World on Fire on Masterpiece

(Rochester, NY) – Helen Hunt, Sean Bean, Lesley Manville and Jonah Hauer-King head an international cast in a gripping World War II drama hailed as “an epic war saga with a difference” (The Mail on Sunday, London). Following the lives of ordinary people coping with the greatest war in human history, World on Fire on Masterpiece, a seven-part series, airs Sundays, April 5 - May 17, 2020 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

Originally broadcast in the UK during fall 2019 for the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II, World on Fire was praised as a fresh approach to the conflict: “a beautifully;turned ensemble piece ... far from standard wartime fare,” wrote The Guardian (London);“a striking, witty wartime drama that feels startlingly new,” concurred iNews (London);“it’s not just the bombs that shake you to the core,” declared The Telegraph (London), “it’s the emotions, too.” Academy Award®-winner Helen Hunt (As Good As it Gets, Mad About You) stars as an American broadcaster reporting from Warsaw and Berlin as fighting erupts. Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Sharpe) plays a World War I veteran-turned-pacifist trying to cope with chronic shellshock while looking after his working-class family. And Academy Award®-nominee Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread) is a British fascist sympathizer who finds herself sheltering a young refugee.

Also starring are Jonah Hauer-King (Little Women on MASTERPIECE, the upcoming liveaction film of The Little Mermaid) as an idealistic British translator and army officer, Blake Harrison (A Very English Scandal) as a stalwart English sergeant, Julia Brown (Shetland) as a feisty armed services entertainer, Zofia Wichłacz (The Romanoffs) as a Polish resistance fighter, Brian J. Smith (Sense8) as an American doctor in occupied Paris, and Parker Sawyers (Southside with You) as a Parisian jazz musician.

Set in Britain, Poland, France, and Germany—on the frontlines and the home front—World on Fire traces the interweaved fates of several families in 1939 and 1940, from the Nazi invasion of Poland, to the near debacle at Dunkirk, to the fall of Paris and beyond.

In Manchester, England, Douglas Bennett is fighting a losing battle for pacifism as his country spirals into war. His lawbreaking son, Tom, is given the choice of prison or the military. His daughter, Lois, is a factory worker and talented singer, involved in a romance with upper class translator Harry Chase —much to the dismay of Harry’s aloof mother, Robina.

Posted to the British embassy in Warsaw, Harry forgets Lois when he falls in love with local waitress Kasia Tomaszeski, becoming close to her family, including her studious little brother, Jan. Harry also befriends Nancy Campbell, an American radio reporter trying to uncover the truth about the Nazi regime. She gives Harry a momentous piece of advice as Nazi troops converge on the city.

Meanwhile, Nancy's nephew Webster O’Connor is pursuing his career in Europe as it plunges into chaos. Webster is a doctor at the American hospital in Paris, in love with the nightlife and attracted to a good-looking saxophone player named Albert.

All over Europe, no one can quite believe that their normal lives, their everyday pleasures and worries, are about to be demolished. World War II encompassed millions of people and millions of individuals' stories. World on Fire makes this wholesale tragedy achingly personal and, at times, heroic.

Pictured: Helen Hunt (as Nancy Campbell)
 Courtesy of Gareth Gatrell / © Mammoth Screen 2019



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