‘World on Fire’: How To Stream PBS’s New WWII Drama Series With Helen Hunt

The title of the new PBS Masterpiece series World on Fire seems oddly appropriate. As people around the world battle the coronavirus, the network is getting ready to unveil a drama about how people in four different countries responded to a different global crisis that happened 80 years ago: World War II. 

The seven-part series — originally broadcast on the BBC in the U.K. in 2019 — follows ordinary people in Britain, Poland, France, and Germany in 1939 and 1940, as they confront the effects of war on their lives. It premieres Sunday, April 5, at 9/8c on PBS.

Helen Hunt, Sean Bean star in ‘World on Fire’ 

Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt as Nancy Campbell in World on Fire | Courtesy of Mammoth Screen

World on Fire has an all-star cast including Oscar-winner Helen Hunt, Sean Bean from Game of Thrones, and Oscar-nominee Lesley Manville. 

Hunt plays an American reporter broadcasting from Warsaw and Berlin who is trying to uncover the truth about the Nazi regime. Bean is a WWI vet turned pacifist who is coping with shellshock while also trying to protect his working-class family. Manville — known for Phantom Thread — portrays an English fascist sympathizer who ends up sheltering a young refugee. 

The cast also includes Jonah Hauer-King as Manville’s son, an idealistic, upper-class British translator and army officer. He is involved with the daughter of Bean’s character (Julia Brown). But after he’s posted to Warsaw, he falls in love with a Polish resistance fighter (Zofia Wichlacz). Blake Harrison plays a stalwart English sergeant, while Brian J. Smith is an American doctor working in occupied Paris and Parker Sawyers is the jazz musician he falls for. 

The show is told from multiple perspectives

Jonah Hauer-King (as Harry Chase) and Julia Brown (as Lois Bennett)
Jonah Hauer-King as Harry Chase and Julia Brown as Lois Bennett in World on Fire | Courtesy of Ben Blackall / © Mammoth Screen 2019

World on Fire does feature some major events, like the evacuation at Dunkirk and the Nazi invasion of Poland. But the focus is on ordinary people and how the war changes their lives. 

The drama is “told from a multinational perspective,” writer Peter Bowker told PBS. “I wanted to write a drama where we invested in a Polish family, a French family, just as much as we emotionally invested in a British one. The design of the show is such that there are connections between these families scattered across the world, but sometimes only the audience knows what those connections are.”

How to stream ‘World on Fire’ 

You can watch World on Fire on PBS on Sunday nights through May 17, airing at 9/8c. If you miss the broadcast, the episodes will also be available to stream online or on the PBS Video app.

Want to binge-watch the entire series? PBS members with the Passport benefit can stream all seven episodes beginning April 5 at 9/8c. Head here for more information on how to sign up for Passport and stream new PBS dramas as well as classic shows such as Downton Abbey.

Read more: Already Binged ‘The Crown’ Season 3? Why You Should Add PBS’s ‘Victoria’ to Your To-Watch List

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