‘World on Fire’ reviews round-up: ‘Ambitious’ second season is ‘totally gripping’

World on Fire finally returned last night!

Four years after Season 1 launched in 2019, the show’s second season picks up the story in 1941, and the true reality of war has arrived in Britain.

With RAF pilots being sent to destroy German bombers prowling the skies above Manchester, rescue operations are underway on the streets below.

Reprising their roles from Season 1 are Lesley Manville (The Crown), Jonah Hauer-King (The Little Mermaid), Blake Harrison (A Very English Scandal), Julia Brown (Shetland), Zofia Wichłacz (Spoor), Parker Sawyers (A Discovery of Witches), and Eugénie Derouand (Paris Police).

They’re joined by new cast members Mark Bonnar (Guilt), Ahad Raza Mir (Resident Evil), Miriam Schiweck (Der Staatsanwalk), and Gregg Sulkin (Runaways).

The official synopsis reads: “Telling the story of World War Two through the eyes of ordinary people, following intrepid young heroes fighting for freedom, World on Fire series two will take viewers from the war-torn streets of Britain deep into Nazi Germany, the resistance within occupied France, and the brutal sands of the North African desert – where troops struggle to adapt to a very different kind of combat.”

The new season is now airing in the UK on Sunday nights at 9pm on BBC One and streaming on BBC iPlayer.

We’ve rounded up a spoiler-free selection of reviews to help you decide if you’d like to watch:


“The long-overdue return of proper Sunday night drama.” – Independent.ie


“This epic second world war drama is totally gripping … This hugely ambitious attempt to show the war through the lives of ordinary people has an immaculate grasp of tension and character. To watch is to be fully invested in these peoples’ fate.” ★★★★ – The Guardian


“In the wrong hands, World on Fire could well be very boring – the Second World War is not exactly new narrative territory. But Bowker makes both the grand narratives and the minutiae equally vivid and stirring, and it becomes impossible not to be enraptured by at least one of them.” ★★★★ – iNews


“Sprawling and ambitious wartime series is hard work.” – ★★★ – The Times


“In its distancing from endlessly depicted battles, from well-established victories and defeats, from direct collisions with Churchill or Hitler, World on Fire is tangible enough to burn at the touch.

“The escalating fears of another world war via Ukraine and the tide of far-right populism only spread the drama’s flames into your living room. This isn’t fabricated, indulgent jingoism: this is the real world on fire.” ★★★★★ – Culture Whisper


“The Second World War drama returns with new angles on the conflict that are more interesting than the soapy love triangle back home.” – The Telegraph


“…if you were a big fan of the first season or are an avid connoisseur of World War Two dramas, then you’ll still almost certainly find a lot to like here, not least in the immersive nature of the piece.” – Radio Times


Season 2 begins in the US this autumn on Masterpiece on PBS.

World on Fire is available to watch on PBS Masterpiece.