First serialised in 1897, The War of the Worlds by legendary science fiction writer H G Wells is a crucial part of the genre’s foundation. In the twelve decades since it was first read by an avid Victorian audience, the story has been retold and remade in many formats and has always had audiencs flocking to read, listen and watch the story of how aliens first tore apart our planet. As much as it played on the common superstitions and prejudices of the Victorian era, the themes and inherent humanity within the novel resonate just as profoundly to this day.
In blending the story’s contemporary significance with its original content, the BBC has commissioned a new adaptation of the novel. Along with ten other commissions in the works, it was announced recently that the three episode series would come to televisions early next year.
It will be written by Peter Harness, of Doctor Who notoriety. Unlike other modern adaptation that alter the details of the story – like the location, era and main characters – to reflect a more contemporary world, Harness’s new version will return to the Victorian setting of the source material, recreating the original in a way that has not often been seen, certainly in recent years.
In an interview with North-West Evening Mail, Harness discussed how he intends to approach the piece and what it means to be working on such a culturally profound project:
“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 20th Century. Wells’ 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.”
If the Rotten Tomatoes scores for his Doctor Who episodes are any indication, this new how is going to be one to watch out for.