Sheffield's Sean Bean compares BBC's new World On Fire war drama to a 'completely captivating novel'

Yorkshire-born actor Sean Bean has described the BBC's upcoming war drama World On Fire as like a "completely captivating novel".

Sean Bean in World On Fire. Picture: BBC.
Sean Bean in World On Fire. Picture: BBC.

The Game of Thrones star, from Sheffield, plays pacifist bus driver Douglas Bennett in the show, which was partly filmed at Braime Pressings factory in Hunslet, Leeds.

-> Sean Bean plays a traumatised war veteran in major new BBC drama World on Fire - we talk to the Sheffield-born starHis character 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", said the star in an interview with the BBC.

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Bean said: "It’s an amazing production that I became engrossed in as soon as I read it the scripts. In some ways it’s like a completely captivating novel and every individual seemed to be portrayed as unique.

Sean Bean in World On Fire. Picture: BBC.

"They all have their particular ambitions, dreams and jobs before the war starts and then their fears and dread as events unfold are the same across all the countries we show.

"They are all coming to terms with the changes that are happening in their lives and realise that, for some of them, ridicule, intimidation and persecution are coming down the line because of their beliefs and simply for being who they are."

-> Sean Bean spotted filming new World War Two drama in LeedsHe added: "My mother and father were born just before the war started in the 1930s. They used to tell me stories about how they used to wear the gas masks.

"My auntie and uncle had an Anderson shelter in their shed (that’s still there today) that we used to play in it when we were little. It was very flimsy as bomb shelters go and I’ll always remember those moments.

World On Fire. Credit: BBC.

"They were storytellers and there was a lot of humour and funny stories to be told of those times."

In the show, the first episode of which will air on Sunday, the working-class Bennett family consists of widower Douglas, son Tom and daughter Lois.

Bean said: "Douglas’ wife died years ago so he’s brought the children up somewhat 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."

But he strikes up a romance with Robina, a "gentrified lady of the manor".

The drama takes viewers back to suummer 1939, when translator Harry (Jonah Hauer-King) is working at the British Embassy in Warsaw, falling in love with Polish waitress Kasia (Zofia Wichłacz).

When German tanks roll into Poland and Britain declares war on Germany, Harry and Kasia are faced with "terrible choices", said the broadcaster.

The hour-long first episode of seven will air at 9pm on BBC One on Sunday.