History is making its first foray into scripted series with Vikings, a 10-episode drama from MGM TV and The Tudors and Camelot masterminds Michael Hirst and Morgan O’Sullivan. The series, which will chronicle the world of the mighty Norsemen who raided, traded and explored during medieval times, will premiere in 2013. It will be filmed in Ireland at O’Sullivan’s newly build Ashford Studios, with location shoots throughout Northern Europe. “This is an amazing crossroads for History embarking on our first scripted series,” said the channel’s general manager Nancy Dubuc. “People think they know about the Vikings – we see references to them all the time in our popular culture from TV commercials to football teams – but the reality is so much more fascinating and complex, more vivid, visceral and powerful than popular legend.”
This is the highest-profile TV project to come out of MGM since it was rebuilt post-bankruptcy. “There is no better way to introduce the world to the new MGM Television Studios than with a powerful and epic drama like Vikings,” said Roma Khanna, President of MGM’s TV Group and Digita. The project was put in development at MGM last spring with the goal to go straight-to-series on a 10-episode first-season order. Hirst, creator of Showtime’s The Tudors and co-creator of Starz’s Camelot, created Vikings and will executive produce with O’Sullivan, John Weber and and producers/managers Sherry Marsh and Alan Gasmer. It will be an Ireland-Canada co-production in the mold of O’Sullivan’s production model for The Tudors and Camelot, with his World 2000 Ireland-based production company re-teaming with Weber’s Canadian-based Take 5 Prods. In Canada, Vinkins will air on Shaw Media’s History Television. MGM will distribute internationally, outside of Ireland and Canada.
Vikings follows the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok, an actual historical figure, and the greatest hero of his age. The series tells the sagas of Ragnar’s band of Viking brothers and his family, as he rises to become King of the Viking tribes. As well as being a fearless warrior, Ragnar embodies the Norse traditions of devotion to the gods – legend has it that he was a direct descendent of Odin, the god of war and warriors. According to History, the series “will boast a polished, stylized look that pushes the boundaries of television drama” and “will feature “imaginatively choreographed battles that emphasize individual points of view, strategies and ruses rather than mindless, graphic slaughter.”