An international cast has been firmed up as shooting begins on The Last Kingdom, BBC America, BBC Two and Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films’ Game Of Thrones-esque epic series. Set in the 9th century, the eight-part historical drama is an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling series of books The Saxon Stories, with Stephen Butchard penning the transfer. As Deadline reported in September, American Horror Story: Coven’s Alexander Dreymon is leading the ensemble. Also joining the cast are Rutger Hauer, Ripper Street’s Matthew Macfadyen and David Dawson; Emily Cox (The Silent Mountain); Boardwalk Empire’s Ian Hart; Kon-Tiki’s Tobias Santelmann; Thomas W. Gabrielsson of A Royal Affair and The Killing III; Peter Gantzler (Italian For Beginners); Joseph Millson (Penny Dreadful, 24:Live Another Day); Alexandre Willaume (Over The Edge); Rune Temte (The Accident); and Henning Valin Jakobsen (The Bridge, The Killing).
The series will combine real historical figures and events with fictional characters during the reign of Alfred the Great, who as King of Wessex fought off a Viking invasion. Dreymon plays Uhtred, who was born the son of a Saxon nobleman but 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. 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.
Carnival’s Neame, believes The Last Kingdom 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.” The BBC’s Ben Stephenson adds, The Last Kingdom, “will feel like nothing else on television, with all of the scale and intrigue of the best fantasy stories but the reality of fact.” BBC Drama is pushing out the boat this year with Stephenson announcing 43.5 hours of new commissions just last week.
Shooting is taking place in Hungary and the UK with Neame, Nigel Marchant and Stephen Butchard as executive producers; and Nick Murphy (Prey) as co-executive producer and director of multiple episodes. Chrissy Skinns (Mr Selfridge) will produce the drama.