The Coming of the Martians: Looking Forward to Peter Harness’ The War of the Worlds

On its way is a new three-part BBC version of The War of the Worlds, from Peter Harness, a name familiar to Doctor Who fans as the writer of Kill the Moon, The Zygon Invasion/ The Zygon Inversion, and The Pyramid at the End of the World.

Some of us are familiar with Steven Spielberg’s 2005 version of H G Wells’ classic novel; some with George Pal’s from 1953, the latter spawning an ’80s sequel series. There have been a slew of less well-known adaptations, most of which (including Spielberg’s and Pal’s) played around with the source material. Some consider Jeff Wayne’s musical version the most faithful. For others, the original book itself cannot be surpassed.

Harness says:

“The version of The War of the Worlds that I wanted to make is one that’s faithful to the tone and the spirit of the book, but which also feels contemporary, surprising and full of shocks.”

But with Eleanor Tomlinson and Rafe Spall playing new characters George and Amy as an Edwardian couple who are struggling in their own lives while having to handle an alien invasion, it sounds that once again we are being given another variation on Wells’ original themes.

One of the plot threads that always draws me in to this story is the terrifying notion of having the ones closest to you taken away, leaving you desperate and helpless. It makes for incredibly moving drama and I hope Harness still has that in his script, despite the possibility that this won’t be solely the Journalist’s story.

Harness was originally linked to the project in 2015, but the BBC officially green-lit the show in 2017, after Wells’ work entered into the public domain (meaning it’s now free to adapt).

Spall is no stranger to the genre, with roles in Men In Black: International (coming later this year) and Prometheus, while Tomlinson was Demelza in Poldark and appeared in Ordeal By Innocence (an adaptation of Agatha’s Christie’s book), both for the BBC. Eleanor was also in The Sarah Jane Adventures, painted a fetching red. Veteran actor, Robert Carlyle also appears as Ogilvy in War of the Worlds.

Directed by Craig Viveiros, The War of the Worlds is coming very soon to BBC1.