Eleanor Tomlinson has said her characters need to be more than just damsels in distress.

She believes some of her projects are already outdated and would not be made now due to “helpless” female parts.

The Poldark actress is trying to leave her role of Demelza behind her as she tackles sci-fi in The War Of The Worlds.

Set in an Edwardian era where wives were expected to be dutiful, Tomlinson nevertheless plays a strong woman in the female-led adaptation of HG Wells’ classic novel.

Charles Finch x Chanel pre-Bafta dinner
Eleanor Tomlinson the star thinks some of her work is already outdated. (Isabel Infantes/PA)

The actress believes that female roles need to have more depth than was previously acceptable on screen, and must do more than wait for rescue from male leads.

She said: “I think nowadays even jobs that I’ve done, I think you would struggle to make now having the women be so helpless – unless they’re historical, that’s a different thing.

“I think you need women to be able to have a personality other than to just be the damsel in distress, it’s important.”

Tomlinson stars in the new BBC adaption of the novel, which sees a woman take a lead role as Earth is invaded by aliens, in a change from the original.

The actress has been hands-on in her approach to the action and adventure in the part, and is happy to launch into a new challenge, although she is grateful that people know and appreciate her role of Demelza in Poldark.

She said: “I’m trying my best to force it to change. I’m trying to get as many different roles as I can under my belt, different characters, different periods.

“I don’t want to be pigeonholed.

“I am so flattered to be known as Demelza and that’s so wonderful, I’m so grateful for it, and I love that fact that I have that behind me and I can walk into a room and people may have seen it.”

Tomlinson stars alongside Rafe Spall, Robert Carlyle and Rupert Graves in the upcoming BBC adaptation.

She became star-struck on set around Trainspotting star Carlyle, saying: “I was really nervous, I’m such a fan, but I just loved him. He’s just so nice and such a brilliant actor.”

The War Of The Worlds begins Sunday November 17 at 9pm on BBC One. The series is three episodes long.