Niamh Walsh and Sam Keeley to star in new Netflix TV drama from creator of Downton Abbey

Niamh Walsh is set to star in a new drama from the creator of Downton Abbey about the origins of soccer.

The Wicklow actress and Offaly actor Sam Keeley will appear in Netflix production The English Game.

Shooting has begun on the six-part drama, which charts the birth of the world’s most popular game.

It retraces how those involved in its creation reached across the class divide to establish soccer as the most popular sport in the late 19th century.

It will tell how modern football came from a joining together of Etonians and factory workers to create a sport now played by 250 million in more than 200 countries.

The series, written and produced by Julian Fellowes, also features Line Of Duty’s Craig Parkinson, Game of Thrones actress Charlotte Hope and Kingsman actor Edward Holcroft.

It will be directed by Happy Valley’s Tim Fywell and Birgitte Staermose.

The first season is scheduled to kick off on Netflix next year.

Walsh is best-known as the feisty red-headed barmaid from Sky period series Jamestown.

That too was created by the team behind Downton.

Set in 1619, Jamestown focused on the arrival of a group of women at an English colony in the New World. They had been shipped out as “maids to make wives” for male workers who had made the journey 12 years earlier.

Walsh, who has spent much of her life living in Malaysia, received critical acclaim for the role.

She had previously been seen on the small screen in Holby City and Jekyll And Hyde.

Keeley shot to fame with his role in the home-grown film The Other Side Of Sleep, which was released in 2012.

Since then he has starred alongside Eve Hewson and Sean Penn in the movie This Must Be The Place, which was shot on location in Dublin.

He has also featured alongside Jamie Dornan in the Irish UN peacekeeping story, The Siege of Jadotville.

The English Game is the latest project from Fellowes, who also wrote for the period hits Gosford Park and Belgravia.

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