Back in May, word broke that House Of Cards creator Beau Willimon was working on a very different sort of show, this one set in the science fiction realm. As with Kevin Spacey in Cards, he's scored some award-winning talent to star, this time Sean Penn.

The show focuses on the challenges of humanity's first tentative steps towards interplanetary colonisation and the dangers the brave souls face on Mars. "Itís a story about the human spirit," Willimon has said of the show. "About our indomitable need to reach for unknown horizons. About people working toward the greatest pioneering achievement in human history. And about the cost of that vision, the danger and sacrifice Ė emotional, psychological, and physical Ė thatís required to achieve it. How ordinary, imperfect people band together and overcome a myriad of obstacles to grasp the extraordinary."

While Penn's role has not been officially disclosed, Penn's character, reportedly named Tom Haggerty, could be a former NASA astronaut involved in the project. "I have such deep admiration for Seanís immense talent and extraordinary body of work," enthuses Willimon. "I feel very lucky to be collaborating with an artist of his caliber."

The First will be a collaboration between US streaming service Hulu (which recently hit it big on the awards front with The Handmaid's Tale) and Channel 4, with the show aiming to debut on both next year.