Epic World War II Drama 'World on Fire' Coming to Masterpiece

Zofia Wichlaz as Kasia Tomaszeski and Jonah Hauer-King as Harry Chase (© Mammoth Screen)

At this year's Television Critics Association summer press tour, PBS confirmed that the upcoming BBC series World On Fire is coming to Masterpiece.

Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton announced that PBS has negotiated a deal with BBC One and Mammoth Screen to bring the World War II epic to public television. The partnership might seem like a no brainer. But, with streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and premium cable channels like HBO snatching up much of the content which was once the sole providence of PBS, these victories should be celebrated.

First announced back in October of 2018, World on Fire is a seven-hour miniseries. It focuses on the first year of World War II, spanning the European continent from Britain to Germany and across the pond to the United States. At the time of the original announcement, Helen Hunt (Mad About You) was the biggest name attached to the series. Since then, Sean Bean (Game of Thrones) has also been added to the above-the-fold credits. They are joined by the great Lesley Manville (Harlots, Little Women) and Blake Harrison (Prime Suspect: Tennison). 

Photos of the characters were released along with the announcement:

Helen Hunt as Nancy Campbell (© Mammoth Screen)
Sean Bean as  Douglas Bennett (© Mammoth Screen)
Lesley Manville as Robina Chase (© Mammoth Screen)
Jonah Hauer-King as Harry Chase (© Mammoth Screen)

Here's the synopsis for the series, as quoted from the press release:

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.

Damien Timmer, Mammoth Screen Managing Director, was delighted to be working with Masterpiece to bring this series to the US.

We’re thrilled by the talent and breadth of the incredible cast and production team that have come together to tell this extraordinary story. A drama that pieces together World War II with Pete Bowker’s characteristic irreverence and humanity, tracing 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.

The series will not be helmed by a single director but passed between four artists. There's Adam Smith (Doctor Who) is directing episodes one and two, Thomas Napper (Anna Karenina) is directing episode three, Chanya Button (Vita & Virginia) is is directing episodes five and six, and Andy Wilson (Unforgotten) is directing episodes four and seven. 

No premiere date has been set yet for World on Fire. But then again there's no date for it to air in the UK either yet.

Still, fans can hope it turns up sometime in the 2019-2020 TV season. The press release currently lists it along with the other Mammoth Screen offerings on tap for the coming year on PBS, including Poldark Series 5, Endeavour Series 7, and Victoria, as well as project expected to come in 2020 to be aired over here on streaming services, including The Pale Horse, Noughts and Crosses, and The Serpent.