03 October 2019, The Tablet

Lost in translation

Lost in translation

Caught in the blitzkreig in World on Fire
Photo: Mammoth Screen, Dusan Martincek


World on Fire

The aim of World on Fire, the BBC’s lavish new Sunday night drama by Bafta-winning dramatist, Peter Bowker, is to tell the stories of “ordinary people” across Europe in 1939; it is to be a drama of lives for whom the war is not always centre stage but dropping in and out of focus. But oh dear, if episode one (29 September) is anything to go by, the issue is not whether the characters are ordinary but whether they are even remotely believable. And as for the war, they never stop banging on about it, most of them only just stopping short of opining deeply that the storm clouds are gathering.

We kick off in Manchester, at a Blackshirts rally addressed by Oswald Mosley (wicked moustache alert). Our hero, Harry Chase, and his girlfriend, Lois, are in the crowd chanting anti-Fascist slogans.

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