With 3 episodes remaining in the first series of World on Fire (May 3, 10 and 17 on PBS Masterpiece), welcome news comes from PBS and the BBC that the Helen Hunt-led British World War II drama has been commissioned for a second series. Originally designed as a multi-year drama that would look at World War II through the eyes of ordinary people from all sides of the conflict, the first series followed the first year of the war, starting with the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 and ending with the Battle of Britain.
Although the news of the commissioning was both welcome and somewhat expected given both the audience and critical acclaim, it’s does come as a bit of a surprise given the fact that a previously popular series that was also designed as a multi-year drama, Sanditon, was inexplicably cancelled after the first series setting off a worldwide fan backlash with petitions circulating to breathe life back into the series. And, let’s not forget the abrupt hatchet job cancellation of Home Fires, the story of the Women’s Institute members on the Home Front during the Second World War which was in possession of having a massive cliffhanger at the end of series 2.
In World on Fire, Hunt stars as war correspondent, Nancy Campbell, alongside Sean Bean (Sharpe, Broken, Game of Thrones, Missing), Lesley Manville (Cranford, Mum , Jonah Hauer-King (Little Women), Julia Brown (The Last Kingdom), Polish Academy Award-winner Zofia Wichłacz (Warsaw 44) and Brian J. Smith (Sense8) along with Parker Sawyers (The Autopsy of Jane Doe), Tomasz Kot (Cold War), Bruno Alexander (Eden), Johannes Zeiler (Faust) and Eugénie Derouand (Genius).
While the second series commissioning of World on Fire coincided with the conclusion of the show’s first season on BBC One in late 2019, writer Peter Bowker has said he has detailed plans in his head, at least, for six series, each of which would cover a specific year of the war. Unfortunately, at this point in time, your guess is as good as mine as to when anyone will see series two. It took 2 years from the time of commissioning of series 1 to seeing it on the air. Who knows what the effect of COVID-19 will have on the actual production of series 2 but one can only guess that we won’t see before 2022 on PBS Masterpiece.