The chances of being in Woking are quite slim it seems. But still they come. I was watching that interview with “Randy Andy” (to take a step back into the past) on Saturday (Newsnight, BBC2) where Woking Pizza Express received a strange burst of publicity from HRH. And we were back in Woking again on Sunday, this time with “free-thinking” George and Amy causing scandal in Edwardian (oops) Britain through their lack of marital attachment.
Sunday night’s visit to Woking is perhaps more fun. Rafe Spall and Ealanor Tomlinson lead the BBC’s three-part adaptation of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds (BBC One). It is the first production to place the drama in its original setting, but Peter Harness hasn’t resisted the urge to add in some extra detail. It retains the discourse on imperialism lost to Pal and Spielberg versions, but George becomes a Wells surrogate and Amy has a more central role than her counterpart in the novel. Still, they seem to have spent more than half a sixpence on the production.
The first episode starts with a slow burn. Well, apart from a scene where those gathered around the “meteorite” experience a very fast burn. George is finding life hard, perhaps more than Amy, because influential people do not approve of their relationship. A touch of sympathy comes from amateur astronomer Ogilvy (Robert Carlyle in sedate Doctor Who mode) who might be an early casualty of the black death.
It’s a bit of a lark to begin with, and even after a crowd of people meet an untimely end, a combination of stiff upper lip and ignorance mutes the official response. As more meteorites land, we see our first tripod. George and Amy are separated and chaos ensues as the three-legged machine begins its onslaught.
Harness has added a framing device to the first episode which doesn’t bode well for the characters we have met so far. As ever, it is “To be continued”.