Peter Bowker’s “adrenalised, emotionally gripping and resonant” new BBC drama World on Fire will follow the “intertwining fates” of ordinary people from Britain, Poland, France and Germany during the first year of the Second World War as this global conflict completely upends their lives.


Oscar-winning actress Helen Hunt stars alongside Sean Bean, Lesley Manville and rising stars Jonah Hauer-King and Julia Brown in the seven-part drama - meet the full cast of World on Fire here.

Here’s what you need to know…

When is World on Fire on TV?

World on Fire aired in the UK in autumn 2019 on BBC One.

World in Fire starts on PBS Masterpiece in the US on Sunday 4th April 2021 at 10/9c and episodes air weekly.

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The drama was announced in 2017 and production began in September 2018, with filming locations including Prague, Manchester and Paris.

Is there a trailer for World on Fire?

Yes! In August 2019, the BBC released this trailer:

What is World on Fire about?

World on Fire

Screenwriter Peter Bowker said: “World on Fire tells the hidden human stories within the big historical events we think we know.

"From Harry, a young English translator in Warsaw caught up in negotiations with the Nazis and trying to smuggle his Polish lover Kasia out of the country, to Lois, the girl who is waiting for him at home, a young Mancunian factory worker who will come to take all the opportunities the war can offer to live a different kind of life. To Nancy, a female US war correspondent who can’t find peace unless her life is at risk, to the Rossler family in Berlin, worried for their soldier son and willing to do anything to protect their disabled daughter from the attentions of the ruling Nazi regime.

“These are the stories of the ordinary people who shaped our world. Stories of loyalty and brutality, courage and fear, hopes, stories of love and loss, hopes and dreams forged in extraordinary times."

The seven-part drama is set during the first year of World War Two and is written by Peter Bowker, known for autism drama The A Word, TV movie Eric & Ernie, and BBC series Capital.

Damien Timmer, Managing Director of production company Mammoth Screen, said the drama would trace "the connections between allies and enemies, and the huge battles we thought we knew. From the siege of Warsaw, to Dunkirk, the fall of Paris and the battle of Britain, here is an epic story told on a human scale, with a truly international cast."

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, added: “Pete’s funny, humane and poignant writing gives us a perspective on those early days of the Second World War which we have never seen before. Spanning four nations, the canvas for the drama is vast, but the experience Pete gives us is boots on the ground granting us special insight into one of the most pivotal and seismic moments in 20th century history."

Who is in the cast of World on Fire?

Helen Hunt (Getty)

Helen Hunt leads the cast, though details of her character have yet to be announced. The actress starred in the sitcom Mad About You and won an Oscar for her role in 1997's As Good as It Gets, with other credits including The Sessions, Twister, and Shots Fired.

In November 2018, the show gained another high-profile actor: Sean Bean, star of Broken, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. He said: “I am thrilled to be part of this ambitious drama. Peter Bowker’s study of the human stories that thread through this huge global conflict is fascinating and something I look forward to being part of on screen."

The cast also includes Blake Harrison (of A Very English Scandal and The Inbetweeners) and Lesley Manville (of Mum and Phantom Thread).

Sean Bean
Sean Bean (Getty) Getty Images

Rising British stars Jonah Hauer-King (Little Women) and Julia Brown (Shetland) will be central to the drama, while other additions to the cast include Polish Academy Award-winner Zofia Wichłacz and Brian J. Smith (Sense8) along with Parker Sawyers, Tomasz Kot, Bruno Alexander, Johannes Zeiler and Eugénie Derouand.

Further cast includes poet and actor Yrsa Daley-Ward, The Long Song's Ansu Kabia, and Ewan Mitchell (The Last Kingdom).


If you'd like more, why not meet the full cast of World on Fire, find out where World on Fire was filmed and whether World on Fire is based on a true story.

World in Fire starts on PBS Masterpiece in the US on Sunday 4th April 2021 at 10/9c and episodes air weekly