Since November 2023, when Hotel Portofino, World on Fire, and Annika concluded their second seasons, fans have been writing to us at Telly Visions, asking where the third season renewals are for the latter two shows. Hotel Portofino was renewed for Season 3 long before Season 2 aired in the U.S., but there was no word from Masterpiece about a new season for either World on Fire or Annika, which made fans nervous. And now the worst news has been delivered: World on Fire is canceled and will not return for a third season.
World on Fire was a profoundly ambitious series, with a plan for five seasons covering from 1939 to 1944. It was, in many ways, a victim of the pandemic. The first season is a globe-trotting look at World War II, told from the point of view of those who never get centered in the kinds of stories: women, people of color, LGBTQ+, and the traumatized. Even the "traditional white cismale hero character," Harry, was a reversal of the trope, as the utterly incompetent fool who fails upward.
However, filming across continents meant that its production was shut down far longer than most between Seasons 1 and 2, and in the interim, it lost its marquee stars, Sean Bean and Helen Hunt. While the show tried to find ways to mitigate the losses and, in some places, arguably upgraded (the Egypt-set storyline was especially affecting), it wasn't enough to overcome the four-year gap between airing Seasons 1 and 2. The BBC has decided to walk away from the series, and Masterpiece has accepted the decision.
Executive producer Susanne Simpson broke the news of World on Fire's end at the Masterpiece panel at the Television Critic's Association 2024 Winter Press tour in response to Telly Vision's query about the fate of both it and Annika, as well as Miss Scarlet & the Duke and All Creatures Great & Small, neither of which have confirmed Season 5. (Reader, I made an agitated and probably-not-very-professional noise in response.)
However, when it came to the other shows, Simpson was more cryptic, telling the assembled Reporters Who Cover Television to "watch their inboxes" regarding the fates of Miss Scarlet and All Creatures. She also notably did not say Annika was canceled, putting it in the "watch your inbox" category of shows. Considering Annika's Season 2 finale ended on a massive cliffhanger, the lack of a Season 3 renewal has been distressing. (Jamie Sivies getting cast in Netflix's new Department Q has compounded concerns over the show's return.) Fans have held on to hope at the lack of cancelation, but let us not forget Victoria still isn't canceled either. (Just saying!)
So even though a third season of World on Fire is not in the cards, fans of Annika can take heart. Masterpiece seems to be planning to bring us Season 3, at least, eventually. And maybe there will be word soon for Miss Scarlet and All Creatures Season 5, too.