BBC’s new Game of Thrones slayer 'The Last Kingdom' relies on Saxon appeal, creators say
'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty
An epic television drama featuring bloody battles and a feud over ancestral lands might sound familiar to fans of the hit series Game of Thrones. But The Last Kingdom, a new big budget BBC spectacular, is not a spin-off of the hugely popular US show, say its creators.
The series is instead a historically rooted drama about the ninth-century wars between the Anglo-Saxons and Viking invaders.
Based on Bernard Cornwell’s bestselling series of “Saxon stories”, the drama is set in England during the reign of King Alfred, when “the separate kingdoms of what we now know as England have fallen to the invading Vikings and the great kingdom of Wessex has been left standing alone and defiant”.
Merging historical figures and fiction, The Last Kingdom’s hero is Uhtred, born the son of a Saxon nobleman, who is orphaned by the Vikings and then kidnapped and raised as one of their own.
Forced to choose between the country of his birth and the people of his upbringing, Uhtred treads a dangerous path between Saxon and Viking as he seeks to recapture his ancestral lands.
Coming to BBC Two next year, the series is a collaboration between BBC America and Carnival Films, the award winning producers who turned ITV’s Downton Abbey into a global blockbuster. It will inevitably prompt comparisons with Game of Thrones, the HBO fantasy phenomenon.
The Last Kingdom promises “heroic deeds and epic battles” as well as clashes involving warriors like Ivar the Boneless and his feared brother, Ubba.
But Carnival said the series would be quite different from Game of Thrones, which is pure “fantasy”, whereas The Last Kingdom is a franchise of historical novels about the birth of England.
The series promises a “thematic depth that embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love, loyalty and our universal search for identity”. No Viking drama can be complete without its share of rape and pillage. But the BBC series is unlikely to match the explicit sex scenes found in Game of Thrones.
Gareth Neame, the award-winning executive producer, said: “Cornwell’s Saxon novels combine historical figures and events with fiction in an utterly compelling way. In the hands of screenwriter Stephen Butchard, we believe it will make original and engrossing television drama.”
Neame added: “This is not Game of Thrones. Brilliant though that show is, ours is a historical drama based on the real events around the time of King Alfred the Great and the foundation of England.”
Shooting begins in the autumn for the series, which will run for eight hour-long episodes. With eight Saxon stories novels published, the BBC hopes The Last Kingdom will become a long-running show, like Game of Thrones, which has been renewed for a fifth and sixth season after its fourth run amassed record viewing figures.
Cornwell was also responsible for the “Sharpe” novels about a soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. These became a long-running television series of the same name starring Sean Bean, who coincidentally also appeared in the first series of Game of Thrones.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 3 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 4 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
- 5 Have you heard about the film Singapore has banned its people from watching? Well, you have now
Laurie Lee's Rosie: What is it like to inspire a writer's work and be immortalised forever on the page?
Metal detectors object to digs by Mackenzie Crook about ‘dysfunctional’ hobby in BBC4's 'Detectorists'
Doctor Who series 8: Time Heist pictures revealed ahead of episode 5
The Walking Dead season 5 air date, trailer and season 4 recap
Star Wars 7 leaked set photo of Adam Driver changes everything
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'