BBC Worldwide Teams With Poland's TVP, Apple Film Production for World War I Drama

Ben Stephenson

Written by British award-winning scribe Tony Jordan ("Life on Mars"), the five-part epic drama "The Passing Bells" tells the story of the great war through the eyes of two ordinary young men who enlist to fight.

LONDON – BBC Worldwide, the U.K. public broadcaster's commercial arm, has agreed on a co-production deal with TVP and Apple Film Production in Poland for a major new World War I drama, The Passing Bells.

Created by award-winning writer Tony Jordan (Life on Mars) and U.K. banner Red Planet Pictures, and shooting in Poland, The Passing Bells tells the story of WWI through the eyes of two very ordinary young men who enlist in a war they expect will be over within months. As the conflict unfolds, so do the boys’ stories as they grow up amid the horror of war, and find love.

Jordan, executive producer and managing director of Red Planet Pictures, said: "This is a hugely important project for British television in this, the centenary of the First World War, a conflict that shaped Europe as we know it today. It was always going to be vital to find a meaningful European partner for this project and working with TVP is something Red Planet is very excited about."

The deal with TVP was brokered by BBC Worldwide and Apple Film Production in Poland.

Apple Film Production founder and president Dariusz Jabłonski will act as the Polish co-producer on the series for TVP while BBC Worldwide will hawk the drama to global buyers.

It marks the second collaboration between BBC Worldwide and TVP and Apple Film Production, following the parties' co-production of the critically acclaimed thriller Spies of Warsaw last year. 

Talking about the latest show TVP1 director Piotr Radziszewski said the large-scale project indicates "a shared ambition to create bold, compelling drama that will resonate with audiences not only in the U.K. and Poland but all around the world,” for the parties.

Jabłonski said: "The fantastic script by the one and only Tony Jordan brings a unique opportunity for the Polish film industry to work with Europe's best professionals. We are proud to work on this highly prestigious European project, commemorating the centenary of the Great War, which, above all, brought Poland's independence back."

The Passing Bells is produced by Jordan’s Red Planet Pictures through BBC Cymru Wales Drama.

Commissioned by BBC Drama controller Ben Stephenson and Danny Cohen, director of television, BBC, The Passing Bells aims to sit front and center of BBC One’s programming to mark the centenary of World War One and will appear on Poland’s national broadcaster (TVP) in November 2014, to coincide with celebrations to mark the rebirth of the Polish nation at the end of World War I.

The deal was announced by BBC Worldwide at its annual TV export market BBC Worldwide Showcase, which runs Feb. 23-26.