World on Fire: From Helen Hunt and Sean Bean to Jonah Hauer-King and Julia Brown - Meet the cast and characters of BBC One’s World War II drama

Lesley Manville, Blake Harrison and Zofia Wichłacz also star in Peter Bowker’s landmark new TV series, which tells the story of the Second World War through the lives of ordinary people.

With the show set across Europe and the United States, the cast of BBC One’s epic new World War II drama World on Fire is truly international.

Big names including Helen Hunt, Lesley Manville and Sean Bean appear alongside British stars Blake Harrison, Jonah Hauer-King and Julia Brown, and award-winning Polish actors including Zofia Wichłacz.

Created by multi-award winning writer Peter Bowker (The A Word, Eric and Ernie), World on Fire is an emotionally gripping drama that tells the story of World War II through the lives of ordinary people caught up in the conflict.

Ahead of the show's release on BBC One in autumn 2019, we reveal everything we know so far about the cast and characters of World on Fire.

BT TV customers can watch World on Fire when it starts on BBC One this autumn. Never miss an episode with the BBC iPlayer app - under Players & Apps on BT TV.

> How to use catch-up and on demand like BBC iPlayer on BT TV

Helen Hunt as Nancy Campbell


World on Fire stars Academy Award-winner Helen Hunt (As Good As It Gets, Mad About You) as Nancy Campbell, a US war correspondent who can’t find peace unless her life is at risk.

According to The Guardian, Hunt’s character is a victim of sexual violence, loosely based on the trailblazing British journalist Clare Hollingworth, who broke the news of the outbreak of the Second World War.

Of her female war correspondent character in the series, Hunt told the interviewer: “I remember feeling that Campbell was contemporary. She’s ahead of everybody in the story and knows what’s coming before other people do. It all seemed very immediate to me, and relevant.”

Lesley Manville as Robina Chase

lesley manville

Academy Award-nominated and Olivier Award-winning actress Lesley Manville (Mum, Phantom Thread) plays Robina Chase in World on Fire. Her character details have not yet been revealed, but it looks from the trailer that she is the mother of Harry Chase (Jonah Hauer-King) - they also share the same surname on the show's IMDB page. 

Sean Bean as Douglas Bennett

sean bean

Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones actor Sean Bean is also part of the cast. He plays Mancunian Douglas Bennett, who from the trailer we know is the father of Lois Bennett (played by Julia Brown).

Of joining the cast, Bean said: “I am thrilled to be part of this ambitious drama. Peter Bowker’s study of the human stories that thread through this huge global conflict is fascinating and something I look forward to being part of on screen.”

Jonah Hauer-King as Harry Chase


Rising British star Jonah Hauer-King (Little Women, Howard’s End) is one of the show’s stars, playing young English translator Harry Chase - son of Robina Chase (Nancy Campbell). He’s caught up in negotiations with the Nazis in Warsaw and trying to smuggle his Polish lover Kasia (played by Zofia Wichlacz) out of the country, while caught up with Lois Bennett (Julia Brown) at home.

Julia Brown as Lois Bennett

julia brown

Another rising British actor, Julia Brown (The Last Kingdom, Shetland), is one of the show’s young stars. She plays Lois Bennett, a young Mancunian factory worker who is waiting for Harry (Jonah Hauer-King) at home and who takes all the opportunities the war can offer her to live a different kind of life. From the trailer we also know she is close to Connie (Yrsa Daley-Ward).

Zofia Wichłacz as Kasia Tomaszeski


Zofia Wichłacz (Warsaw 44, Amok) is an award-winning actress in her native Poland. She plays Polish waitress Kasia Tomaszeski, who gets involved with Harry (Jonah Hauer-King), who tries to smuggle her out of the country.

Blake Harrison as Stan


Comedy fans will instantly recognise Blake Harrison from his recurring role as Neil in The Inbetweeners and its two spin-off movies, as well as his recent role in award-winning series A Very English Scandal. He plays Stan, and while details of his character have yet to be revealed, from the trailer we know he’s a soldier.

Yrsa Daley-Ward as Connie


British talent Yrsa Daley-Ward is known mainly for her spoken-word poetry and for her debut book, Bone. Her character is called Connie, and we see her with Lois (Julia Brown) in the trailer, so we suspect they are friends.

Parker Sawyers as Albert


American actor Parker Sawyers is perhaps best known for starring as a young Barack Obama in Southside With You. In World on Fire he plays Albert, whose character details have yet to be revealed.

Also in the stellar cast is Ewan Mitchell (The Last Kingdom), Brian J. Smith (Sense8), Tomasz Kot (Gods, Cold War),  Bruno Alexander (Eden, Der Verlorene Bruder), Johannes Zeiler (Faust, Codename Holec) and Eugénie Derouand (Genius, Beatrice).

World on Fire is coming to BBC One and BBC iPlayer in autumn 2019.

> New to BT? Learn more and get BT TV today

> Got BT Broadband? Add BT TV

> Got BT TV? Explore the BT Player

Images: Rex Features / BBC

Exclusives and Behind the Scenes

More from BT