Helen Hunt to Lead BBC WWII Drama 'World on Fire'

Lesley Manville will also star in the series from Mammoth Screen and 'The A Word' writer Peter Bowker.
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Helen Hunt

Oscar winner Helen Hunt is set to lead the cast of the BBC's World on Fire, the upcoming epic TV drama from Peter Bowker, whose series The A Word proved a hit on the BBC and SundanceTV. 

The series — which begins shooting this week in Prague —comes from Mammoth Screen, the prolific production banner behind Poldark, Victoria and a growing slate of shows. It will also star the Academy-nominated and Olivier-winning Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread), together with rising British stars Jonah Hauer-King (Little Women, Howard’s End) and Julia Brown (The Last Kingdom, Shetland).

Also joining the stellar cast are Polish Academy Award winner Zofia WichĹ‚acz (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 Eugenie Derouand (Genius, Beatrice). Further casting is set to be announced later.

World on Fire is being billed as an adrenalized, emotionally gripping 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.

World on Fire tells the hidden human stories within the big historical events we think we know," said Bowker. "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 U.S. 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."

The award-winning writer added: "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."

Alongside Prague, filming will take place in Manchester, London, Paris and Berlin.

World on Fire is written by Bowker, developed by Mammoth’s creative director Rebecca Keane and executive produced by 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.

ITV Studios Global Entertainment will handle global distribution for World on Fire.