‘The English Game’: New Netflix Series From the Creator of ‘Downton Abbey’ Is All About Soccer

Are you a sports nut who also loves Downton Abbey? Then the new Netflix series The English Game will be just your cup of tea. This six-part series from the creator of Downton traces the 19th-century origins of soccer (or, as they call it across the pond, football). It arrives on Netflix on March 20. 

Julian Fellowes created ‘The English Game’ 

Downton Abbey fans know Julian Fellowes as the creator of the lavish and much-loved period drama about the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants. He also wrote the script for the Downton Abbey movie and won an Oscar for his screenplay for Gosford Park in 2002. Now, he’s back on television with a series about sports. But there’s also a Downton-esque focus of class differences. 

The English Game “charts the origins of football and how those involved in its creation reached across the class divide to establish the game as the world’s most popular sport,” according to Netflix. 

A new trailer for the series makes it clear that the divide between the haves and the have-nots will be a major theme in The English Game. Modern soccer emerged out of games played at England’s elite public schools like Eton. But in the show, audiences will see the tension between the upper-class players of the game and the working-class athletes who formed their own teams. 

“We invented it. For gentlemen,” says one character in the trailer. 

“There are people who don’t think working men should be playing the game,” says another. 

The English Game stars include Edward Holcroft, Kevin Guthrie, Charlotte Hope, Craig Parkinson, James Harkness, Niamh Walsh, and Gerard Kearns. 

When will we see ‘Belgravia’ and ‘The Gilded Age’?

The English Game may slake the thirst of costume drama fans who are eagerly awaiting two of Fellowes’ higher-profile projects. 

Belgravia is based on Fellowes’ 2016 book of the same name. The six-episode miniseries begins at a ball that is held just before the Battle of Waterloo before jumping 25 years into the future. It focuses on two families: the new-money Trenchards and the aristocratic Brockenhursts. The two families are at odds, but a closely guarded secret binds them together. It premieres on Sunday, April 12 at 9/8c on Epix.

Also on deck is The Gilded Age. This 10-part HBO series will see Fellowes exploring the lives of American elites in the late 19th century. It will star Christina Baranski, Cynthia Nixon, Amanda Peet, and Morgan Spector. But fans will have to patient. Fellowes revealed at the TCA Winter Press Tour that he was still working on scripts for the show, which should begin shooting later in 2020.

What about the ‘Downton Abbey’ sequel?

Last fall, fans flocked to theaters to see the big-screen treatment of Downton Abbey. That film’s success means we’re likely to get a sequel featuring the further exploits of the Crawleys. But Fellowes has said that he needs to finish working on The Gilded Age before he can start thinking about another Downton film.  

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