War of the Worlds cast: who stars with Robert Carlyle in the new TV series, and when it starts on BBC One

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The War of the Worlds, a major adaptation by Peter Harness of H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi title, comes to BBC One this weekend.

The major new three-part drama explores a world where aliens and humans have contact - and, more importantly, conflict - and what that means for Earth.

Robert Carlyle in The War of the Worlds (Photo: BBC)

Robert Carlyle in The War of the Worlds (Photo: BBC)

Expect martians, many moody moments and action from the moment you switch on.

But the latest take on the story, previously adapted by Orson Welles and Steven Spielberg, also highlights climate change and invents a new leading role for the Poldark star, Eleanor Tomlinson.

Here's everything you need to know about it:

What is War of the Worlds about?

(Photo: BBC)

(Photo: BBC)

All of the drama begins when a foreign object lands in the heart of England.

Later on we watch as it grows and hatches, soon after humans find themselves under attack from ruthless alien. Did we mention they come armed with poisonous smoke amongst other weapons of mass destruction? Well, they do.

That's when the battle to save earth begins - but who will win?

The BBC version will be true to the original period, unlike Steven Spielberg’s big screen adaptation starring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, which relocated the story to contemporary New York

(Photo: BBC)

(Photo: BBC)

The most notorious adaptation of The War Of The Worlds remains Orson Welles’ 1938 version which is said to have been so realistic that some listeners thought Martians really were invading Earth.

The new BBC version is set in 1905.

"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, said Harness, "but which also feels contemporary, surprising and full of shocks: a collision of sci-fi, period drama and horror."

"There is nothing cosy or predictable about Wells’ novel, and that’s what I want to capture in the show."

"We have an incredible cast, a brilliant director and a wonderful crew - and I can’t wait for them to explode the terrifying story of the first alien invasion on to our screens.”

Who's in the cast?

Set in Edwardian England - the first alien invasion story in literature - the story follows George (played by Rafe Spall) and his partner Amy (Eleanor Tomlinson) as they attempt to defy society and start a life together.

“I am thrilled to be a part of bringing this much loved story to the small screen," said Rafe Spall on his role. "I couldn’t be in better company with Craig Viveiros, Peter Harness... and of course, the very talented Eleanor Tomlinson.”

Viewers may recognise Spall from films like The Big Short, Life of Pi and Hot Fuzz.

Though the new series will be true to the original period the story is set in, Tomlinson's part is one invented for the show.

Amy is a fiercely intelligent aspiring scientist who challenges Edwardian-era conventions and may prove mankind’s last hope of foiling the Martian invasion.

Extrapolated from the unnamed wife of Wells’ narrator, her character is barely mentioned in the 1898 novel.

“I didn’t want to write another sci-fi series where a man is getting into scrapes and (like in the book), packs his wife away out of harm’s way and doesn’t see her until the very end," said Harness.

“It's time for a woman to do it," said Tomlinson. "It was so refreshing to read Peter’s adaptation which has a woman at the core of the drama. Amy is strong and independent and her life force is captivating.”

Tomlinson's previously been seen in Poldark as Demelza, and has also enjoyed roles in Jack the Giant Slayer and The White Queen.

Amy teams up with Ogilvy (Robert Carlyle), an astronomer whose experiments will play a key role in facing down the escalating terror.

An “outsider” due to his bachelor status, Ogilvy is sympathetically portrayed as a closeted homosexual.

Carlyle said of his character: “He tells Amy that he is an unmarried bachelor of advancing years who keeps himself nicely turned out, which is a big thing to say in those times as you could go to jail for being gay.”

Rupert Graves (Sherlock) is Frederick, George's elder brother with whom he has an uneasy relationship.

Harry Melling (Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter films) plays an artilleryman caught up in the chaos of the Martian invasion, while Jonathan Aris (Sherlock) plays a priest.

The War of the Worlds tells their story as they face the escalating terror of an alien invasion, fighting for their lives against an enemy beyond their comprehension.

When can I watch it?

War of the Worlds begins on BBC One on Sunday 17 November at 9pm.