The War of the Worlds (British TV series)

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The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds British Title Card.png
Based onThe War of the Worlds
by H. G. Wells
Written byPeter Harness
Directed byCraig Viveiros
ComposerRuss Davies
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series1
No. of episodes3 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Damien Timmer
  • Preethi Mavahalli
  • Peter Harness
  • Craig Viveiros
  • Tommy Bulfin
  • Minglu Ma
  • Jamie Brown
ProducerBetsan Morris Evans
Production locationUnited Kingdom
CinematographyJames Friend
Production companies
DistributorITV Studios Global Entertainment
Original networkBBC One
Original release17 November (2019-11-17) –
1 December 2019 (2019-12-01)

The War of the Worlds is a 2019 three-part British miniseries drama produced by Mammoth Screen for the BBC and co-produced with Creasun Media and Red Square. The series is an Edwardian period adaptation of the H.G. Wells's 1898 science fiction novel of the same name, and is the first British television adaptation of Wells's Martian invasion novel. The War of the Worlds miniseries premiered in other countries before its UK broadcast on the BBC between 17 November and 1 December 2019.


Set in Edwardian England, the miniseries follows journalist George (Rafe Spall) and his live-in relationship Amy (Eleanor Tomlinson), who works as an assistant to local scientist Ogilvy (Robert Carlyle). They start a life together in the town of Woking in defiance of British society, due, as the viewer soon learns, George already being married (his wife is not willing to grant a divorce). They suddenly must face the escalating terror of an invasion of Britain, and possibly the whole planet Earth, from Mars, while also fighting for their very lives against an unstoppable enemy beyond humanity's comprehension.[1]



Recurring and guest[edit]

  • Charlie De'Ath as Greaves
  • Joey Batey as Henderson
  • Freya Allan as Mary
  • Daniel Cerqueira as Stent
  • Aisling Jarrett-Gavin as Lucy
  • Woody Norman as George Junior
  • Reid Anderson as Stall Holder


No.EpisodeDirected byWritten byOriginal UK air dateUK viewers
(millions) [2]
1Episode 1Craig ViveirosPeter Harness17 November 2019 (2019-11-17)6.92
2Episode 2Craig ViveirosPeter Harness24 November 2019 (2019-11-24)5.80
3Episode 3Craig ViveirosPeter Harness1 December 2019 (2019-12-01)5.49



The War of the Worlds was first announced in December 2015,[3] with the BBC confirming production of the series in May 2017.[4] The series is produced by Mammoth Screen for the BBC, co-produced with Creasun Media, in association with Red Square.[5]

Writer Peter Harness expanded the role of the narrator's wife, stating "I think the clearest choice that I made from the start of this project was to give the male character a wife who had strength of character in her own right [...] It was very important to me to make the female character three-dimensional".[6]

The series was directed by Craig Viveiros, produced by Betsan Morris Evans, executive produced by Damien Timmer, Preethi Mavahalli, Peter Harness and Viveiros from Mammoth Screen,[1] Tommy Bulfin from the BBC,[1] Minglu Ma from Creasun and Jamie Brown from Red Square.[7]

The interpretation makes use of time shifting forwards and backwards in the timeline in order to "throw in a clever touch of time-shifting into the narrative to upend audience expectations".[8]


Filming began April 2018 in Liverpool.[1] Locations include St George's Plateau, Eldon Grove, Vauxhall (where an abandoned building was used as a London location), Sir Thomas Street, Dale Street, Ainsdale Woods, Delamere Forest, the village of Great Budworth in Cheshire,[9] the Palm House and Croxteth Hall.[10] Filming and post-production were completed by May 2019.[11]



The first footage from the BBC miniseries appeared in July 2018, followed by trailers in January 2019, with the first, longer trailer for the drama being released in September 2019.[12][13][14]


The miniseries was released in the UK in three weekly episodes.[15] Originally set to premiere in the UK during Christmas 2018,[11] The War of the Worlds actually premiered in Canada on T+E between 6 and 20 October 2019.[16] It was also broadcast in two parts instead of three on New Zealand's TVNZ 1 between 13 and 20 October 2019.[17] Mammoth Screen announced in September 2019 that the miniseries was expected to be released in the UK in late 2019;[18] the first episode had its UK premiere on 17 November 2019.[19]

ITV Studios Global Entertainment is responsible for the international distribution of The War of the Worlds miniseries.[1] It has been sold to major European countries and African territories.[20]

Critical reception[edit]

The War of the Worlds has received mixed reviews from critics. The miniseries holds a 67% approval rating at the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 21 critic reviews. The site's consensus reads "Respectful, if not exactly riveting, Craig Viveiros' reimagined The War of the Worlds's wandering narrative undermines its strong performances".[21]

The Guardian gave the miniseries four stars, deeming it 'solid and reliable' drama, but criticised the plot's pacing, stating it had a 'lack of urgency'.[22] The Independent gave it three stars, commending the performance and special effects, but complained about its attempts to speak to contemporary political issues.[23] The Telegraph gave the first episode two stars and criticised it for appearing low budget and the performances by Tomlinson and Spall.[24] The Irish Independent was unfavourable to the first episode and called it a 'massive disappointment'.[25] The Telegraph was more negative towards the second episode, giving it one star.[26] The Independent was more negative towards the third episode, giving it two stars, stating "The real war is not about martians, but the perceived liberal perceptions of a 2019 audience."[27]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Filming begins on BBC One drama The War of the Worlds". BBC. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Four-screen dashboard". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board.
  3. ^ Eddy, Cheryl (18 December 2015). "A New War of the Worlds TV Show Is in the Works". Gizmodo. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  4. ^ Liptak, Andrew (4 May 2017). "BBC is making a Victorian-era War of the Worlds TV series". The Verge. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  5. ^ Goodfellow, Melanie (15 October 2018). "ITV Studios racks up pre-sales on 'The War Of The Worlds' drama". Screen Daily. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  6. ^ Morgan Jeffery (11 November 2019). "Why BBC's War of the Worlds adaptation made this huge change to the book; Digital Spy". Digital Spy. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  7. ^ Perez, Lexy (29 September 2019). "BBC Unveils First Look at 'War of the Worlds' Adaptation in Debut Trailer". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  8. ^ Croot, James. "The War of the Worlds: Eleanor Tomlinson shines in BBC's slow-burning sci-fi". Stuff (company). Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  9. ^ "Liverpool Echo". Liverpool Echo. 8 April 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  10. ^ "BBC viewers stunned by Liverpool sets in historic alien drama". 17 November 2019.
  11. ^ a b Ling, Thomas (23 July 2019). "Don't worry, BBC1's The War of the Worlds IS still coming to TV". Radio Times. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  12. ^ BBC (15 July 2018). Brand new Drama coming soon - BBC. Event occurs at 0:22. Retrieved 17 November 2019 – via YouTube.
  13. ^ "BBC Drama 2019. Get Obsessed. | OFFICIAL TRAILER" – via YouTube.
  14. ^ Seddon, Dan (29 September 2019). "BBC's The War of the Worlds adaptation finally lands first trailer". DigitalSpy. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  15. ^ Kiefer, Halle. "BBC's War of the Worlds Trailer: Tell King Edward VII to Get His Mech Suit On. The Aliens Are Here". Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  16. ^ "Channel Your Fears: T+E Conjures Up Five Spooky New Shows and Resurrects Two Fan-Favourite Series This October". Blue Ant Media. 5 September 2019. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  17. ^ "The War of the Worlds". TVNZ. 2 October 2019. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  18. ^ Mammoth Screen [@mammothscreen] (9 September 2019). "#TheWarOfTheWorlds, the H.G. Wells classic science fiction adaptation by Peter Harness, directed by Craig Viveiros and starring Eleanor Tomlinson, Rafe Spall, Robert Carlyle and Rupert Graves will be arriving in autumn 2019 on @BBCOne" (Tweet). Retrieved 30 September 2019 – via Twitter.
  19. ^ Mammoth Screen [@mammothscreen] (5 November 2019). "They're coming. #TheWarOfTheWorlds comes to @BBCOne on Sunday 17th November" (Tweet). Retrieved 5 November 2019 – via Twitter.
  20. ^ Chu, Henry (29 September 2019). "'The War of the Worlds' Trailer Drops From the BBC (Watch)". Variety. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  21. ^ "The War of the Worlds (2019): Season 1 (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  22. ^ Nicholson, Rebecca (17 November 2019). "The War of the Worlds review – doom, dystopia and a dash of Downton". The Guardian.
  23. ^ Cumming, Ed (18 November 2019). "The War of the Worlds review: A lavish adaptation let down by its need to be socially relevant". The Independent. London. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  24. ^ Anita, Singhen (18 November 2019). "The War of the Worlds, episode 1 review: small-scale Martians and women being woke in Woking". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  25. ^ Stacey, Pat (18 November 2019). "The War of the Worlds review: 'A massive disappointment'". The Independent. London. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  26. ^ Anita, Singhen (24 November 2019). "The War of the Worlds, episode 2 review - more soppy domestic drama than sci-fi thriller". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  27. ^ Pollard, Alexandra (1 December 2019). "The War of the Worlds review: Too patronising to be an anti-colonialist allegory". The Independent. London. Retrieved 1 December 2019.

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