Pack your bags and step back in time to the Roaring Twenties as Hotel Portofino opens its doors on ITV1, plus more great period dramas to enjoy
By Jon Billinge, Senior Staff Writer
Sumptuous period dramas are a dime a dozen these days (a phenomenon for which we’re eternally grateful, mind), but how many can call the idyllic Italian Riviera home?
Enter Hotel Portofino, the gorgeous new series starting on Friday 3 February at 9pm on ITV1 (CH 113), where stiff upper lips are soothed by negroni sbagliato, the air is tinged with notes of citrus and business is a decidedly relaxed affair.
But beyond the glitz and glam is a seemingly endless list of troubles for hotel matriarch Bella Ainsworth (Natascha McElhone, Designated Survivor). Notwithstanding the often uncompromising demands of her wealthy English clientele and family members, a local facist politician seems hellbent on ruining it for everyone. Typical!
The daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Bella spends her days managing the upkeep of her quintessentially British hotel, while catering for (and alternately kowtowing to) its haughty, hugely influential inhabitants, including the imperious Lady Latchmere (Anna Chancellor, Four Weddings And A Funeral).
Added to this is the duty of care to her son Lucian (Oliver Dench, Pandora), who was wounded in the First World War, and her widowed daughter (Olivia Morris, The Head). Far be it from husband (and professional cad) Cecil (Mark Umbers, Home Fires) – who’s busy propping up the aristocracy – to lend a hand, much less a shoulder to cry on.
But enough about the drama, we want to wax lyrical about the period! Snappy dressing, ornate wood panelling and stultifying British cordiality at every turn. It’s historical drama with a tan and we are here for it.
Before you check in, why not check out these other epic period dramas set during and around the same era.
Find seasons 1-6 in Apps & Games > Netflix
Arguably the series that springs to mind when thinking popular period drama, writer and creator Julian Fellowe’s Downton Abbey really is a drama delight to savour. It follows the life and times of the Crawley family on and beyond their sprawling estate, with high drama, romance and twists at every turn. It also boasts one of the greatest characters to have ever appeared onscreen in Maggie Smith’s acerbic Violet, ever ready with a withering jibe, quip or put-down.
Find series 1-4 in Apps & Games > ITVX
Taking place between 1908 and 1928, Mr. Selfridge tracks the business dealings of the eponymous retail magnate following his arrival from across the pond. Jeremy Piven is on fine form as the industry go-getter, while the sets and costumes are absolutely immaculate, from the era-accurate storefronts to the gold-plated pocketwatches.
Find series 1-6 in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer
Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and his brood are an altogether different kind of family in this brooding, epic and highly stylised crime drama. Set in 1920s Birmingham, it’s stiff drinks and switchblades over high teas and terse words.
Find seasons 1 & 2 in Apps & Games > Netflix
You think you’ve seen pomp, then you watch Bridgerton. A glorious OTT celebration, criticism and everything in between of Regency-era England, it blew the period drama doors off when it first landed in December 2020. With style and saucinesss in equal measure, you’ll be insatiably drawn into the mystery behind Lady Whistledown, an elusive writer with more than a thing or two to say about the blue-blooded Bridgertons and their equally high-born neighbours, the Featheringtons.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
Find series 1-3 in Catch Up > Channels > Drama
Based on Kerry Greenwood’s popular mystery book series, this Australia-set crime drama stands out from the crowd with its fantastic cast of characters, all clearly revelling in the series’ smokey, noirish setting. Phyrne Fisher (Essie Davis) is the titular private detective sniffing out crime in late 1920s Melbourne. If you’re one for all the trappings of the era, from philandering flappers to snub-nosed shooters, you’ll find much to love here.
Find seasons 1-5 in Apps & Games > Netflix
Another show offering something beyond the usual top-hat-and-coat-tails fare, Cable Girls is a Spanish drama focusing on the lives of four young women working at the country’s first national telephone company. Gifted a level of independence and a decent wage, the quartet nevertheless must navigate the harships faced by working women in 1920s Spain and the wider restrictions on the rights of women in a highly patriarchal society.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot
Find series 1-13 in Apps & Games > ITVX
Catch the man, the myth, the moustache in arguably his finest TV outing in this adapation of crime legend Agatha Christie’s famous book series. The impeccable David Suchet and a sprawling roster of stars bring Christie’s lovingly crafted mysteries to life over 13 fantastic series. An absolute treat for crime fans, period drama lovers and moustache admirers the world over.
Find it in Catch Up > Channels > Drama
Eight-part Second World War drama Atlantic Crossing explores how Norway’s Crown Princess Märtha, deftly played by The Bridge’s Sofia Helin, forever altered the dynamics of US politics in wartime. Having fleed to America to escape the Nazis, the princess slowly but surely convinces the President (Kyle MachLachan) to support Norway – a major first step in the US’s eventual involvement in the wider war. But her troubles are far from over, as a multitude of spies, politicians and even her closest allies seek to manipulate the situation.
When is Hotel Portofino on TV?
Hotel Portofino starts on Friday 3 February at 9pm on ITV1 (CH 113). The series will also be available for 30 days in Catch Up > Channels > ITVX.
Not sure how to access ITVX? Check out our guide here.
TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.
HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box or Virgin TV V6 connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.
Catch Up TV: Catch Up TV content available for up to 7 days or up to 30 days after broadcast, depending on content.
TV Go: Content available to view depends on TV package. Not all channels/content from relevant pack available. Live streaming and On Demand requires broadband/WiFi or 3G/4G/5G access. UK only. Access via PC, Mac or TV Go App (selected iOS devices and Android™ devices only). Maximum 5 compatible devices per account can watch TV. Maximum 2 compatible devices per account can watch TV simultaneously.