When is The War of the Worlds on TV? Who is in the cast?

Eleanor Tomlinson and Rafe Spall star in a brand-new adaptation of the HG Wells sci-fi classic

  We may earn commission from links on this page. Our editorial is always independent (learn more)
War of The Worlds

Eighty years after an infamous radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds supposedly sparked a mass panic that the world was ACTUALLY ending, the BBC is gifting us with a brand-new adaptation of the HG Wells sci-fi novel.


Eleanor Tomlinson, Rafe Spall, Robert Carlyle and Rupert Graves will star in the three-part series, written for television by Doctor Who’s Peter Harness.

Here’s what we know so far.

When is The War of the Worlds on TV?

The show kicked off Sunday 17th November 2019 at 9pm on BBC1.

It’s likely all three episodes have been finished since April 2019.

The airing comes after a long delay for the miniseries, which shot in mid-2018 and was originally expected to air that festive season.

RadioTimes.com understands the delay may have been due to issues with the special effects work required on the drama.

Is there a trailer for The War of the Worlds?

There is indeed!

Showing off the action as humanity tries to fight off a vastly powerful alien enemy that hatches from a meteorite, the first-look footage makes things seem pretty desperate for Earth.

Who stars in The War of the Worlds?

Eleanor Tomlinson and Rafe Spall play George and Amy, a couple defying the prejudices of society as they attempt to start a life together, all the while swerving the ongoing chaos of an alien invasion.

Tomlinson is best known for her role as Demelza in Poldark. She also recently starred in Ordeal by Innocence, as Mary Durrant.

Eleanor Tomlinson in Poldark, BBC Pictures, SL
Eleanor Tomlinson in Poldark (BBC)

Spall, son of Timothy Spall, has starred in One Day, Prometheus, Life of Pi and The Big Short.

Also joining them are Robert Carlyle as astronomer Ogilvy, and Rupert Graves (Sherlock’s DI Lestrade) as George’s brother Frederick.

“It’s fantastic to have Rafe and Eleanor leading such a brilliant cast of British acting talent in the BBC’s faithful adaptation of H.G. Wells’ legendary story,” said Tommy Bulfin, BBC commissioning editor, in a statement.

What is The War of the Worlds about?

The War of the Worlds (1897) is a novel by English author HG Wells, who also wrote The Time Machine and became known as the father of science fiction. It’s one of the earliest books to tell the story of a conflict between mankind and an extraterrestrial race – in this case, Martians.

When a strange object lands in the heart of England and hatches, the inhabitants of Earth find themselves under attack from ruthless aliens armed with heat rays and poisonous smoke. You can take a look at The War of The Worlds book here.

How similar will this be to the original novel?

Unlike Steven Spielberg’s 2005 movie adaptation starring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, the BBC’s version will be true to the original period and setting.

“HG Wells’ seminal novel has been adapted for the screen many times, but it’s always had a contemporary (and American) setting,” director Craig Viveiros said. “This is the first version to be set in London and [its environs] during the Edwardian period.”

However, George and Amy – Spall and Tomlinson’s characters – are a new addition.


Writer Peter Harness added: “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: a collision of sci-fi, period drama and horror.”