While it's not the Queen's actual birthday (which is 21 April), we celebrate our Monarch's birthday every year in June with a public holiday marked for the second Monday in June. We've been doing it since 1936 to celebrate the birthday of King George V.
A relatively new tradition, however, is spending your long weekend on the couch bingeing on all of the great movies and TV on SBS On Demand. But, where to begin?
We've put together a list of some of the Best of British dramas currently available to stream on SBS On Demand. Tally ho!
Life Of Crime
Hayley Atwell stars as a London police officer trying to solve a murder over three decades. In addition to the present day investigation, the show sets previous glimpses at the investigation against the backdrop of London’s Brixton Riots in 1985 and 1997s death of Princess Diana.
With the series told from a woman's perspective across three decades, the show also explores the shift in attitudes and societal norms throughout each of the eras. The series begins with a "policing's no job for a woman" attitude surrounding Atwell's 'Denise Wood', evolving with the times to a position of her eventually being criticised for prioritising work over family. This is a textured murder-mystery series that packs an emotional wallop.
Following the 2003 invasion of Basra, three British Army soldiers return to the Iraqi city, each with their own reasons reasons: love, money, and an effort to rebuild the country by promoting war. Leading the BBC production is James Nesbitt, Stephen Graham, and Warren Brown.
Critics were rapt with the series, with several publications commenting that it's the first drama about the Iraq war that felt like it got it right. In a review for The LA Times, Mary McNamara wrote: "These are not stories with happy endings, but Occupation is unexpectedly uplifting in its bravery and humanity. Nesbitt, Graham and Brown brilliantly take their characters to hell and back without losing the slender but undeniable essence of who each man is. Watching Occupation, it's not surprising that so many veterans, of Iraq and all wars, are unable to resume their "normal" lives. It's surprising that any of them do."
Tipping The Velvet
This period drama series is based on the Sarah Waters novel of the same name. The British series, which is set in the glamorous world of a 19th century music hall, is about a love affair between two female performers who must keep their off-stage relationship a secret. When that relationship falls apart, Nan (Rachael Stirling), is forced onto the streets to survive.
The series writer Andrew Davies (best known for writing the original UK series of House of Cards), described Tipping The Velvet as “Pride and Prejudice with dirty bits”.
Inspired by China's 'One Child' policy, this drama series is about a young woman in the UK named Mei who receives a message from a journalist in China who reveals that not only does her birth mother want to meet her, but also that she needs Mei's help to save a brother that Mei has never met. Mei's brother is currently on death row for a crime he didn't commit.
Mei agrees to take the journey to China, alone, to finally meet her lost family.
Sunshine on Leith
You will walk 500 miles with a spring in your step after watching this musical featuring music by The Proclaimers. The film is based on the successful stage show of the same name and is about two returned servicemen who are home in Edinburgh after serving in Afghanistan. Both men need to adapt to regular life again outside of the army, confronted with the everyday struggles associated with jobs, family, and loved ones.
The film marks the second film as director by actor Dexter Fletcher, still probably best known for playing Spike in the TV series Press Gang.
Ben Wheatley directed this horror comedy about a road trip gone wrong when a couple use their trip as an opportunity to indulge in a murder spree. It's an unusual film, led by a couple who SBS film critic Lynden Barber suggested wouldn't be out of place in a Mike Leigh movie.
In Fiona Williams review of An Education for SBS, she plucked out one of the themes of An Education: "When something seems too good to be true, it probably is." And yet, this doesn't apply to the dazzlingly charming An Education. A star turn for Carey Mulligan, the film feels almost effortless in telling the story of a young British girl who falls for an older man with a heartbreaking secret. A perfect film to rug up under a blanket to enjoy.
Enjoy the extensive library of films and TV shows from Britain and elsewhere on SBS On Demand this long weekend.