Are you ready for the TV debut of epic new drama filmed in Wigan?

Film crews and props in Kendal Street, Wigan
Film crews and props in Kendal Street, Wigan

A gripping new historical drama which was partly filmed in Wigan is about to hit TV screens this weekend.


The first episode of epic new wartime series World on Fire, which looks at how ordinary people from across Europe and the US are drawn into the events of World War Two, airs on Sunday night on the BBC.

Film crews descended on the borough during the long shooting process with a number of Wigan locations featuring.

Kendal Street in Gidlow, with its rows of terraced houses, was closed for filming as it gave an authentic 1940s look while The Old Courts appeared on the production schedule standing in for venues including Levenshulme Palais in Manchester and a decadent Paris nightclub.

The seven-part drama also features an impressive cast headed by Sean Bean, Lesley Manville and Helen Hunt, while Bafta-winner Peter Bowker who has the likes of The A Word on his CV has written the series.

Mr Bowker said: “World On Fire tells the hidden human stories within the big historical events we think we know ... the stories of the ordinary people who shaped our world.

“Stories of loyalty and brutality, courage and fear, hopes, stories of love and loss, hopes and dreams forged in extraordinary times.”

A number of Wigan residents may also be seen on screen as they donned wartime garb during shooting to appear as extras.

The borough was not the show’s only North West location as crews also pointed their cameras at the beach in St Anne’s near Blackpool.

The ambitious programme took the cast and crews to venues across the UK and also to Paris, Berlin and Prague.

The show’s complex plot weaves together a number of stories spanning two continents as the world is drawn into terrible conflict.

With the threat of Nazi domination looming over Europe, translator Harry Chase vows to help his Polish lover Kasis flee Warsaw despite having a sweetheart waiting at home for him in Manchester while a US journalist makes a disturbing discovery at the Polish-German border.

Sharpe star Bean, meanwhile, has spoken about his role as Douglas Bennett, a working-class man who has a humble job as a bus conductor.

However, the outbreak of war leads to a moral dilemma due to the carnage he witnessed on the frontline in World War One and he register as a conscientious objector and a pacifist.

The lives of Douglas’s two grown-up children Lois and Tom are also shown on screen during World on Fire.

Wigan drew high praise as a filming location from those involved in making the drama during the production stage.

Location manager Andrew Bainbridge said: “From the first time I visited Wigan, I knew that it would offer us some great locations for World on Fire and I wasn’t wrong.

“The town offers great streets and some very interesting spaces (not all of which we are using) but most of all the welcome from the residents, businesses and the council has been overwhelming.

“The town has a real can-do attitude and I will always consider filming in Wigan again.”

The opening episode of World on Fire is on BBC One on Sunday at 9pm.