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Downton Abbey's Julian Fellows to write Netflix football drama

Monday, April 23rd 2018 by Emma Woollacott

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has been commissioned by Netflix to write a new drama series about football.

The English Game looks at the early days of the game that will reveal the story of, amongst others, Fergie Suter, a Glasgwegian stonemason who became one of the first ever professional football players.

"From the UK we have a six-part drama about the invention of modern football, and how those involved in its creation reached across the class divide to establish the game that's the world's most popular sport," explained Netflix's vice president of International Originals Erick Barmack at the company's See What's Next showcase.

"This is part Etonians, this is part factory workers coming together to create the world's most popular sport. This is produced by 42 and written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes."

The English Game is just one of seven new European drama series in the pipeline, including Netflix's first Dutch original series, created by production company Pupkin and launching in 2019. Set in Amsterdam, it follows a group of Dutch students who have it all - but accidentally open a portal to a demonic world.

'Great storytelling'

There's another supernatural series coming too. Mortel, Netflix's fifth original series from France, tells the story of teenagers bound together by a supernatural force. And, by contrast, Luna Nera is a rather more realistic original genre series about women suspected of witchcraft in 17th century Italy.

Meanwhile, The Wave, from Germany, is based on the 2008 hit movie of the same name, in which a Norwegian geologist and his family fight for survival when a massive landslide causes a 250-foot tidal wave. The series is being produced in association with Sony Pictures Television.

Spain's La Casa de Papel gets another outing following the global success of Part 1 and 2. In the third series, due out next year, the Professor will develop new heists around the world.

Finally, Turn Up Charlie is a new Netflix original comedy series from the UK. Executive produced by Idris Elba and Gary Reich, the eight-part series stars Elba as a DJ who reluctantly becomes a 'manny' to his best friend's difficult daughter.

All in all, says Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, there are more than 100 European projects set to launch this year.

"Our belief is that great storytelling transcends borders. When stories from different countries, languages and cultures find a worldwide platform where the only limitation is the creator's imagination, then unique, yet universal, stories emerge that are embraced by a global audience," he says.

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