CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: The War Of The Worlds triumphed in burning down villages and levelling London to red dust... even if the budget looked a little threadbare

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At this time of year, every day has its own headline. There is Black Friday at the end of November, when the festive sales launch, and the Super Saturday bargain frenzy on the last weekend before Christmas.

Now there is box-set Sunday, the day the biggest shows of the year are unleashed.

And for costume drama spectacle, The War Of The Worlds triumphed in burning down an Edwardian village and levelling London to red dust — even if the budget looked a little threadbare in places. 

Well done: For costume drama spectacle, The War Of The Worlds was impressive — even if the budget looked a little threadbare in places

Well done: For costume drama spectacle, The War Of The Worlds was impressive — even if the budget looked a little threadbare in places

H.G. Wells's sci-fi classic The War Of The Worlds has been reimagined in numerous ways, from Steven Spielberg's modern-day setting in New York, to Jeff Wayne's West End musical.

This Peter Harness dramatisation succeeds because it only moves the timeframe slightly — from the Victorian to the Edwardian era.

Eleanor Tomlinson and Rafe Spall, as lady scientist Amy and her journalist boyfriend George, bicycled around their Surrey town at dawn in tweeds, happily oblivious to the alien invasion that was already under way.

Destruction: The extra-terrestrial invaders burned down an Edwardian village and levelled London to red dust during Sunday evening's show

Destruction: The extra-terrestrial invaders burned down an Edwardian village and levelled London to red dust during Sunday evening's show

Subtle change: This Peter Harness dramatisation succeeds because it only moves the timeframe slightly — from the Victorian to the Edwardian era

Subtle change: This Peter Harness dramatisation succeeds because it only moves the timeframe slightly — from the Victorian to the Edwardian era

Typewriters rattled under a haze of cigarette smoke in George's office, and astronomers fussed with camera plates or tapped their boots with riding crops in time to the gramophone.

We know with hindsight, of course, that this amiable idyll was about to be blown to smithereens by World War I. Nowadays, Wells's nightmare vision of the future has the air of a ghastly prophecy.

Amy is not in the book, but she was real — Wells left his wife four years before writing the novel, to live with one of his students, Amy Robbins.  

Before getting married, they rented a house in Woking for 18 months, where they caused something of scandal. 

Starring roles: Eleanor Tomlinson and Rafe Spall play lady scientist Amy and her journalist boyfriend George

Starring roles: Eleanor Tomlinson and Rafe Spall play lady scientist Amy and her journalist boyfriend George

Forewarning: Nowadays, Wells's nightmare vision of the future has the air of a ghastly prophecy

Forewarning: Nowadays, Wells's nightmare vision of the future has the air of a ghastly prophecy

'We're pariahs, George and I,' Amy announced at the outset. 

She seemed to be revelling in her notoriety — joining scientists to examine an alien egg that had scorched a crater into the Surrey woods, she boasted about her lover: 'Rather afraid we're not married.'

With a hiss of noxious gases, the egg cracked open. Even the Martians were outraged by such moral lapses in Edwardian times.

Fresh face: Amy is not in the book, but she was real — Wells left his wife four years before writing the novel, to live with one of his students, Amy Robbins

Fresh face: Amy is not in the book, but she was real — Wells left his wife four years before writing the novel, to live with one of his students, Amy Robbins

Ruins: Edwardian London is udner attack in this new rendering of Wells' classic novel

Ruins: Edwardian London is udner attack in this new rendering of Wells' classic novel 

 

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: The War Of The Worlds triumphed even if the budget looked a little threadbare

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