Helen Hunt to star in Peter Bowker’s World War II drama

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by Stephen Chapman

The cast has been announced for World On Fire, a landmark World War II drama from Stockport scriptwriter, Peter Bowker.

Helen Hunt will play the lead, alongside Oscar-nominated Lesley Manville (Mum, Phantom Thread), supported by Jonah Hauer-King (Little Women, Howard’s End) and Julia Brown (The Last Kingdom, Shetland).

The drama is about the first year of World War II, told through the eyes of ordinary people from Britain, Poland, France, Germany and the United States.

“World On Fire tells the hidden human stories within the big historical events we think we know,” explained Bowker, who’s also penned The A Word, Eric and Ernie, Occupation and Blackpool.

“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 US 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. 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."

Filming begins this week in Prague and then moves to Manchester, London, Paris and Berlin.

“Pete’s funny, humane and poignant writing gives us a perspective on those early days of the Second World War which we have never seen before,” added Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama.

“Spanning four nations, the canvas for the drama is vast, but the experience Pete gives us is boots on the ground granting us special insight into one of the most pivotal and seismic moments in Twentieth Century history. It is an honour to be working with Pete, director Adam Smith and producers Mammoth Screen as they bring this story to life”.

The 7x60 minute series is produced by Mammoth Screen, which is part of ITV Studios and will be aired on BBC One.