The Passing Bells

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The Passing Bells
DVD cover of The Passing Bells.jpg
DVD cover with Jack Lowden (l) and Patrick Gibson (r)
Written byTony Jordan
Directed byBrendan Maher
StarringPatrick Gibson
Jack Lowden
Composer(s)John Lunn
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes5
Production location(s)Poland
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Red Planet Pictures
DistributorBBC Worldwide, TVP (Poland)
Original network
Original release3 November (2014-11-03) – 7 November 2014 (2014-11-07)[1][2]
External links

The Passing Bells is a five-part British-Polish television drama that was first broadcast on BBC One in 2014. The series is set during World War I and was a part of the BBC First World War centenary season.[3]

It shows events through the eyes of two very ordinary teenagers, one from England and one from Germany, who enlist in the war, which they expect will be over within months.[3][4] The drama stars Patrick Gibson and Jack Lowden, and was written by Tony Jordan and directed by Brendan Maher.[3][5][6][7]


The series operates in parallel as it follows two teenagers in two countries, one German (Jack Lowden) and one British (Patrick Gibson), who sign up as soldiers at the outbreak of the First World War. The plot covers the time period from just prior to the war to its conclusion.

The story includes the boys' families, their love interests, and the friends and comrades they make during the war. It reveals the toll the war takes on the two young men and their fellow soldiers as it lasts far longer than expected, and grows harsher and more meaningless. The two soldiers encounter each other at certain points, including at the conclusion of the war.


  • Patrick Gibson – Tommy Edwards, a teen in England who enjoys sketching birds
  • Jack Lowden – Michael Lang, a carefree teen in Germany
  • Erika Kaar – Joanna, a young Polish nurse Tommy meets when wounded
  • Sabrina Bartlett – Katie, Michael's girlfriend in Germany
  • Brian Fletcher – Derek, a frightened underage British recruit Tommy takes under his wing
  • Jennifer Hennessy – Susan Lang, Michael's mother
  • Simon Kunz – William Lang, Michael's farmer father
  • Amanda Drew – Annie Edwards, Tommy's mother
  • Alex Ferns – David Edwards, Tommy's father
  • Hubert Burton – Cyril, a young British soldier who tries to keep things humorous
  • Matthew Aubrey – Kenny Bond, a British soldier who becomes a corporal
  • Wilf Scolding – Freddie, a young German soldier
  • Mark Burghagen – Erich, a gruff and defeatist German soldier
  • Adam Long – Anthony, a young British soldier
  • Ben McGregor – Kevin, a young British soldier
  • Felix Auer – Lanzo, a young German soldier


The series was announced by the BBC in October 2013, along with other programmes that played a part in the BBC World War I centenary season.[3] It was a Red Planet Production with BBC Worldwide as the distributor.[8] Filming took place in Poland. Telewizja Polska and Apple Film Production were co-producers.[9][10][11]

The series aired in the pre-watershed time-slot of 7pm, and the script was written for a younger audience and family viewing.[12] The title was taken from the first line of Wilfred Owen's 1917 poem, "Anthem for Doomed Youth": "What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?"[13]

Broadcast and home video[edit]

The series was broadcast on five consecutive days on BBC 1 beginning on 3 November 2014.[14] In Australia, the series premiered on BBC First on 28 May 2015.[15]

The Region 2 DVD was released on 10 November 2014.[16] The streaming video is available on various services.


  1. ^ "BBC One Sets Premiere Date For WWI Drama 'The Passing Bells' - TVWise". TVWise. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  2. ^ "BBC One - The Passing Bells - Episode guide". BBC. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d "The Passing-Bells". BBC. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  4. ^ "The Passing Bells on BBC1 tonight with Jack Lowden as Michael & Paddy Gibson as Thomas in World War I drama told through eyes of British & German teenage soldiers". Scunthorpe Telegraph. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  5. ^ "The BBC announces its four-year World War One Centenary season". BBC. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  6. ^ Burrell, Ian (13 October 2013). "WW1 beyond the mud and trenches: BBC's plans for the centenary of World War One". The Independent. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  7. ^ Conlan, Tara (16 October 2013). "BBC to mark first world war centenary with biggest TV season to date". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  8. ^ "BBC Worldwide and Apple Film Production Broker Deal With Polish Broadcaster TVP to co-produce The Passing Bells". BBC Worldwide. 27 February 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  9. ^ Barraclough, Leo (27 February 2014). "BBC Worldwide, Poland's TVP to Shoot World War I Drama 'The Passing Bells'". Variety. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  10. ^ Kemp, Stuart (27 February 2014). "BBC Worldwide Teams With Poland's TVP, Apple Film Production for World War I Drama". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  11. ^ "TVP joins The Passing Bells". C21 Media. 27 February 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  12. ^ Ellen E Jones (6 November 2014). "The Passing Bells, BBC1, TV review: The First World War drama for". The Independent. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  13. ^ "The Passing Bells - an interview with scriptwriter Tony Jordan". BBC. 5 November 2014.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Foxtel in May: 200+ new shows including Wayward Pines, Open Slather, Nashville and River Cottage Australia". The Green Room. Foxtel. 29 April 2015. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  16. ^ "The Passing Bells [DVD]". Retrieved 26 April 2016.

External links[edit]