Writer Peter Har­ness dis­cusses his new TV take on The War Of The Worlds

SFX - - Red Alert -

Mar­tian war ma­chines will be strid­ing across Sur­rey again in a new three-part, pe­riod-set­ting TV ver­sion of HG Wells’s 1897 clas­sic The War Of The Worlds. It’s cur­rently be­ing writ­ten by Peter Har­ness, who’s penned Doc­tor Who episodes like “The Zy­gon In­va­sion”.

Re­vis­it­ing the book, Har­ness was struck by how bru­tal it is. “It doesn’t pull any punches! You’re on the ground with a bunch of peo­ple get­ting burnt to death. That’s what I’d like to do with it: not make it cosy or charm­ing, but re­ally go over the shoul­der of peo­ple and tell it from a ground-level point of view.”

Har­ness prom­ises he’ll be re­tain­ing key plot el­e­ments, plus char­ac­ters like the Ar­tillery­man and the Cu­rate. He’s also look­ing to the book for mo­ments not pre­vi­ously drama­tised.

“There’s a lot of in­ci­den­tal de­tail. Wells talks about ex­per­i­ments on the ma­chines which re­sulted in the deaths of hun­dreds of peo­ple. It’s about keep­ing the nar­ra­tive that’s there but also look­ing at the lit­tle throw­aways and see­ing how you could use those.”

The writer also notes that stay­ing faith­ful to Wells – a com­mit­ted so­cial­ist – means this will be an SF drama with po­lit­i­cal un­der­tones.

“I don’t think you can do Wells with­out ac­knowl­edg­ing that he was an ex­tremely po­lit­i­cal writer,” Har­ness says. “The War Of The Worlds, at its base, is an al­le­gory of im­pe­ri­al­ism, and what it must be like to be dec­i­mated by fu­tur­is­tic weapons to­tally be­yond your ca­pac­ity to un­der­stand. Those echoes are go­ing to come out, be­cause they’re part of the fab­ric of it... But there’ll be plenty of things blow­ing up, ten­ta­cled mon­sters and shit like that too!”

The War Of The Worlds be­gins film­ing in 2018. and will air on BBC One.

HG Wells’s fa­mous Mar­tian in­va­sion is get­ting back to its Vic­to­rian roots.

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