"Robina is an upper middle-class woman who is widowed and is the epitome of the very posh end of Manchester. Her son Harry, played by Jonah Hauer-King, is her only child who goes off to war and that's really what Robina's story revolves around. Harry's father, we learn, has committed suicide and she lives in a large country pile that's a bit cold and soulless. I was drawn to play that class of woman because it's not something I've had to do often before," Manville said.
Penned by multi-award-winning writer Peter Bowker, "World On Fire" is a drama telling the story of World War II through the lives of ordinary people from all sides of the global conflict. It traces the intertwining fates of characters in Britain, Poland, France, Germany and the US as they grapple with the effect of the war. The series also features Sean Bean and Helen Hunt.
Talking about the show, 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 uniquely."
He continued: "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."
Added Bowker: "The ambition of the piece was to tell a story that we all feel we are familiar with, that forms part of Britain's national philosophy, but with a fresh take on it. To tell the stories that might not have been told before or at least not told too widely. I wanted to capture something of the global cooperation. It was possibly the first time in modern history that the world got to talk to each other and cooperate in such intimate terms."
The show went live on SonyLIV on August 14.