2020 Preview: ‘World On Fire’s EP Previews the Show’s Interweaving Tales

Masterpiece/© Mammoth Screen

The holiday season is over, but TV has some new gifts you’ll never want to return. Settle in for 12 months of fan-favorite stars (Fran Drescher, Edie Falco), inspiring physical feats (the Olympics), new streaming services, and another must-see season of Outlander.

Countless series about World War II have told the stories of frontline soldiers. But what about the everyday civilians who were affected? World on Fire, coming to PBS’s Masterpiece, dives into those “human stories of the war,” says executive producer Helen Ziegler. Over seven episodes, the interwoven tales of these fictional characters unfold.

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In 1939, translator Harry Chase (Jonah Hauer-King) leaves his girlfriend, Lois Bennett (Julia Brown), an aspiring singer, in the U.K. to work in Warsaw. Unbeknownst to Lois, Harry falls for a waitress (Zofia Wichłacz above, with Hauer-King) as international tensions rise. “Harry’s love for two women is both his failure and his salvation,” Ziegler says. “The love triangle is part of the beating heart of the series.”

(Credit: PBS Masterpiece)

According to Ziegler, pacifist Douglas Bennett (Sean Bean, above) feels “hugely conflicted” when son Tom (Ewan Mitchell) enlists in the military and daughter Lois joins an entertainment corps to perform for troops in northern France: “He wants to do what’s right by his children and not enforce his belief system on them.”

(Credit: PBS Masterpiece)

American journalist Nancy Campbell (Helen Hunt, above), a neighbor of Harry’s in Warsaw, “is drawn to the chaos of war and motivated by her sense of what is right,” Ziegler says. Sensing the horror coming to Europe, she encourages her Paris-based nephew Webster O’Connor (Brian J. Smith) to return to the safety of the United States.

World On Fire, Series Premiere, Sunday, April 5, 9/8c, PBS (check local listings at pbs.org)

For More of Our 2020 Preview:

8 Reboots & Spinoffs Coming to TV

‘Schitt’s Creek,’ ‘The 100’ & 7 More TV Shows Ending

‘Outmatched,’ ‘Kimmy Schmidt’ & More Laughs on the Way

6 U.S. Athletes to Watch Ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics

HBO’s ‘Perry Mason’ Is More ‘Gritty Fixer Than Polished Lawyer’