From The Telegraph:
21. Roots (1977, ABC)
The TV adaptation of Alex Haley’s novel came so swiftly after the book’s publication that the two fused together in one fearsome campaign. The harrowing tale of Kunta Kinte, an 18th-century African sold into American slavery, has an epic, cinematic quality, a terrific eye for detail, and a campaigning spirit that hits you in the gut.
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17. Parade’s End (2012, BBC)
Tom Stoppard’s adaptation didn’t bother trying to re-invent Ford Madox Ford’s fiercely modernist war-time tetralogy as a populist hit. Instead Stoppard and director Susanna White – who had worked with David Simon on The Wire – went with the spirit of post-cable television and asked the audience to join one or two more dots than they were used to joining. Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall have never been better and at a time when the nation was ensnared in Downton fever, this was the perfect highbrow rejoinder.
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13. Lonesome Dove (1989, CBS)
This adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s 1985 novel about two retired Texas rangers who set out on a cattle drive across the Great Plains was one of the first to show that television could succeed where film could not. Originally developed as an idea for a Seventies film with John Wayne, James Stewart and Henry Fonda, the screenplay became a novel which became a hugely successful four-part miniseries, starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, which won seven Emmys.
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10. Wolf Hall (2015, BBC)
The historical novels about Tudor England had already caused a sensation by winning two Booker prizes. But when Hilary Mantel’s masterworks Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies were adapted for the screen, meticulous authenticity and authoritative acting produced a second triumph. Our greatest stage actor, Mark Rylance, played the scheming Thomas Cromwell with a humanity so intense we were all on his side. Damien Lewis was a flawed yet terrifying king.
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7. The Jewel in the Crown (1984, ITV)
Three years after Brideshead Revisited, Granada blew their budget once more with this adaptation of Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet. Aside from wonderful production values, what makes this great is that actors such as Peggy Ashcroft, Tim Pigott-Smith and Art Malik flesh out their characters with a terrific psychological awareness, turning the dying days of Empire into a feverish world of paranoia and deceit.
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4. The Forsyte Saga (1967, ITV)
The first major costume drama on British television, this 26-part adaptation of John Galsworthy’s novels about an upper middle class London family was so popular that churches changed the time of evensong so that people could fit it in. It may move at too stately a pace for modern tastes but its clarification of Galsworthy’s turgid prose, in particular getting to the emotional core of the complex Soames (the superb Eric Porter), makes it compelling to this day.
Link to the rest at The Telegraph