Sprawling World War II drama World on Fire was a surprise hit for PBS Masterpiece when it first aired in the spring of 2020, boasting an impeccable cast and a welcome dedication to changing up the ways we tell stories about Europe's last great war, and focusing on the sorts of central figures (women, LGBTQ characters, and people of color) who don't often get a lot of visual real estate in war epics.
Unfortunately, the show was also one of the hardest hit by the production delays, lockdowns, and other travel restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. World on Fire was renewed for a second season over two years ago, but due to ongoing lockdowns, a filming schedule spread across multiple countries with often conflicting travel requirements, and a sizeable cast that understandably took on other projects in the meantime, filming on Season 2 is only just now finally beginning.
"The second season of World on Fire has been a long wait due to a certain pandemic and this makes the beginning of filming especially exciting," creator and writer Peter Bowker said in a statement. "It has been a real joy to pick up the story with our inspirational cast, both our established regulars and new and exciting talent who have embraced the show’s scale and ambition. How the conflict played out in North Africa is a fascinating and little-explored history and we are aiming to redress that balance with stories of struggle and friendship. Our diverse cast will continue to reflect the global nature of the conflict.”
The official synopsis describes the second season as follows.
October 1940. Lone pilots are sent to destroy German bombers prowling the skies above Manchester as the Northern Blitz begins. The true reality of war has arrived in Britain.
World on Fire Season 2 will take viewers from the streets of Britain into occupied France, Nazi Germany, and to the sands of the North African desert, where British troops struggle alongside Indian Sappers and Australian Diggers to adapt to a very different kind of combat.
Happily, many familiar faces from the series' first outing will return for Season 2, including Lesley Manville (Magpie Murders) as Robina, Jonah Hauer-King (Little Women) as Harry, Julia Brown (Shetland) as Lois, and Zofia Wichlacz (Warsaw 44) as Kasia, with Blake Harrison (The Great) as Stan, Eugénie Derouand (Paris Police 1900) as Henriette, Eryk Biedunkiewicz as Jan, and Cel Spellman (Cold Feet) as Joe.
“It’s wonderful to be bringing Peter Bowker’s epic scripts to life again," Manville said. "Rich characters telling great, human stories set against the backdrop of World War II. It’s a feast!”
Unfortunately, however, at this moment it doesn't look as though Season 1 stars Arthur Darvill (Broadchurch), Helen Hunt (Blindspotting), or Sean Bean (Time) will be returning for this second installment. (Never say never, of course, but the fact that they aren't included in this filming announcement is reason enough to doubt their involvement. If Bean was confirmed, someone would say so..) How the show will handle the fact that these three characters were involved in fairly significant ongoing storylines is anyone's guess at this point, so we'll have to wait and see on that front.
On the plus side, a handful of new characters have been cast, including Mark Bonnar (Guilt) as Sir James Danemere, Ahad Raza Mir (Resident Evil) as Rajib, and Gregg Sulkin (Marvel's Runaways) as David. Further casting is said to be announced in due course.