The Romantics BBC documentary: A Review

I have just finished watching the three-part BBC series ‘The Romantics’, and feel the need to share it with my followers! Considering the areas of Nature, Liberty and Eternity, Peter Ackroyd summons the ghosts of the movement and dramatises Keats, Bryon, the Shelleys, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake and Clare in this highly informative documentary. Ackroyd explores the legacy of the Romantics in a socio-political context providing a wealth of information relating to religion, imagination, the natural world, the sublime, secular idolatry and the phenomenal ingenuity unveiled by such an influential literary movement. There are also relevant injections of historical context on the Industrial Revolution and the French and American Revolutions, along with appearances from Rousseau, Diderot, Paine et al.

This is a must watch documentary for people who:

  • are seeking a fulfilling mode of procrastination
  • are interested in revolution across America and Europe
  • enjoy Romantic poetry but know little about the context of the works
  • are studying the Romantic movement
  • would like to confront their mind with radical opinions
  • wish to change or explore their perception of the world in which we live
  • are seeking inspiration from our surroundings and the great poets before us
  • generally enjoy poetry and English literature!

I’m not sure which order the episodes are meant to be viewed in, but it didn’t seem to matter much. I found the information relating to Blake and industry particularly interesting, and the dramatisations of Clare, Shelley and Coleridge’s respective descents into madness were similarly insightful. My only major criticism is that Keats is not mentioned at all until the ‘Eternity’ episode, and even then the focus is mainly on his death and subsequent posthumous influence.

Episode 1: Nature

Episode 2: Liberty

Episode 3: Eternity



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