Sean Bean as Douglas Bennett in a scene from World on Fire.
Sean Bean as Douglas Bennett in a scene from World on Fire.

Sean Bean returns to TV in 'World on Fire'

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Oct 15, 2020

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If you are partial to war dramas, “World on Fire” is a must-see.

The star-studded offering with Sean Bean, Helen Hunt, Lesley Manville as well as Jonah Hauer-King, has been given the green-light for a second season.

Set in 1939, on the eve of Poland’s invasion by Germany, the series follows the interwoven stories of several individuals who are impacted by this catastrophic event.

Bean, who is one of TV’s most killed off characters lest we not forget his beheading at the outset of “Game of Thrones”, is cast as Douglas Bennet.

The drama takes viewers through several different locations in France, Britain, Germany and Poland.

In shedding light on his character, Bean revealed: “Douglas was involved in the First World War and was so mentally damaged by shell shock that it has an influence on how he viewed everything to do with the Second World War.

“He doesn’t believe in war as a means of achieving objectives. He thinks there should be negotiation and people should be trying to communicate.

“At this point, no one is aware of the impact that this second war is going to make on the world but from his experience of the First World War he always wondered what it was all for.

“The people who fought were cannon fodder with no real understanding of why they were fighting.

“For Douglas it was a futile war leaving him mentally scarred and suffering from flashbacks, anxiety, insecurity and a slight leaning towards madness.”

He added: “Imagine being in a closed-knit community and people turn their back on you.

“Shopkeepers don't want to serve you in shops and shout at you in the street and call you this and that.

“I would imagine you have to be pretty determined and principled to stick to your beliefs in the face of popular opinion.

“So that was interesting and just the fact that Douglas is physically and mentally not very well wasn’t really understood, certainly not in the wake of the First World War; shellshock was just frowned upon.

“Today’s soldiers have a diagnosis now in PTSD and we can see how it works on the brain and how these people suffered in silence.

“It’s a difficult one. It’s a difficult illness to talk about especially during the Second World War so for Douglas to actually stand up and say, ‘I don't believe in it’, was a really, big and brave statement.”

Battle scene from “World on Fire”. Picture: Supplied

Aside from the demons he battles with, he is also a father to Tom and Lois.

He added: “Lois is the backbone of the family and is a strong-willed woman.

“She runs the everyday life of the family leaving Tom and Douglas to just sit about the kitchen and wait for her to make cups of tea and feed them.

“They’re working class men and are very down-to-earth. Douglas’ wife died years ago so he’s brought the children up on his own.

“He’s been trying to keep it together, but he’s weak and he’s depressed from the First World War and he’s nervous and unsure about the future.

“It’s difficult for him to relate to his children at times and it’s difficult for them to know how to treat him without robbing him of his dignity or his independence.”

In the series, Douglas, working as a bus driver for the working class, strikes up an unlikely friendship with Robina.

Bean explained: “She’s a very gentrified lady of the manor, as it were.

“They’re thrown together because of their children’s relationship. I think that’s quite an interesting friendship that emerges between them.

“Some people are thrown together, who would never otherwise meet, but Robina recognises that Douglas is an intelligent man and has a warmth of personality that she finds both alien and interesting to her.”

In the series, Douglas is confronted by his worst nightmare - his children are enlisted to serve their country.

“World on Fire” airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Thursdays at 10.30pm. It’s also on Showmax. And the series will also run on M-Net City (DStv channel 115) from November 5.

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