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Meet the cast of BBC's The War of the Worlds

The Martians are being met by an all-star British cast, from Poldark's Eleanor Tomlinson to Sherlock's Rupert Graves

Published: Sunday, 1st December 2019 at 8:58 pm

We’ve got bad news for you: the Earth is about to be invaded by an army of mass-murdering tripod machines piloted by super high-tech Martians. Fortunately, however, it’s only the Earth portrayed in The War of the Worlds, the new BBC One sci-fi drama featuring an all-star cast.


Unlike the many previous adaptations of the classic HG Wells alien adventure, the series is faithful to the book’s setting in southern England at the turn of the twentieth century. And this means that rather than filled with US actors – as per the Spielberg version – the BBC series is packed with plenty of homegrown talent.

From stars of Poldark, Sherlock and Jurassic World, here are the actors you can see in The War of the Worlds.

Eleanor Tomlinson plays Amy

War of the worlds

Amy is the female lead of the story, a woman who has fallen in love with a married man, George (played by Rafe Spall).

“She's quite a modern woman in the Victorian era. She doesn't necessarily conform to the British way of living,” Tomlinson tells about her character.

“She's quite wild and is in a relationship with a married man. She's very strong and independent. It feels like she's being held back by society's idea of what women should be doing. [Amy is] interested in the stars and the planets – she's breaking those boundaries.”

What else has Eleanor Tomlinson been in?

Chances are you’ll recognise Tomlinson from portraying Demelza in BBC’s Poldark. However, she has also enjoyed roles in Jack the Giant Slayer (Princess Isabelle), The White Queen (Isabel Neville) and Death Comes to Pemberley (Georgiana Darcy).

She also appeared in The Sarah Jane Adventures and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.

Rafe Spall plays George

War of the worlds

George, based on the unnamed narrator of the novel, is a man whose life is torn apart by the alien invasion.

“He is an Edwardian gentleman who has defied convention and has fallen in love with an intelligent fierce beautiful woman called Amy (played by Eleanor Tomlinson), much to the disapproval of their family and society as a whole,” Spall tells “They go off and start a new life together in Woking. And then Martians come and obliterate the human race. Buzzkill!”

What else has Rafe spall been in?

Son of actor Timothy Spall, Rafe Spall has starred in the likes of The Big Short (Danny Moses), Life of Pi (the Writer), Hot Fuzz (DC Andy Cartwright) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Eli Mills), Men in Black: International (Agent C) and Black Mirror’s White Christmas (Joe Potter).

Rupert Graves plays Frederick

Rupert Graves in The War of the Worlds
BBC/Mammoth Screen

Frederick is the older brother to George, a sibling he has an uneasy relationship with. “George and Amy represent the new age. And Frederick represents the established Victorian orthodoxy of the time,” Graves tells “That obviously creates a rift and ideology between the two brothers.”

However, all isn’t lost in their relationship. “The Martians invading democratises everybody – everyone is in the same position. Our characters come closer together in our escape from the aliens.”

What else has Rupert Graves been in?

The actor portrayed DI Lestrade next to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes in the BBC series Sherlock.

Graves has also enjoyed roles in V for Vendetta (Dominic), A Room with a View (Freddy Honeychurch) and Last Tango in Halifax (Gary).

Robert Carlyle plays Ogilvy


One of the only characters that is named in the original novel, Ogilvy is an astronomer and chemist.

What else has Robert Carlyle been in?

Carlyle has starred in a series of hit films from The Full Monty (Gaz), Trainspotting (the unhinged Begbie) and The World is Not Enough (bald baddie Renard). You might also recognise him for his work in Stargate Universe and Richard Curtis’ Yesterday.

Harry Melling plays The Artilleryman

Harry Melling in The War of the Worlds
BBC/Mammoth Screen

Harry Potter star Melling plays a soldier caught up in the chaos of the Martin invasion.

What else has Harry Melling been in?

Best known for playing Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter films, Melling has also appeared in films The Lost City of Z (2016) and the Coen brothers' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018). He is currently also starring in His Dark Materials, which airs just before The War of the Worlds on Sunday nights.

Nicholas Le Prevost plays The Chamberlain


A senior government minister, the Chamberlain takes over when the Martians attack.

What else has Nicholas Le Prevost been in?

Veteran actor Le Prevost has appeared in a host of TV shows and films over the years, not limited to Shakespeare in Love, Testament of Youth, Run for Your Wife, Father Brown, Cranford and Midsomer Murders.

Jonathan Aris plays The Priest


Sherlock's Aris plays a man of the cloth eking out a living in a very different world...

What else has Jonathan Aris been in?

You’ll probably best recognise Aris in Sherlock (alongside co-star Rupert Graves), where he played forensics officer Philip Anderson. He also starred in The Night Manager (as spy Raymond Galt), the End of the F***ing World and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (Crispin), and is soon to appear in BBC/Netflix horror series Dracula.

Woody Norman plays George Junior


The young son of George and Amy, who lives in the red, post-Martian world.

What else has Woody Norman been in?

Norman has had a surprisingly packed career for his young age, previously appearing in BBC dramas like Les Miserablés as young Marius, Troy: Fall of a City as Evander, Silent Witness as Laurie and alongside screen mother Eleanor Tomlinson in Poldark (where he played Valentine Warleggan).


He has also appeared in The White Princess, Catastrophe, Him and upcoming ghost story The Small Hand.


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