BBC AMERICA, BBC TWO and the Golden Globe® and Emmy® award-winning producers of Downton Abbey, Carnival Films, have announced that filming has begun on The Last Kingdom.
A new historical 8 x 60 drama series, The Last Kingdom is an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling series of books “The Saxon Stories”, by BAFTA nominated and RTS award-winning writer Stephen Butchard. The production films in Hungary and the UK.
Alexander Dreymon (American Horror Story, Blood Ransom) heads up the cast, which also includes Rutger Hauer (True Blood, Blade Runner), David Dawson (Ripper Street, Road to Coronation Street), Emily Cox (The Silent Mountain, Circle of Life), Matthew Macfadyen (Anna Karenina, MI-5), Ian Hart (Boardwalk Empire, The Bridge), Tobias Santelmann (Kon-Tiki, Hercules-The Thracian Wars), Thomas W. Gabrielsson (A Royal Affair, The Killing III), Peter Gantzler (A-klassen, Italian For Beginners), Joseph Millson (Penny Dreadful, 24:Live Another Day), Alexandre Willaume (Deadline, Over the Edge), Rune Temte (Ulykken (The Accident), Johan Falk: Organizatsija Karayan), Henning Valin Jakobsen (The Bridge, The Killing). Young cast members include Tom Taylor, Jocelyn Macnab and Madeleine Power.
9th century AD; many of the separate kingdoms of what we now know as England have fallen to the invading Vikings, only the great Kingdom of Wessex stands defiant under its visionary King Alfred the Great (Dawson). It is the last kingdom.
Against this turbulent backdrop lives Uhtred (Dreymon), born the son of a Saxon nobleman, he 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, his loyalties are ever tested. What is he – Saxon or Viking? On a quest to claim his birthright, Uhtred must tread a dangerous path between both sides if he is to play his part in the birth of a new nation and, ultimately, recapture his ancestral lands.
The Last Kingdom, made by Carnival Films (Downton Abbey), is a show of heroic deeds and epic battles but with a thematic depth that embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love, loyalty and our universal search for identity. Combining real historical figures and events with fictional characters, it is the story of how a people combined their strength under one of the most iconic kings of history in order to reclaim their land for themselves and build a place they call home.
Gareth Neame, Nigel Marchant and Stephen Butchard will serve as Executive Producers with Nick Murphy (Prey, Occupation) co-executive producing and directing multiple episodes. Chrissy Skinns (Mr. Selfridge, Marchlands) will produce the show. Commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, the Commissioning Editor is Polly Hill for the BBC. Richard De Croce, SVP Programming, will oversee the series for BBC AMERICA.
“Cornwell’s Saxon novels combine historical figures and events with fiction in an utterly compelling way,” says Gareth Neame. “In the hands of Stephen Butchard we believe it will make original and engrossing television drama. In part the epic quest of our hero Uhtred, it is also a fascinating re-telling of the tale of King Alfred the Great and how he united the many separate kingdoms on this island into what would become England. Our cast has been drawn together from eight different European countries, providing us with the unique opportunity to create a truly international show, tap into a rich seam of talent and bring them to a new global audience.”
Richard De Croce, SVP Programming, BBC AMERICA adds, “The Last Kingdom is an engrossing tale of warrior kings, tested loyalties and the universal human search for identity. We couldn’t have a better team onboard to deliver a drama of epic scale brimming with excitement, smart storytelling and compelling characters.”
Ben Stephenson, Controller of Drama Commissioning, BBC, says, “It’s an epic narrative with an extraordinary creative team. It will feel like nothing else on television, with all of the scale and intrigue of the best fantasy stories but the reality of fact.”