The Dig on Netflix – release date, cast, plot and everything you need to know

Carey Mulligan The Dig
(Image credit: LARRY HORRICKS/NETFLIX © 2021 )

The Dig will see Ralph Fiennes lead an all-star cast...

The Dig, Netflix's much-anticipated new film, is heading to our screens this January and stars acclaimed British actors Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan.

The three-part drama will see an all-star cast and tell the story of the discovery of an Anglo-Saxon burial ship at Sutton Hoo in 1939

Here's everything you need to know about the new film…

Ralph Fiennes The Dig

Ralph Fiennes stars as Basil Brown in this historical film (Image credit: Netflix)

The Dig on Netflix release date – when will it air?

The film received a limited cinema release on Friday 15 January and will come to Netflix on Friday 29 January.

What's the plot?

Set in the summer of 1939, as he world teetered on the brink of war, The Dig follows self-taught archaeologist Basil Brown as he excavates an ancient mound on the Suffolk estate of aristocratic widow, Edith Pretty.

The pair are overjoyed when Basil unearths a 7th century burial ship, thought to be the grave of King Raedwald of East Anglia. Yet news of their find soon led to scholars from The British Museum, led by Charles Phillips, trying to take over the site.

Carey Mulligan Ralph Fiennes The Dig

Carey Mulligan was aged up to play aristocratic widow, Edith Pretty, in The Dig.

Edith Pretty insisted that Basil be allowed to stay and help with their work and the team uncovered a host of treasures including precious jewelry, a sword and an iconic helmet.

The discovery remains one of the most important ever made on British soil and completely changed how scholars viewed the Dark Ages.

A special bond of mutual respect grew between Mrs Pretty and Basil during the project, but they weren't the only ones to make a connection and a love story also emerges between married archaeologist Peggy Piggott and Edith's cousin, Rory Lomax...

Who’s in the cast of The Dig?

Based on the 2007 novel by John Preston, the film boasts an all-star cast, which is lead by Ralph Fiennes (Schindler's List and the Harry Potter film series) and Carey Mulligan (Collateral and The Great Gatsby).

Ken Stott (The Hobbit film series) plays the leader of the British Museum archaeology team, Charles Phillips, while Downton Abbey star Lily James plays keen excavator Peggy Piggott.

Lily James The Dig

Lily James plays Peggy Piggott in this drama set in the summer of 1939. (Image credit: Netflix)

Ben Chaplin (Apple Tree Yard) takes on the role of Peggy's husband Stuart Piggott and Johnny Flynn (Stardust and Vanity Fair) plays Edith's cousin Rory Lomax, who arrives on the estate to help with the dig.

Monica Dolan (W1A) completes the cast as Basil's wife, May Brown.

Is there a trailer?

Yes, there is. And it looks brilliant.

What else do we know about the film?

Some of the geographical context shots were filmed on the Suffolk coast near the burial site at Sutton Hoo, but most of the film was made in Shackleton, Surrey.

The Dig comes to Netflix on Friday 29 January

Sean Marland
Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV, TV & Satellite Week and

Sean has been writing about all things telly for over 10 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are The Great British Bake-Off, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.