In Britain, there are many Bank Holidays throughout the year, and 2023 has even more than most, what with the Coronation weekend making it 2 Bank Holiday weekends in a row. If you don’t have any plans to socialise, that potentially means a whole extra day at home to fill with activity.
With the weather as unpredictable as it can be in the first half of the year, this activity may be limited to scrolling through streaming services in search of something to watch. If you fall into this camp, we at Old Time Review are here for you!
We have compiled a list of 5 vintage treats you can stream this bank holiday weekend – 4 of which are even free to stream!
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
We can kick things off with a nice dose of whodunnit action, in the form of a series which began in 1985. Starring Jeremy Brett as the Victorian detective, the series ran for 41 episodes including 5 feature-length specials.
The first series starred David Burke as Dr John Watson, then the role was taken over by Edward Hardwicke for all subsequent seasons and specials.
This depiction of the world of Holmes and Watson aimed to be truer to the original text by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And, certainly in the earlier seasons, it delivers.
All 41 episodes are available to stream on ITVX for free.
The Golden Girls
Running for 7 seasons between 1985 and 1991, The Golden Girls is a sitcom which deals with the issues of aging, friendship, the evolution of relationships and many other important issues in between.
Starring Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, this vintage jewel is great for a binge. With episodes timing out at only 24 minutes apiece, it is easy to lose yourself in the world of Rose, Dorothy, Blanche and Sophia for hours.
You would be forgiven for thinking perhaps this is a cosy show with some ladies maybe past their prime. However, what The Golden Girls really is, is a show headed up by a cast who had so much experience that they were the absolute best people for such a job. So much so that it doesn’t matter what these four legends had done before: during those 24 minutes, we are completely immersed in the world of those four characters.
It is also still surprisingly relevant – and is not the only entry in this list to be so. The show dealt with so many human issues, many of them ahead of their time; themes that are still being discussed today.
The sunny Florida of The Golden Girls is well worth a visit. You can stream all episodes on Disney+.
Our Friends in the North
A change of pace once again here, but one that is very rewarding. If you enjoy sagas covering decades, following a group of characters, tracking how their stories separate and then converge through the years, this is a must-watch for you.
Our Friends in the North follows a friendship group from 1960s working class Newcastle. And although this one falls slightly outside of Old Time Review’s remit in terms of production date, the periods that the drama covers mostly fall between 1960 and 1985.
The 9 episodes follow the friendship group through a changing Britain, charting shifts in social attitudes and opportunities. The writing is superb and performances brilliant. The young main cast–who would all go on to become household names–make this drama incredibly compelling. With raw and grubby scenery alongside the picturesque industrial landscape, Our Friends in the North is a must-watch.
Along with the full series, there is also an introduction by Christopher Ecclestone available on BBC iPlayer.
Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In
This one is perhaps a curve-ball and very much able to be dismissed. But hear me out. In Britain it is unlikely that many people will be familiar with this American sketch comedy.
But if you haven’t dipped your toe into the crazy, off-beat, loud, fast-paced, hot-cut, psychedelic rainbow-coloured world of Laugh-In, then you are in for a treat. Be warned however, this is not one to watch idly. You need to dial fully in to this show. There are fast cuts, one-liners which weave throughout the show, a massive cast of talented comedic performers and writers, enormous and unexpected guests stars (read John Wayne, Sammy Davis Jr, and the list goes on and on) and two almost middle-aged hosts who should be completely out of place but somehow tie the whole thing together perfectly.
Laugh-In is not for the faint-hearted. I beg you though, don’t be deterred when you encounter racial and sexist jokes within the first few minutes. What you realise when you watch a whole episode…then another….then another…is that they were constantly lampooning the oppressors with this show. They pricked the balloon of sexism, racism, ageism and all forms of prejudiced pomposity with every single line and look.
This show–which admittedly looks on the surface like stoner heaven–is so clever and so worth a watch. And if you aren’t quoting “Heeeeeere’s Dicky!” when you’re finished, then you haven’t seen enough!
All 6 seasons of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In are available to stream for free on Plex.
Lastly, something which is, quite frankly, just a bit of British silliness. Made when Roger Moore was already a household name from his years as The Saint, and just before he became 007 for the first time, The Persuaders follows Lord Brett Sinclair (Moore) and American millionaire Danny Wilde (Tony Curtis) as they reluctantly team up to investigate injustice and intrigue.
With many episodes set in exotic places, and starring many well-known faces of British television, The Persuaders is simply that: a colourful, sunny, fun British caper which romps its way through 24 hour-long episodes.
Witty one-liners, screen punch-ups, sumptuous fashions in clothes and interior design, fast cars and classic Moore eyebrow raises abound here. What’s not to love on a lazy Bank Holiday?
All episodes of The Persuaders are now available to stream for free on ITVX.