New WWI Drama ‘The Passing Bells’ to be produced by BBC Worldwide, Apple Film, and TVP

This year marks the centenary (yep 100 years, wow) of the start of WWI, the war to end all wars. Oh, if only it had.

Anyway, back on track.

As you can imagine, to mark the occasion, you can expect to see a lot of dramatizations of the tragic war, and who better to do so than the BBC (who along with HBO, are probably the only company I trust to do the story justice).

BBC Worldwide has announced a co-production with Apple Film and TVP in Poland for a drama called The Passing Bells, to be written by Tony Jordan (Life on Mars, Hustle, EastEnders – though we won’t hold that last one against him).

From the press release:

Filming in Poland, The Passing Bells tells the moving story of World War One through the eyes of two very ordinary young men who enlist in a war they expect will be over within months. As the conflict unfolds, so do the boys’ stories as they grow up amid the horror of war, and find love.

Tony Jordan, Executive Producer and Managing Director of Red Planet Pictures, said: “This is a hugely important project for British television in this, the centenary of the First World War, a conflict that shaped Europe as we know it today. It was always going to be vital to find a meaningful European partner for this project and working with TVP is something Red Planet is very excited about.”

The deal with TVP has been brokered by BBC Worldwide and Apple Film Production in Poland. Apple Film Production led by Dariusz Jabłoński will act as the Polish co-producer on the series for TVP and BBC Worldwide is the global distributor for the series.

This second collaboration between BBC Worldwide and TVP and Apple Film Production follows their co-production of the critically acclaimed thriller Spies of Warsaw, a tale of intrigue, romance and betrayal set during the years leading up to the Second World War, which captivated audiences throughout the UK and Poland last year.

Talking about this new co-production, Piotr Radziszewski the director of TVP1, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with the BBC again on such a prestigious, large-scale project. We have a shared ambition to create bold, compelling drama that will resonate with audiences not only in the UK and Poland but all around the world.”

Ben Donald, Executive Producer for International Drama at BBC Worldwide said: “We are delighted to be able to build on the relationship with TVP with this second collaboration, and especially to come together on such an important piece of commemorative drama whose emotional impact we are confident will captivate audiences in Poland and indeed globally.“

Dariusz Jabłoński, Founder and President of Apple Film Production said:  “Our relationship with BBC Worldwide opens up fantastic opportunities to develop co-productions in Poland as this latest collaboration between the BBC and TVP demonstrates. The fantastic script by the one and only Tony Jordan brings a unique opportunity for the Polish film industry to work with Europe’s best professionals. We are proud to work on this highly prestigious European project, commemorating the centenary of the Great War, which, above all, brought Poland’s independence back.”

The Passing Bells is produced by Jordan’s independent production company Red Planet Pictures through BBC Cymru Wales Drama. The 5 x 30” series will be executively produced by Jordan and the team at Red Planet Pictures and Bethan Jones for the BBC.  The series will also be available in two additional formats, 4 x 45’ and 2 x 90’.

Commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama, and Danny Cohen, Director of Television, BBC, The Passing Bells will form a key part of BBC One’s programming to mark the centenary of World War One and will appear on Poland’s national broadcaster (TVP) in November 2014 to coincide with celebrations to mark the rebirth of the Polish nation at the end of World War One.

So information is obviously pretty preliminary at present, with no casting announced, but it sounds amazing.

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