Downton Abbey creator, writer and executive producer Julian Fellowes has teamed up with Netflix with a new series in the works titled The English Game, which dramatises the foundation of modern football as we know it.
In his new drama series, Fellowes will delve into how the game “reached across the class divide” and how the beautiful game became the passion of so many, showing how footballers became famous in their own right and a source of local pride.
With an impressive line-up of actors already confirmed for the drama series, Goal takes a look at what The English Game is about, when it is released and who will star in it.
What is The English Game?
The English Game is a new drama mini-series helmed by Downton Abbey creator Fellowes, which will explore the origins of football and tracing its roots back to northern England in the mid-1800s.
Figures in the series are likely to include Alfred Lyttelton QC, an Etonian politician and sportsman who flourished at both football and cricket as well as his wife Octavia Laura, a member of the intellectual group known as The Souls.
It will be a six-part series covering the genesis of the sport and how those involved in its beginnings reached across different social classes, turning the game into the world's most beloved.
It will cover the clash of Eton College students – who had popularised a form of football – and factory workers, who had formed professional clubs as factory teams in industrial towns.
“There’s this extraordinary anomaly that football, originally devised by public schoolboys at Eton, to be played by their own rules, becomes this game that dominates the world," Fellowes told i News.
“As the game spread, it becomes less tenable that the Etonians could reserve football for themselves.
“The clubs that rise in the industrial Midlands and the North become the true representatives of the game.”
Fellowes himself is “not madly sporty”, but was inspired to explore the subject of football through his son.
“I took him to East Ham to see their home fight with Manchester United. It was extraordinary to see something done so superbly, such a masterful demonstration of the craft," he said.
“The game has become divorced from its roots and something has become lost along the way.
"But I still think football is a force for good.”
It will be directed by The Spanish Princess' Birgitte Staermose and Happy Valley's Tim Fywell, while Traitors' Rhonda Smith while produce it. Rory Aitken, Eleanor Moran and Ben Pugh will be executive producing the series.
When is The English Game released?
The six-part drama will be released on Netflix in 2020.
Shooting and production for the series began in the UK in spring 2019.
Who is in the cast of The English Game?
The full cast list for the upcoming series is still yet to be confirmed, but the Kingsman's Edward Holcroft, Kevin Guthrie, Charlotte Hope and Craig Parkinson are among the first names announced for the billing of the new series.
James Harkness (The Victim), Niamh Walsh (Jamestown), Gerard Kearns (Shameless), Daniel Ings (The Crown), Henry Lloyd Hughes (The Inbetweeners), Kate Phillips (Peaky Blinders) and Joncie Elmore (Downton Abbey) will also take part.
Parkinson, formerly of Line of Duty, said in May that he had begun filming in Yorkshire, with production set to run through at least July.
“We’re filming all around Yorkshire and the North West at the moment until the end of July,” he said.
“I feel extremely lucky to be working with all these brilliant people on great projects, it’s a very exciting time.”