'Downton Abbey' Creator Julian Fellowes Teams With Netflix for 'The English Game'

Fellowes' first series with the streamer will look at the historic orgins of soccer, and how factory workers and upper-class Englishmen reached across the class divide to create the world's most popular sport.
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Julian Fellowes

Netflix is partnering with Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and production company 42 for a new soccer origins drama, The English Game. Fellowes will write the six-part drama detailing the invention of modern soccer from a rudimentary game that grew across class lines into the world's most popular sport with 240 million active players around the world. 

The streaming giant has previously banked on soccer's global popularity, with, among other shows, an Italian docuseries on Juventus FC. The new series was announced in Rome on Wednesday morning at Netflix's See What's Next event, focusing on upcoming European series. 

Netflix also announced a new German series The Wave, based on the 2008 hit film from Dennis Gansel, which is also inspired by true events. The show will be produced by Rat Pack in association with Sony Pictures Television Germany.

Billed as a political thriller, the plot involves an unorthodox teacher who decides to teach his students about living under a dictatorship by creating a social experiment to show how easily the masses can be manipulated. Understandably, the experiment goes horribly wrong. 

A number of new series are delving further into the supernatural. France will see a new series called Mortal, about teenagers bound together by an unknown force, from creator Frederic Garcia and produced by Mandarin Television. 

Netflix will also have their first original from the Netherlands, announced for 2019, created by production company Pupkin. The unnamed series will see a group of well-to-do Dutch students who stumble upon a portal into a demonic world from the Dutch golden age. 

And Italy will see Black Moon, a 17th-century-set series based on women accused of witchcraft, created by Francesca Manieri, Laura Paolucci and Tiziana Triana and produced by Fandango. 

And following the success of part one and two of their Spanish heist phenomenon, the streamer will develop La Casa de Papel 3 for 2019. 

Netflix also announced its first original Italian film, Forgive Us Our Debts, by Antonio Morabito with Claudio Santamaria, Marco Giallini and Jerzy Stuhr. An unemployed man agrees to work for a debt collector, but soon find himself in over his head.

“With over 100 European projects launching this year, we are committed to being a voice for European entertainment, giving passionate local content creators a worldwide platform to share their vision, and offering consumers around the world unique and diverse stories they can discover and enjoy," said Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer. "And this is just the beginning of our journey.”