BBC One and Mammoth Screen today announced that Academy Award winner Helen Hunt (As Good As It Gets, Mad About You) will lead the cast alongside Academy Award-nominated and Olivier Award-winning actress Lesley Manville (Mum, Phantom Thread) together with rising British stars Jonah Hauer-King (Little Women, Howards End) and Julia Brown (The Last Kingdom, Shetland) in the epic drama World on Fire, from multi-award winning writer Peter Bowker (The A Word, Eric and Ernie, Occupation, Blackpool).
Also joining the cast is Polish Academy Award winner Zofia Wichłacz (Warsaw 44, Amok) and Brian J. Smith (Sense8), along with Parker Sawyers (Southside with You, The Autopsy of Jane Doe), Tomasz Kot (Gods, Cold War), Bruno Alexander (Eden, Der Verlorene Bruder), Johannes Zeiler (Faust, Codename Holec), and Eugénie Derouand (Genius, Beatrice).
World on Fire is an adrenalized, emotionally gripping and resonant drama following the first year of World War II told through the intertwining fates of ordinary people drawn from Britain, Poland, France, Germany and the United States as they grapple with the effect of the war on their everyday lives.
Filming begins this week in Prague and other filming locations include Manchester, London, Paris and Berlin. World on Fire is produced by Mammoth Screen, which is part of ITV Studios.
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.”
Damien Timmer, Mammoth Screen Managing Director, added: “We are thrilled by the incredible cast and production team that have come together to tell this extraordinary, deeply characterful and intensely adrenalized story. A drama that pieces together World War II with Pete’s characteristic irreverence and humanity, that traces 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, said: “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 Twentieth Century history. It is an honour to be working with Pete, director Adam Smith and producers Mammoth Screen as they bring this story to life”.
World on Fire will consist of seven one-hour long episodes. It is written by Peter Bowker, developed by Mammoth’s Creative Director Rebecca Keane, and executive produced by Peter Bowker, Damien Timmer and Helen Ziegler for Mammoth Screen and Lucy Richer for the BBC. The producer is Chris Clough and Adam Smith will direct episodes one, two and three.