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'The English': All you need to know about Emily Blunt's TV starring role

Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer star in The English. (BBC)
Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer star in The English. (BBC)

Emily Blunt makes her return to TV drama for the first time in 16 years with BBC Two's The English.

But what is the series about, who does she play, and what tempted the Hollywood star back to the small screen?

Here's all you need to know about The English.

When is The English on TV?

The six-episode series begins tonight (Thursday, 10 November) at 9pm on BBC Two.

It continues weekly at the same time and is also available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

What is The English about?

Eli and Cornelia set out on a dangerous journey. (BBC)
Eli and Cornelia set out on a dangerous journey. (BBC)

Set in 1890 America, this Western follows the epic adventure of Englishwoman Lady Cornelia Locke and Native American Pawnee scout Eli Whipp who are both seeking justice in different ways.

Cornelia has come to America in search of the man she believes is responsible for her son's death and is intent on hunting him down, while Eli wants to stake a land claim in his Nebraska homeland.

Read more: The English review: Sumptuous Western drama

The pair team up and travel together on the treacherous road that brings them into conflict with dangerous characters determined to stop them from reaching their aims.

The English,1,Hugo Blick, Cornelia Locke (EMILY BLUNT), Eli Whipp (CHASKE SPENCER),Drama Republic,Diego López Calvín
Hugo Blick on set with Emily Blunt. (BBC)

Writer and director Hugo Blick said of Cornelia and Eli: "In very different ways but to equally devastating effect both have been stripped of their identities. United, each reveals strengths the other lacks but together they have a chance to avenge themselves against their loss. So much as it’s a quest for reclamation, it’s a love story."

The Western means that Blunt, as its star, is expected to do a lot of riding - something she says she relished.

The English,Character Portraits,Cornelia Locke (EMILY BLUNT),Drama Republic,Diego López Calvín
Emily Blunt does a lot of horse riding in the series. (BBC)

She said: "I’d always ridden as a kid, but not to this extent, and not with this ability. I trained for four months before we did it, and I would ride two or three times a week."

The star added: "We had the most beautiful horse master, who was like a gentle conductor and horse whisperer. The horses are so extraordinary. They’re like artists, they’re incredible. My horse, Ethos, became my little soul buddy. I was very sad to leave him. It was a beautiful relationship at the end."

Why did Emily Blunt decide to return to TV?

The English,First Look,Cornelia Locke (EMILY BLUNT),Drama Republic,Diego López Calvín
Emily Blunt stars as Lady Cornelia Locke. (BBC)

With film credits for A Quiet Place, The Devil Wears Prada, The Young Victoria and Mary Poppins Returns to her name, Blunt is an established Hollywood star who last appeared in a TV drama back in 2006.

But like many a film actor before her, she has been tempted back to the small screen for a golden age of TV and explained what had drawn her to star in and executive produce The English.

Read more: First look at Kate Winslet and daughter Mia Threapleton in I Am Ruth

She said: "I was sent the pilot and I knew it was a Western, which I’d never done before, so I was compelled to read it. I read the first page and I knew I was doing it from her first monologue. I felt completely kidnapped by this world.

"I called my agent after page two, and I said, ‘I think I’m going to be doing this show’. I was so struck by it."

Who stars with Emily Blunt in The English?

The English,First Look,Eli Whipp (CHASKE SPENCER),Drama Republic,Diego López Calvín
Chaske Spencer as Eli Whipp. (BBC)

Blunt's is not the only stand out performance in the series - she is closely matched by her co-star Chaske Spencer, who plays Eli Whipp.

Spencer said: "My own personal experience as a Native American played a lot into this character. I tried to bring that to life and to represent him as genuinely as I possibly could.

"As a Native American man, and an actor and artist, it’s pretty rare to be a lead in a project like this. I have to say I had amazing support from Hugo, Emily, the crew – it made me feel comfortable to take risks in this character."

The English,Character Portraits,David Melmont (RAFE SPALL),Drama Republic,Diego López Calvín
Rafe Spall plays villain David Melmont. (BBC)

They are also joined by Rafe Spall as villain David Melmont, who accompanies an English aristocrat on a land recce.

Spall said: "My character commits an atrocity as part of a massacre, where 100 Native American women and children and defenceless people are murdered. He is truly bad to the bone, but at the same time, I’m still playing a human being – no matter how bad they are. It gives you a big launching pad to be very creative."

Also starring are Stephen Rea as Sheriff Robert Marshall, Valerie Pachner as rancher Martha Myers, and Tom Hughes as aristocrat Thomas Trafford.

The English begins tonight at 9pm on BBC Two.

Watch: See the trailer for The English