Rafe Spall joins The War Of The Worlds TV adaptation as kicks off production in Liverpool

Last year, it was announced that The War Of The Worlds – one of the best-read science fiction in history – was being adapted for a British television. 

And on Wednesday, filming was seen getting well underway in Cheshire’s Delamere Forest, as Rafe Spall shot dramatic alien attack scenes for the BBC adaptation of HG Wells’ classic novel.

Getting into character as George, the 35-year-old actor sported a soot-covered Victorian-ea dark suit as he chatted away on the set with Harry Melling, who stepped out in soldier uniform for his role in the upcoming drama.

Adaptation: Rafe Spall was spotted shooting scenes for the BBC's adaptation of HG Wells' classic novel The War Of The Worlds in Cheshire's Delamere Forest on Wednesday

Adaptation: Rafe Spall was spotted shooting scenes for the BBC's adaptation of HG Wells' classic novel The War Of The Worlds in Cheshire's Delamere Forest on Wednesday

Adaptation: Rafe Spall was spotted shooting scenes for the BBC’s adaptation of HG Wells’ classic novel The War Of The Worlds in Cheshire’s Delamere Forest on Wednesday

The pair were surrounded by a group of soldiers, who were seen bearing rifles as they acted out scenes for the three-part series, hours after filming had taken place on a set in Liverpool’s Eldon Grove, Vauxhall.

Dressed in Victorian-era attire, a group of soldiers were seen carrying bodies on stretchers through a set fashioned to look like a bombed street as cameras rolled.

A solitary woman was also seen standing before cameras with blood on the side of her face as she wandered through the aftermath of an explosion, while an elderly man, muddied by rubble, stood in shock with his hands across his chest.

Having a chat: He was seen chatting with Harry Melling, who was dressed in solider uniform

Having a chat: He was seen chatting with Harry Melling, who was dressed in solider uniform

Having a chat: He was seen chatting with Harry Melling, who was dressed in solider uniform

Suited and booted: The 35-year-old actor stepped before cameras in a loose-fitting dark suit

Suited and booted: The 35-year-old actor stepped before cameras in a loose-fitting dark suit

Suited and booted: The 35-year-old actor stepped before cameras in a loose-fitting dark suit

Ready for battle: The Extras looked ready for battle as they roamed the set in their ensembles

Ready for battle: The Extras looked ready for battle as they roamed the set in their ensembles

Ready for battle: The Extras looked ready for battle as they roamed the set in their ensembles

Armed: They were also seen bearing rifles as they acted out their fight against an alien invasion

Armed: They were also seen bearing rifles as they acted out their fight against an alien invasion

Armed: They were also seen bearing rifles as they acted out their fight against an alien invasion

The book, which was published more than 120 years ago, will be imagined in a three-part BBC adaptation, which tells the story of a catastrophic alien invasion.

Whilst previous big screen adaptations have been set in the US, this version will stay true to the original book and unfold in London and Surrey – where marauding Martians are attacking humans.

The tentacled aliens use sophisticated fighting machines known as ‘tripods’ and chemical weapons dubbed ‘Black Smoke’ to lay waste to as many people as possible, in order that they can suck their blood.

The novel has been adapted by Peter Harness, the screenwriter behind Wallander and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and is set to be broadcast later this year.

Under wraps: Harry, who appeared in the Harry Potter films, kept himself warm in a camouflage coat between takes

Under wraps: Harry, who appeared in the Harry Potter films, kept himself warm in a camouflage coat between takes

Under wraps: Harry, who appeared in the Harry Potter films, kept himself warm in a camouflage coat between takes

Warming up: Other castmembers wrapped up under blankets, coats and hats between takes

Warming up: Other castmembers wrapped up under blankets, coats and hats between takes

Warming up: Other castmembers wrapped up under blankets, coats and hats between takes

In good company: Poldark actress Eleanor Tomlinson, who has yet to be spotted on the set, will also be starring in the miniseries

In good company: Poldark actress Eleanor Tomlinson, who has yet to be spotted on the set, will also be starring in the miniseries

In good company: Poldark actress Eleanor Tomlinson, who has yet to be spotted on the set, will also be starring in the miniseries

Military weaponry: A range of military weaponry was scattered throughout the forest set

Military weaponry: A range of military weaponry was scattered throughout the forest set

Military weaponry: A range of military weaponry was scattered throughout the forest set

Action: A storyboard, which gives a hint of all of the action to come, was also seen on the set

Action: A storyboard, which gives a hint of all of the action to come, was also seen on the set

Action: A storyboard, which gives a hint of all of the action to come, was also seen on the set

Damien Timmer, head of Mammoth Screen – the production company which will make the show – said that his adaptation will remain faithful to the original.

‘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 Dorking at the turn of the last century.

‘We hope Peter’s adaptation will be the definitive adaptation of one of the great classic novels.’ 

Mr Harness said: ‘I’m feeling phenomenally lucky to be writing The War of the Worlds, and blowing up gigantic swathes of the Home Counties at the dawn of the twentieth century.’

Shooting underway: Earlier in the day, actors were spotted shooting dramatic scenes on the Liverpool set of the BBC's three-part adaptation of HG Wells' classic novel

Shooting underway: Earlier in the day, actors were spotted shooting dramatic scenes on the Liverpool set of the BBC's three-part adaptation of HG Wells' classic novel

Shooting underway: Earlier in the day, actors were spotted shooting dramatic scenes on the Liverpool set of the BBC’s three-part adaptation of HG Wells’ classic novel

Devastated: Castmembers got into character as they portrayed the devastation of the attack

Devastated: Castmembers got into character as they portrayed the devastation of the attack

Devastated: Castmembers got into character as they portrayed the devastation of the attack

Going back in time: Actors were seen dressed in Victorian-era solider uniforms as they shot scenes portraying the aftermath of a harrowing alien attack

Going back in time: Actors were seen dressed in Victorian-era solider uniforms as they shot scenes portraying the aftermath of a harrowing alien attack

Going back in time: Actors were seen dressed in Victorian-era solider uniforms as they shot scenes portraying the aftermath of a harrowing alien attack

The War Of The Worlds has been dramatised numerous times over the years – but it has almost always been set in America.

One of the most famous versions was the 1953 film starring Gene Barry, which placed the action in California

Who was HG Wells? 

Author Herbert George Wells was born in Bromley in 1866 to parents who were shopkeepers in Kent. 

His first novel was The Time Machine, but his most famous work was The War of the Worlds.

It was seen as a revolutionary vision into the future. 

He died in 1946 and suffering from diabetes set up The Diabetic Association which later became Diabetes UK in the years before his death.

In the late eighties, Paramount made a series for American and Canadian television imagining what would have happened there after the novel finished.

And, more recently, in 2005, the HG Wells book was turned into a major Hollywood blockbuster directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise as an American father trying to save his family.

According to insiders, British broadcasters have wanted to do a faithful retelling of HG Wells’ book for some time.

However, it was difficult to get the rights from Paramount – and it was considered too expensive to make. Recent advances in technology mean that it is now much cheaper.

Piers Wenger, the BBC’s new drama boss, said: ‘Up until now, TV has not been able to achieve the same production values as film, and that is no longer the case. We think this is a way of exploring period drama in a really new, and surprising way.’

Wade: Men dressed as solider waded through a plethora of overturned dustbins for the scenes

Wade: Men dressed as solider waded through a plethora of overturned dustbins for the scenes

Wade: Men dressed as solider waded through a plethora of overturned dustbins for the scenes

Novel: Bodies were seen on stretchers in the first British TV adaptation of the HG Wells novel

Novel: Bodies were seen on stretchers in the first British TV adaptation of the HG Wells novel

Novel: Bodies were seen on stretchers in the first British TV adaptation of the HG Wells novel

Released: The BBC's three-part take on the classic novel is set to be released later this year

Released: The BBC's three-part take on the classic novel is set to be released later this year

Released: The BBC’s three-part take on the classic novel is set to be released later this year

Dilapidated: A row of dilapidated homes were used as the backdrop for the dramatic scenes

Dilapidated: A row of dilapidated homes were used as the backdrop for the dramatic scenes

Dilapidated: A row of dilapidated homes were used as the backdrop for the dramatic scenes

He added that The War of the Worlds was one of a number of new series that will make the BBC’s output feel more British – so that in five years’ time it feels like a ‘celebration of British authorship, identity and life in all its most diverse forms.’

‘I 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.

A classic sci-fi novel 

The War of the Worlds is a science fiction novel by HG Wells, which was first published in 1897 as a serialisation in Pearson’s Magazine in the UK and Cosmopolitan in the US. 

A year later it was published in book form and tells the tale of two brothers as England is invaded by Martians. 

It was an instant hit and has been adapted numerous times. 

The most famous of which was Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast, which went out as a news bulletin and caused widespread panic. 

Jeff Wayne launched his musical interpretation of the story in 1978 and Tom Cruise starred in a Steven Spielberg-directed movie in 2005.

‘I think 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,’ he said.

But not everything on the BBC’s new slate of dramas quite lives up to that billing.

The corporation is also planning a new version of Little Women, the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott which follows the story of the four March sisters growing up in 19th century America.

Call The Midwife writer Heidi Thomas will adapt the book for a three-part series expected to air later this year or in 2018.

Miss Thomas said: ‘Little Women is one of the most loved novels in the English language and with good reason. Its humanity, humour and tenderness never date, and as a study of love, grief and growing up it has no equal. There could be no better time to revisit the story of a family striving for happiness in an uncertain world, and I am thrilled to be bringing the March girls to a new generation of viewers.’

Little Women has been dramatised numerous times since its publication in 1868. The first was in 1933 starring Katharine Hepburn as the tomboy of the sisters, Jo March. It was a role reprised by Winona Rider in 1993.

Screening: Tom Cruise and then-wife Katie Holmes attended a fan screening of Paramount Pictures' War of the Worlds at Hollywood's Grauman's Chinese Theatre in June 2005

Screening: Tom Cruise and then-wife Katie Holmes attended a fan screening of Paramount Pictures' War of the Worlds at Hollywood's Grauman's Chinese Theatre in June 2005

Screening: Tom Cruise and then-wife Katie Holmes attended a fan screening of Paramount Pictures’ War of the Worlds at Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in June 2005

Scribe: Author Herbert George Wells (pictured) was born in Bromley in 1866 to parents who were shopkeepers in Kent. He died in 1946 and suffering from diabetes

Scribe: Author Herbert George Wells (pictured) was born in Bromley in 1866 to parents who were shopkeepers in Kent. He died in 1946 and suffering from diabetes

Scribe: Author Herbert George Wells (pictured) was born in Bromley in 1866 to parents who were shopkeepers in Kent. He died in 1946 and suffering from diabetes

 

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