British actor Jamie Bell is swapping Hollywood for the small screen after signing up to star in a new period drama.

The Billy Elliot star has been cast as the lead in Turn, about 18th century New York farmer Abe Woodhull, who joins forces with his childhood friends to form an unlikely group of spies which proves instrumental in America's fight for independence.

The role is Bell's first major small screen project.

The series, written by Bones and Nikita producer Craig Silverstein, is based on Alexander Rose's book Washington's Spies, reports movie news website Deadline.com.