War is horrific, but hard to make shocking on a small screen these days. Yet the random and rapid loss of life in World of Fire, the BBC’s hyped primetime WW2 drama, still jolts.
Writer Peter Bowker (Blackpool) focuses on life in Warsaw, Berlin and Paris in the first years of the war. Three A-listers spearhead an otherwise largely underwhelming cast. Lesley Manville oozes class playing an uptight lonely woman of means, Sean Bean is convincing as a PTSD-suffering pacifist father, while Helen Hunt’s steely journalist will hopefully play a larger role in the next series. Unfortunately, most of the characters (Manville and Hunt’s are the exception) steadily become more one-dimensional over time.
Ultimately, World on Fire is caught between a nice Sunday evening drama with its familiar tropes, and something altogether more meaningful where ideas of loss, grief and coping are thoughtfully played out. The cliffhanger ending was ridiculous, however, but I’ll still tune in to the second series. 7/10