19 Fantastic British Sci-Fi Series You Can Binge Right Now

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Eddie Marsden and Bertie Carvel in “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell”. (Photo: BBC)

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Based on the extremely popular novel by Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is set in an alternate history of 19th century England. It’s based on the idea that magic once existed in the land but vanished 300 years ago. It has now returned with two men: Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange. Norrell is a powerful magician from the North, who can conjure amazing things and wants to see magic restored to its proper place in England. However, he has a rather limited view of what magic is and can do – one which is challenged by Strange, an unschooled natural talent who becomes Norrell’s student and a great magician.

This is a story of how magic reenters the world, yes. But it’s also a story about the politics of magic, and the tensions between two very different ideologies surrounding it. It is also, at its heart, the story of the prickly friendship between Strange and Norrell. Stars Eddie Marsden and Bertie Carvel have wonderful chemistry together and watching them act together is a real treat.

Clarke’s original novel clocks in at nearly 900 pages, so that’s a lot of material to fit into one seven-part miniseries. But the BBC makes a valiant effort here and certainly gets a lot of the tone of the original right. And in some ways, the show streamlines a few of the more convoluted plots in Clarke’s work, and makes the story more accessible to the average viewer. (That said, if you like this series at all? Read the book. It’s better. For the footnotes alone.)

Number of Seasons: 1

Where to Watch: Netflix