Life in a World On Fire – Season 2 now streaming

By Gen Terblanche30 December 2023

Life in a World On Fire – Season 2 now streaming

What is it like for ordinary people to watch reality collapse around them? World on Fire Season 2 takes us back in time to1941, to World War II. In the UK, refugees find themselves right back under fire during the Blitz. We see the blood price asked in Nazi Germany in the Lebensborn (Fount of Life) breeding programme. From the streets of occupied France, where the Nazi fist is closing around the Resistance movement, to the blazing sands of the North African desert, there is no escape from war. And there is no safety in being a civilian. 

“At the heart of these stories, amongst multiple perspectives, the single question remains – ‘If you had been there, what would you have done?’” asks World on Fire writer and creator Peter Bowker. Read on as four key characters share their answers.. 

Watch World On Fire S2 on Showmax now »

France: Albert Fou (Parker Sawyers) 

Parker Sawyers as Albert in World on Fire on Showmax

Albert Fou is a French jazz saxophonist who’s a megastar on the Parisian music scene. In Season 1 he fell in love with Dr Webster O’Connor (Brian J Smith), but he was sent to Fort de Romainville prison camp on a triple strike of being Black, a jazz musician, and French (they hadn’t found out about him being gay). Still in Romainville now, he is one of the key figures helping Resistance members to escape – in partnership with Henriette (Eugénie Derouand), a secretly Jewish nurse.  

“I think Albert finds his strength in helping others,” says Parker. “He seems to be a facilitator and concerned about other people, really. There’s a moment in the new series where he realises he has an opportunity to escape but has a real dilemma – he’s a Parisian of West African heritage and being out in the world as a gay man and a Black man in 1941 … You can see him thinking ‘You know what? It’s gonna suck everywhere.’ The decision he takes will seal his fate either way.” 

Germany: Marga Kühne (Miriam Schiweck) 

Miriam Schiweck as Marga in World on Fore on Showmax

A new character this season, 16-year-old Marga has been indoctrinated in Nazi ideology about the Aryan race since childhood as a member of the Band of German Maidens (the Hitler Youth for girls). Now she’s being asked to step up and fulfil her role in the new world that Germany is creating.  

“Lebensborn was a programme set up by the Nazis’. They wanted to increase the number of ‘racially pure’ and ‘healthy’ Aryan people – tall, strong, with blonde hair and white skin – who, in the eyes of the Nazis, were meant to rule over the other races. So they set about looking for girls who were themselves that type,” says Miriam who explains that she had to wear a wig for the role to achieve the desired Aryan blondeness. “The organisation took these girls to large houses, almost like hotels where they made them have sex with army officers so they could create ‘pure’ Aryan children.” 

Marga would not to get raise her baby, or babies. It, like the thousands of Aryan-looking children who were kidnapped from German occupied territories, would be adopted by “suitable” German families. “It’s important to reflect the misplaced pride many felt at being young in that nation,” Miriam says. “Marga’s wrapped up in this terrible ideology and doesn’t actually know it or realise what she signed up to – she’s never even had sex before.” 

North Africa: Harry Chase (Jonah Hauer-King) 

Jonah Hauer-King as Harry Chase in World On Fire on Showmax

A British interpreter-turned-soldier in North Africa, Harry is at war not just with the Italians and Germans, but with the elements during the 241-day siege of Tobruk. “It’s fascinating to think about what that does to someone’s mind, knowing the monster is out there and feeling like you’re on the edge of a precipice, but not being actively engaged. That mental battle is a massive part of this series for the soldiers,” says Jonah.  

“It’s very dangerous, unforgiving and frightening, freezing cold at night and then of course scorching by day. So many people were killed by the desert without even picking up a gun. A single insect bite could turn infectious and kill them. The dehydration, battling the elements, the endless flies – my character and the other men survived the horrors of Dunkirk and probably thought that they were invincible and could take on anything. But the desert brings a whole new level of fear.” 

The downtime gives Harry plenty of time to think about the mess he made of his civilian life in Season 1, with his Polish refugee wife Kasia (Zofia Wichłacz) and British factory girl lover, Lois (Julia Brown). “He was so focused on finding her (Kasia) out in Poland but they’re now facing up to the reality of how they have changed as individuals. It would be unrealistic to think they could just pick up exactly where they left off. They’re going to have to learn to fall back in love again,” says Jonah. “As for Lois … she has a tiny baby.  She’s still really young, even though they’ve all had to grow up really fast. I think Harry and Lois’s relationship evolves quite beautifully over the course of the series. Despite everything there’s a deep friendship and real love and respect for each other.” 

Britain: Kasia Tomaszeski (Zofia Wichłacz) 

Zofia Wichłacz as Kasia Tomaszeski in World on Fire on Showmax

Back home, Harry’s wife is not settling down in any way. “We’re not used to seeing many stories about the incredible resilience and bravery of women during wartime,” says Zofia. “Kasia is basically a soldier suffering from PTSD – so many difficult things happened to her in Warsaw.”  

As the season starts,  Kasia is stuck twiddling her thumbs under the eye of Harry’s posh and frosty mother, Robina (Lesley Manville). “Robina’s a straight talker and she and Kasia have a really complicated and quite funny love-hate relationship. But being in the safe house in Manchester makes Kasia feel like a restless, caged animal, unable to settle down,” says Zofia. “She wants to go back to Poland and be a soldier, which is what she feels she has become. She would never have chosen to end up in this safe place. It’s pretty unbearable for her.” So when Kaia feels she has the chance of picking up war work as a spy this season, she’s going to snap at the chance. “She needs to work, to feel useful, have a sense of purpose, to be a soldier, even when far away from Warsaw and everything she has left behind there.” 

Watch World On Fire S2 on Showmax now »

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