, Eamonn Andrews
This is Your Life is a British biographical television documentary, based on the 1952 American show of the same name. It was hosted by Eamonn Andrews from 1955 until 1964, and then from 1969 ...more
9
Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Tress MacNeille, Dean Jones, Kath Soucie
Beethoven is an animated sitcom, loosely based on the 1992 motion picture of the same name. The series was produced by Northern Lights Entertainment, Universal Animation Studios, and Universal ...more
10
Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchil... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill Lee Remick, Barbara Parkins, Warren Clarke
Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill is a TV program.
11
I Remember Nelson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Geraldine James, Kenneth Colley
I Remember Nelson is a UK's adventure biography drama TV series.
12
Napoleon and Love is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Napoleon and Love Tim Curry, Ian Holm, Billie Whitelaw
Napoleon and Love was a 1974 British television series originally aired on ITV and lasting for 9 episodes from 5 March to 30 April 1974. The series starred Ian Holm in the title role as Napoleon ...more
13
The Life and Times of David Ll... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Philip Madoc, Rachel Thomas
The Life and Times of David Lloyd George is a BBC Wales drama serial broadcast in 1981 on the BBC1 network and which starred Philip Madoc, Lisabeth Miles, Kika Markham and David Markham. It ...more
14
Disraeli is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Disraeli Ian McShane, Patricia Hodge, David de Keyser
Disraeli is a British four-part serial about the great statesman and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Benjamin Disraeli. It was originally featured on British network ITV. With a screenplay ...more
15
Oppenheimer is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Oppenheimer Sam Waterston, David Suchet, Barry Dennen
Oppenheimer is a television miniseries about J. Robert Oppenheimer, produced by the BBC. It was broadcast in the United Kingdom on 29 October 1980 and in the United States on 11 May 1982. The ...more
16
Nancy Astor is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Nancy Astor Lisa Harrow, Lise Hilboldt, James Fox
Nancy Astor (1982) is a British biographical television drama. The story follows Virginia-born Lady Astor (Lisa Harrow), the first woman to sit in Parliament. Her outspokenness in unpopular ...more
17
Dickens Of London is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Dickens Of London Ben Kingsley, Patsy Kensit, John Slater
Dickens of London is a 1976 television miniseries from Yorkshire Television based on the life of English novelist Charles Dickens. Both Dickens and his father John were played by British actor ...more
18
The First Churchills is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Susan Hampshire, John Neville, John Standing
The First Churchills was a BBC serial from 1969 about the life of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and his wife, Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. It starred John Neville as the ...more
19
Lillie is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Francesca Annis, Peter Egan, Anton Rodgers
Lillie is a British television serial made by London Weekend Television for ITV and broadcast in 1978. This period serial starred Francesca Annis in the title role of Lillie Langtry. She had ...more
20
Piers Morgan's Life Stories is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Piers Morgan, Graham Norton, Sarah Harding
Piers Morgan's Life Stories, also known as Life Stories, is a British television chat show on ITV, presented by journalist Piers Morgan. Recorded in front of a studio audience, each programme is ...more
21
Fear and Loathing in Gonzovisi... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Fear and Loathing in Gonzovision
Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood, also known as Fear and Loathing in Gonzovision, is a documentary film produced by BBC Omnibus in 1978 on the subject of Hunter S. Thompson, directed ...more
22
Lucan is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Lucan Stockard Channing, Ned Beatty, John Randolph
Lucan is a TV drama which aired on ABC from 1977 to 1978, starring Kevin Brophy, John Randolph, Stockard Channing and Don Gordon. A 20-year old man who spent the first 10 years of his life ...more
23
Freud is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Freud
Freud, also known as Freud: the Life of a Dream, is a BBC television serial based on the life and times of Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. David Suchet stars as Freud. The 6-part ...more
24
The Caesars is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
The Caesars Freddie Jones, André Morell, Caroline Blakiston
The Caesars is a British television series produced by Granada Television for the ITV network in 1968. Made in black-and-white and written and produced by Philip Mackie, it covered similar ...more
25
Oscar is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best British Biography Series Ever
Oscar Michael Gambon, Norman Rodway, Bryan Murray
Oscar is a British TV serial first transmitted by BBC 2 in March 1985. Michael Gambon portrayed Oscar Wilde while other actors included Robin Lermitte as Lord Alfred Douglas, Tim Hardy as Alfred ...more