World on Fire season 1 recap: What happened to Sean Bean’s Douglas Bennett and which characters will be back in season 2?

Fans might be in need of a World on Fire season 1 recap as we prepare for the BBC drama's return four years after *that* intense finale

World on Fire season 1 recap explained. Seen here are the main cast of season 2 of the BBC drama
(Image credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen)

If you’re looking for a World on Fire season 1 recap we’ve got you covered as we get into what happened to your favorite characters ahead of season 2.

It might have been four years since World on Fire season 1 drew to its intense conclusion but fans are finally set for what looks set to be an equally heart-wrenching follow-up when season 2 premieres on July 17. Starring the likes of The Crown season 5’s Lesley Manville, Game of Thrones star Sean Bean and Shetland’s Julia Brown, season 1 took place during the first year of the Second World War. Moving throughout Europe, viewers were introduced to a vast array of characters and the second season will continue to take us through their experiences from 1940. 

But not everyone will remember exactly where we left our favorite characters in the BBC drama. Here is our World on Fire season 1 recap including what happened to Sean Bean’s character Douglas and who will and won't be back in season 2…

*Warning: Spoilers for seasons 1 and 2 ahead*


(Image credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen/Jack McGuire)

Whirlwind World on Fire season 1 recap 

Unlike fellow historical dramas like Outlander season 7 and The Last Kingdom season 5 which only had one and two year gaps between them and the previous season, World on Fire season 1 aired in 2019. For those understandably looking for a World on Fire season 1 recap, things are made a little more complicated given the show moves between an ensemble cast and different countries. However, one of the main storylines to keep in mind ahead of season 2 concerns Harry Chase, Lois Bennett and Kasia Tomaszeski.

Lois Bennett (JULIA BROWN)

(Image credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen/Steffan Hill)

Harry Chase and Lois Bennett were sweethearts before he fell in love with Kasia whilst working as a translator in Poland. Eventually, he ended up admitting this to Lois after traveling home with Kasia’s brother Jan after the Germans started to attack Poland. Kasia had switched places with Jan at the last minute to ensure he was safe and he was taken in by Harry’s mother Robina, played by Lesley Manville, who is quite closed off to her son.

Things got complicated as it turned out Lois was pregnant with Harry’s child even though he was still in love with Kasia, who has become part of the resistance movement in Poland. Meanwhile, Harry enlisted in the army and Lois is a singer in the Entertainments National Service Association as she prepares to welcome her child.


(Image credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen/Steffan Hill)

It’s during her work that she met RAF fighter pilot Vernon Hunter who fell for Lois in a big way and proposed marriage. In the emotional World on Fire season 1 finale she accepted the proposal after giving birth to her and Harry’s daughter. Although Robina told her son about this and he went round to the Bennetts’ house, her pacifist father Douglas told him to leave. Douglas is played by Sean Bean and is a bus conductor and a pacifist, against violence of any kind thanks to his own terrifying experiences in the First World War.

He also has a son Tom, Lois’ brother, who finds himself in trouble and thought joining the Royal Navy was his best way to avoid prison. Tom ended up going through a lot before finding himself at the hospital in Paris where nurse Henriette Guilbert worked and being smuggled out to safety by her and Dr Webster O’Connor. 


(Image credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen/Barney Cokeliss)

Henriette is secretly Jewish and kept her faith a secret during her work and Webster was in a relationship with Albert - a jazz saxophonist. Tragically Albert was captured as his partner and Henriette tried to get him to safety. During season 1 Webster’s aunt, American journalist Helen Hunt was also trying to communicate from Berlin what was really going on and the atrocities being committed. 

A World on Fire season 1 recap also wouldn’t be the same without a run-down of the series’ final scenes. Harry returned to Poland on a mission and reunited with Kasia and her resistance group. During an ambush by German soldiers most of the group are captured but the pair get away, running through the woods.

Kasia Tomaszeski (ZOFIA WICHŁACZ)

(Image credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen)

Kasia shot a German soldier to save Harry when he fell over before he told her to run and he’d meet her at the top of the hill. The finale ended with Kasia looking up at Tom at the top as she made her way up.

What happened to Sean Bean’s Douglas Bennett and will he be in season 2? 

When it comes to what happened to Sean Bean’s character Douglas Bennett, perhaps the most shocking plot-point surrounding the pacifist bus conductor actually happened between the seasons. As revealed by Julia Brown who plays his daughter Lois in the show, Douglas won’t be in World on Fire season 2 as Sean’s character has been killed off-screen.

"I think it will be a massive shock for viewers to see that Douglas, the committed pacifist, is no longer with us,” Julia said, as per “He was killed when their house in Manchester was hit by a bomb in the Blitz. Luckily, Lois was out working on a shift at the time, so she survived.”

Sean Bean attends the Los Angeles premiere of Sony Pictures' "Knights Of The Zodiac"

(Image credit: Photo by JC Olivera/WireImage via Getty)

She added, "It's a horrible thing to have happened to a very peaceful man who strongly believed that the war was unjustifiable and wanted to put an end to violence - in the end, he was killed just sitting quietly at home."

As fans got to know Douglas in World on Fire season 1 they learnt that he was deeply affected by his time fighting in the Battle of the Somme in the First World War. Since then he’d become a pacifist and the awful way that such a “peaceful” man died could perhaps be seen to highlight the scale of devastation and utter heartbreak and horror of the Second World War too.

Which World on Fire characters will be back for season 2 and who else is in the cast?  

Thankfully for those who couldn’t get enough of the brilliant performances of the main cast members in World on Fire season 1, the majority of them will be back for season 2. This means we’ll be seeing Harry, his mother Robina, Tom, Lois, Kasia, her brothers Grzegorz and Jan and saxophonist and Webster’s lover, Albert. 

Harry’s sergeant Stan Raddings will also be returning in season 2, as will nurse Henriette Guilbert and Lois’ friend Connie. World on Fire season 2 is also set to introduce several new main characters and fans of Shetland who’re still sad they aren’t expected to see him in the Shetland season 8 cast might well be thrilled to see Mark Bonnar in the historical drama. He’s playing Sir James Danemere and if you loved Spy Among Friends prepare for more intrigue here as he’s an M15 operative. 

Sir James Danemere (MARK BONNAR)

(Image credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen)

Not only that, but Sir James is also being teased as a potential love interest for the emotionally stoic Robina Chase so we’ll have to see how things might develop there. Gregg Sulkin has also joined the cast as Jewish fighter pilot David whose bravery matches his daring when it comes to taking risks. Meanwhile, other new World on Fire characters for season 2 include Army officer Rajib played by Ahad Raza Mir and Marga played by Miriam Schiweck who is a member of the Band of German Maidens.


(Image credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen)

The only characters not returning are Sean Bean’s Douglas, Helen Hunt’s American journalist Nancy Campbell, her nephew Dr Webster O’Conner played by Brian J Smith and Arthur Darvill’s RAF fighter pilot Vernon Hunter. Given Lois had just agreed to marry Vernon in World on Fire season 1 finale, the reports that he won’t be back in season 2 seem to suggest that she will continue to have a major role in the story as she presumably comes to terms with either his death or their separation, either romantically or geographically.

How to watch World on Fire seasons 1 and 2 

If you're keen to re-watch the first instalment following our World on Fire season 1 recap then for UK-based fans World on Fire season 1 can be watched for free via BBC iPlayer. Season 2 starts on Sunday on BBC One at 9pm and will be available to stream on iPlayer too. US viewers can watch World on Fire season 1 via PBS Passport but season 2 won't air across the pond on PBS Masterpiece until October 15.

Sadly, if you’re going to be on vacation abroad when you want to watch World on Fire then you won’t be able to watch as you normally would at home. Luckily there’s an easy solution and you can use a VPN to continue watching.


(Image credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen)

This is a handy bit of software that changes your IP address so that you can access on-demand content or live TV just as if you were at home. Our sister site, TechRadar, has tested all of the major VPN services and they rate ExpressVPN as the absolute best. They say, “It’s compatible with all of your devices, supports most streaming services, and ranks among the fastest. You can even install it on devices like an Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Xbox, and PlayStation. So for a one-stop-shop, you can’t go wrong with Express.”   

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Ranked among one of the fastest VPN providers, this risk-free service is also compatible with all of your devices. Enjoy access to almost any streaming service, and if you don't like it there's a 30-day money-back guarantee.

If you've never installed a VPN before, don't worry, it's quick and easy. Just follow these three steps:

  1. Download and install the VPN following ExpressVPN's easy-to-follow instructions.
  2. Once you've installed your VPN, open the app and select your server location as anywhere in the UK.
  3. With your VPN installed and server location set to UK, you can now watch World on Fire online. 

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Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with seven years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.