‘The War of the Worlds’ reviews round-up: ‘Downton Abbey but with aliens’

The BBC’s new The War of the Worlds mini-series finally began airing this weekend.

The three-part adaptation of H. G. Wells’s classic sci-fi novel comes from the makers of Poldark and Victoria.

With a cast led by Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark), Rafe Spall (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting) and Rupert Graves (Sherlock), the first episode aired last night in the UK on BBC One.

Watch the trailer:

The official synopsis reads: “Set in Edwardian England, this new adaptation of H.G. Wells’ seminal tale – the first alien invasion story in literature – follows George (played by Rafe Spall) and his partner Amy (Eleanor Tomlinson) as they attempt to defy society and start a life together.

“Rupert Graves is Frederick, George’s elder brother, and Robert Carlyle plays Ogilvy, an astronomer and scientist. 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.”

We’ve rounded up a selection of reviews to help you decide if you’d like to watch it:


“Despite bits of sculpting here and there, [writer Peter] Harness is not ripping up the novel and starting again. This War of the Worlds is thoroughly and entirely respectful … when the Downton flourishes turn into Doctor Who, it kicks into life.” ★★★★ – The Guardian


“…the BBC’s long-awaited, lavishly mounted three-parter does [the story] full justice, capturing its mounting sense of awestruck fear while skilfully expanding on elements only hinted at in the original.” ★★★★ – iNews


“The BBC’s new adaptation of The War of the The Worlds might be trying to take on too much at once.” – Den of Geek


“Without a doubt, the most interesting aspect of War of the Worlds is its setting. The show takes full advantage of its Edwardian era to showcase its production and costume design, which will make your “Downton Abbey but with aliens” dreams come true.” – Slash Film


“A lavish adaptation let down by its need to be socially relevant.” ★★★ – The Independent


“By taking the story back to Edwardian England, just a decade after the novel was first published, writer and executive producer Peter Harness tackles surprisingly modern themes within a traditional framework, exploring the parallels between the British Empire of old and our country’s political strife today.” – Digital Spy


“Action and sci-fi fans might be disappointed at the understated pyrotechnics and lack of martian sightings, while Poldark followers need to know there’s only shirt-on shovelling on display, rather than scything. However, while it might lack the urgency and visceral nature of other, more high-profile space invasion stories, there’s a lot to like about this War.” – Stuff.co.nz


The War of the Worlds continues on Sunday nights at 9pm on BBC One and it’ll be available to watch on BBC iPlayer after broadcast.

H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds novel is available on Amazon.