Controller of BBC Drama and former Doctor Who producer, Piers Wenger has announced over 47-hours of new drama commissions which includes a three-part adaptation of HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds.
Peter Harness, who adapted Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell will be scripting the first British television adaptation of HG Wells’ novel The War Of The Worlds. It is being produced by Mammoth Screen for BBC One.
Horsell Common in Surrey is struck by a huge meteor, and the inhabitants of Earth slowly fall victim to a vicious invasion. The three-part drama follows one man’s attempt to escape the ruthless Martians - but they are determined to destroy all human life as they attempt to conquer the earth…
“I’m feeling phenomenally lucky to be writing The War Of The Worlds,” says Harness. “And blowing up gigantic swathes of the Home Counties at the dawn of the twentieth century. Wells’s book is ground zero for all modern science fiction, and like all the best sci-fi, manages to sneak in some pretty astonishing comments on what it is to be a human being too. I’m hoping to follow in the great man’s footsteps by making a terrifying, Martian-packed series which manages to be emotional, characterful, and - deep breath, dare I say it - even political at the same time.”
Damien Timmer, Mammoth Screen Managing Director, adds: “It’s a great honour to bring HG Wells’s masterpiece to BBC One. This huge title - the original alien invasion story - has been loosely adapted and riffed on countless times, but no one has ever attempted to follow Wells and locate the story in Woking at the turn of the last century. We hope Peter’s adaptation will be the definitive adaptation of one of the great classic novels - and a visceral, thought provoking thrill ride!”
The War Of The Worlds has been commissioned by Piers Wenger and Charlotte Moore, written by Peter Harness (Doctor Who, Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell, Wallander) and will be produced by Mammoth Screen (Poldark, The City And The City, The Witness For The Prosecution, NW) for BBC One. Filming will begin early 2018.
“Returning to the BBC after five years away, said Wenger, “I’ve been struck by how much things have changed. Charlotte and the team have made BBC Drama the home of creative risk and challenged conventional wisdom on what popular drama is. In a world where there is just so much content, it’s never been more important for BBC Drama to deliver the unexpected and for us to be clear and strong on what sets us apart. Only by thinking outside the usual parameters will we discover the next generation of standout shows. It’s all about the idea - not the box we put it in.
“I want us to be less bound by conventions of genre, slot and channel even when considering new work. We know that the biggest risks deliver the biggest hits and in a landscape which is so fast changing, ideas need to be well ahead of the curve. And that means giving ourselves maximum creative headroom to allow ideas to develop and grow.
“I also want a strong streak of Britishness to run through the centre of everything we do. It gives us distinctiveness in a crowded landscape and a strong identity internationally. I think that it’s the individuality, chutzpah, determined vision and tireless curiosity at the heart of Britain’s creative community which has played a huge part in turning drama from the UK into such a valuable cultural export and so I’d like the next five years of drama from the BBC to be a celebration of British authorship, identity and life in all its most diverse forms.”