I'm an American and I saw this series online initially due to my fangirl crush on the oh so cute Samuel Barnett (Millais). I enjoyed it so much I purchased the DVD through Amazon uk and a region free DVD player so that I could watch it in the US. I love period pieces, and the Victorian era. This lively rendition did not disappoint! It has great wit and flare as well as wonderful performances (especially Tom Hollander and Sam Barnett). I know several reviewers have decried the historical inaccuracies (for example - Millais' Bubbles was painted decades after the time frame covered in the movie as the boy depicted was his grandson) but most dramatizations of real people's lives take a great deal of artistic license (A Brilliant Mind comes to mind as a gross whitewash of the life and personality of the mathematician John Nash - and he's still alive!). I was actually very impressed with the amount of historical tidbits they retained. For example, I recognized some of the dialogue from the real letters of these figures (Millais did actually say that Ruskin was a "quiet scoundrel who should be ducked in a millpond"). I was also impressed with the delicacy in which they handled the portrayal of the art critic/Victorian sage John Ruskin. Ruskin, like Lewis Carroll, was likely a pedophile (though there is no evidence to suggest he acted on these feelings). Tom Hollander's performance was wonderfully dignified.
I'm sure the BBC is running out of period literature to dramatize and honestly, some of the recent stuff like A Room with A View has been dreadful. I hope DR starts a trend of new BBC period pieces that are not dependent on novels. I've already watched this series for the umpteenth time and can't wait for more! Also, please cast Samuel Barnett - such a charismatic actor should not be so painfully underutilized.