The Last Kingdom BBC series, based on the Cornwell books

Recently announced by BBC Two. Starring Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred. Shooting begins later this year.

A Carnival Films and BBC America co-production for BBC Two, The Last Kingdom is an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling series of books by BAFTA nominated and RTS award-winning writer Stephen Butchard.
BBC Two, BBC America and Carnival Films, the Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning producers, today announced that production would begin in the autumn on The Last Kingdom, a new historical 8x60’ drama series.

BAFTA nominated and RTS award-winning writer Stephen Butchard (Good Cop, Five Daughters, House Of Saddam) will adapt Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling franchise ‘The Saxon Stories’ for the screen. Cornwell is also known for his much-loved ‘Sharpe’ novels that became the long-running TV series of the same name starring Sean Bean.

Set in the year 872, when many of the separate kingdoms of what we now know as England have fallen to the invading Vikings, the great kingdom of Wessex has been left standing alone and defiant under the command of King Alfred the Great.

Against this turbulent backdrop lives our hero, Uhtred. 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, seek to recapture his ancestral lands.

The Last Kingdom, made by Carnival Films (Downton Abbey), is a show full 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 and Chrissy Skinns (Mr Selfridge, Marchlands) producing the show. The Commissioning Editor is Polly Hill for the BBC and Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, ordered the show. Perry Simon, General Manager, Channels, and 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,” said 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.”

Kim Shillinglaw, Controller, BBC Two, adds: “BBC Two has a great reputation for distinctive, surprising drama - I’m delighted we are doing The Last Kingdom, an epic piece from a highly regarded creative team.”

Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, says: “I hope The Last Kingdom will expand BBC Two’s distinctive portfolio of drama. 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.”

I am excited about this in a big way. Given the success of History Channel’s Vikings series, I think the Cornwell books about Alfred, Wessex, Saxons and Lord Uhtred have the potential to draw much of the audience from that show while adding on fans of the series and some curious folks looking for their next Game of Thrones fix. The stories are compelling, the characters are larger-than-life without being one-dimensional, and the setting can be done without the need for tons of CGI and other tech wizardry to approximate England circa the late 9th century. When I also read that the whole thing was being produced by the Downton Abbey folks I went from cautiously optimistic to very excited, as that pretty much assures that the writing, casting and production values will all be high quality.

Can. Not. Wait.

Very excited for this as well. I’ve read all the books, while they got a little ‘samey’ for me I can see this being and excellent TV show in the right hands. It’s got a better story than Vikings that’s for sure (and I really like that show.)

Yeah, I’m a massive Cornwell fan so I’ll definitely give this a shot.

“Kill the bastards!”
-Battle-Cry of all Cornwell Protagonists

That over-used line aside, it’s a great series of books. Looking forward to this.

Very cool, I enjoy his books and I think this series is my favorite.

Production is starting right about now, according to Cornwell. I could have sworn we had an earlier thread about this, not 100% sure.

— Alan

It was the first thing mentioned on the Vikings thread, how several of us would like to see Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles as a series. Wish granted.

Filming has started and the initial cast is set. There aren’t a lot of well-known actors, outside of Alexander Dreymon who is playing Uhtred, Rutger Hauer, and Ian Hart (from Boardwalk Empire). Still not really known which or how many books the series will span as there are 8 60-minute episodes.

— Alan

Short teaser:

— Alan

— Alan

Thanks to whoever mentioned Saxon Tales a while back. I’ve devoured them all and am starting a reread.

I’ll finally learn how to pronounce wyrd bi∂ ful ārǣd.

That picture says to me, “I know how to use a hairbrush and I’m not afraid to also use it on my faux-fur pauldrons.”


Ah the poor BBC, trying to be it’s best but under attack from all sides (they are having their public funded status looked at etc). The books are awesome, and i hope they don’t try to ‘sexy it up’ too much, as we have seen with series like the recent (poor) attempt to revive Robin Hood and things like Merlin (trying too hard to be Harry Potter mkII) etc.

Can the BBC produce credible historic series? Sometimes, so fingers crossed this is one of them. Soon it will be just like all the other TV, lite, junk, designed to lower voter IQ etc, so enjoy it while it lasts.

I wonder how much sleep the Beeb loses over passing on that chance to partner on Game of Thrones?

Can’t say I blame them, really. They got burned hard (financially) on Rome, and I dunno if you’d want to face the music regarding some of the things that happen in the show being publicly funded (I mean, imagine if PBS aired GoT).

Apparently BBC aired a lengthy trailer at Comic Con, but it was the precursor to the Doctor Who panel and no one there gave a hoot about it (or even pirated it).

I’m cautiously optimistic.

— Alan

Weer beeth full ah-rad. Or within spitting distance, at least. Don’t make that “ah” breathy, and Im not entirely sure about the d on wyrd being silent. If not, just go with wierd with more of a long e sound.

Edit in: just cut and paste the phrase and plug it in on YouTube. The Wanderer read in Old English, about 17 seconds in.

New trailer out:

Another teaser. But I loved it.

Trying so hard to not get my hopes up for this, and so far failing.

Wow that underwhelmed me. It looks way to ‘clean,’ I didn’t like the forced titillation, and the cast is clearly c rate. Yikes, I was looking forward to this - now, nosomuch.