The English Game: First trailer for Netflix’s football period drama revealed as launch date confirmed

Downton Abbey’s creator is turning his talents to football in a new six-part mini-series about the origins of the world's most popular sport, starring Edward Holcroft and Kevin Guthrie.

By Katie Archer Published: 3 March 2020 - 11.23am
Oliver Upton / Netflix

We might know him best for his period drama about an upper-class family and their servants in Downton Abbey, but for his latest work, screenwriter Julian Fellowes is branching out into football.

The English Game is set to bring the story of the beautiful game to Netflix, as the six-part miniseries explores the origins of the world's most popular sport, tracing its roots back to northern England in the mid-1800s. 

Here’s what we know so far about The English Game on Netflix so far, including the start date, the cast list, the filming locations, and more.

When is The English Game on Netflix?

All six episodes of The English Game land on Netflix worldwide on Friday, March 20. In the UK, episodes are usually available to stream from 8am.

The English Game has been billed as a mini-series, so a second series isn't expected.

The English Game Oliver Upton / Netflix

Is there a trailer?

Yep - you can watch the first trailer for Julian Fellowes' series The English Game below:

What is it about?

Creator Julian Fellowes is best known for period dramas like Downton Abbey and the film Gosford Park, but if there’s one subject guaranteed to be as popular with UK viewers as his usual genre, it’s football.

Fellowes’ name might not exactly be synonymous with sport, but it sounds like his dramatic take on the game will be right up his street.

The English Game looks at the origins of the sport and how those who created it reached across Britain’s class divide to make the sport the most popular in the world.

So despite being a sports drama, it seems Fellowes is on familiar ground with historic class issues.

Julian Fellowes Rex Features

According to Goal.com, it will cover the clash of Eton College students – who had popularised one of the many early forms of football – and factory workers, who had formed professional clubs as factory teams in industrial towns.

In an interview with iNews, Fellowes revealed further details on the history behind the series.

“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," he said.

“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.”

Who are the cast and characters?

The English Game sees Edward Holcroft (Kingsman: The Golden Circle) play Arthur Kinnaird – known as the ‘First Lord of Football’.

He stars alongside Kevin Guthrie (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Dunkirk) as Glasgow native Fergus Suter, who is often considered the first recognised professional footballer.

The series also stars Charlotte Hope (Les Misérables, Game of Thrones), and Craig Parkinson, who is famed for his Line of Duty role as Matthew 'Dot' Cottan.

The English Game Oliver Upton / Netflix

Also appearing are James Harkness (The Victim), Niamh Walsh (Jamestown), Gerard Kearns (The Mark of Cain), Joncie Elmore (Downton Abbey), Sam Keeley (Anthropoid), Daniel Ings (The Crown), and Kate Dickie (Red Road).

Others featuring in the cast include Henry Lloyd Hughes (Killing Eve), Kate Phillips (Peaky Blinders), Ben Batt (Captain America: The First Avenger), Sylvestra Le Touzel, Harry Michell and Anthony Andrews.

Where was The English Game filmed?

Filming largely took place in Yorkshire and the North West of England in July 2019.

According to the Liverpool Echo, the series filmed in Percy Street in Liverpool City Centre.

Actors were seen lining the street in period costumes - including men in top hats, and women in ornate dresses from the time - alongside a horse and carriage.

The series also filmed in the Victorian model village of Saltaire in West Yorkshire, including Victoria Road, Albert Terrace and surrounding streets, the Telegraph & Argus reports.

Other scenes for the drama were shot in the Little Germany area of Bradford, where horses and carriages and actors in Victorian costume were spotted on Cater Street.

Production also took place at Stoneclough FC's football pitches in Bolton.

According to The Bolton News, the football ground of the West Lancashire League club is being converted into a stadium dating back to the late 1800s.

Nearby Smithills Hall in Bolton was also used as a filming location.

RadioTimes.com reports that the cast members who were required to play football on-screen prepared for their roles by training at Trafford Training Centre in Carrington - the training ground of Manchester United.

What else has Julian Fellowes written?

Fellowes is known globally for being the creator of ultra-successful period drama Downton Abbey, which culminates in a film release in September 2019.

He also won an Oscar for his screenplay for the film Gosford Park, and was responsible for TV mini-series Titanic.

Fellowes has two new period dramas coming out in 2020 – ITV series Belgravia in the UK, and the much-anticipated US-set series The Gilded Age.

The English Game premieres on Netflix on Friday, March 20.

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