Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands

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Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands
Opening title
Created by
Based onBeowulf
by Anonymous
Developed by
  • James Dormer
  • Tim Haines
  • Katie Newman
Directed by
  • Rob Lane
  • Jonny Sims
  • Will Rice
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes13 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
ProducerStephen Smallwood
  • Owen McPolin
  • Mike Spragg
  • James Friend
  • Jean-Philippe Gossart
  • James Welland
Running time46 mins approx (exc. adverts)
Production companyITV Studios
Original release
Release3 January (2016-01-03) –
20 March 2016 (2016-03-20)

Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands is a British epic fantasy drama television series broadcast by ITV. It was created by James Dormer, Tim Haines and Katie Newman. Dormer wrote the series based on the poem Beowulf and executive-produced it along with Haines and Newman, while Stephen Smallwood produced the series. The series began airing in the United Kingdom on 3 January 2016[1][2] and in the United States from 23 January 2016.[3]

Shortly after the series began, ITV announced that it would not be renewed for a second series.


Beowulf returns to his Heorot to find that Hrothgar, his adoptive father, is dead. Hrothgar's wife, Rheda, who had favoured her own son over the young Beowulf, is named his successor. Beowulf's step-brother, Slean, is furious, both because of his return and for not himself being named Thane.

Rheda, now regent, must show strength while scheming for the support of other village heads, in order to gain the title of Jarl (a rank above Thane)—a title some are willing to kill for.

Meanwhile, the reeve is found dead. Beowulf is initially blamed, but manages to prove it is the work of a dreaded skinshifter.



No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"Episode 1: The Return"Jon EastJames Dormer3 January 2016 (2016-01-03) (ITV Hub 23 December 2015 (2015-12-23))
Beowulf arrives at Heorot to discover that Hrothgar the thanedom ruler, and the man who adopted him after his father's death, has died.
2"Episode 2: The Gathering"Jon EastJames Dormer10 January 2016 (2016-01-10)
A killer is at large in the kingdom, and with other Thanes traveling to a gathering, the pressure is on Beowulf to catch those responsible.
3"Episode 3"Julian HolmesGuy Burt17 January 2016 (2016-01-17)
When Slean and Scorann vanish, Beowulf and Rate venture into the forest to find him, where Heorot's enemies are still at large. As the Gathering approaches, meanwhile, Rheda's bid for leadership hangs on Scorann's vote.
4"Episode 4"Julian HolmesMichael A Walker24 January 2016 (2016-01-24)
Rheda must prove herself worthy as ruler of the Shieldlands when war among the tribes threatens the collapse of Heorot.
5"Episode 5"Stephen WoolfendenGuy Burt & Jon Cooksey31 January 2016 (2016-01-31)
Beowulf and his group travel to the Mere with the weapons promised to Thane Gorrik. They soon discover new dangers await them when the aging Thane welcomes them with hostility, until his daughter falls ill. Beowulf and Breca must then set out to find the cure and save her.
6"Episode 6"Colin TeagueGuy Burt7 February 2016 (2016-02-07)
Beowulf is rebuilding the town's defences when a troll unexpectedly attacks. While he and Breca travel to the forest to stave off further attacks, Slean leaves Heorot and travels to Bregan after overhearing a conversation between Elvina and Beowulf.
7"Episode 7"Colin TeagueGuy Burt14 February 2016 (2016-02-14)
While Beowulf fights off the invading Wulfing tribe, Rheda faces up to Jogan, an enemy from her past. Meanwhile, Abrecan questions whether Slean would be brave enough to betray his mother.
8"Episode 8"Stephen Woolfenden & Kerric MacDonaldJames Dormer & Michael A. Walker21 February 2016 (2016-02-21)
As Slean and Kela prepare for their wedding, Abrecan is forced to choose to accept Rheda's new laws which have spread throughout the tribe or take a stand against his sister.
9"Episode 9"Cilla WareJames Dormer28 February 2016 (2016-02-28)
A romance blossoms between Beowulf and Elvina, but when the two are captured, Elvina is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past.
10"Episode 10"Cilla WareJack Lothian6 March 2016 (2016-03-06)[4]
While Beowulf struggles to come to terms with his relationship with Elvina, Rheda travels to face up to her brother as Heorot's defences are on the brink of collapse.
11"Episode 11"Marek LoseyGuy Burt13 March 2016 (2016-03-13)
Rheda escapes from custody in Bregan, but now faces her biggest threat as Heorot is threatened with invasion by Abrecan's forces.
12"Episode 12"Marek LoseyGuy Burt20 March 2016 (2016-03-20)
The future of Heorot rests on Rheda's shoulders and with the help of Beowulf, stands to fight against her brother's forces.
13"Episode 13"TBDTBD2016 (2016)
The battle of all battles falls upon the peoples of Heorot. Weapons forged, loyal and armed men, women and children brace themselves to wage a brutal attack with Beowulf helming their defence.



On 12 March 2015, Kieran Bew was cast in the series to play the title role;[5] other cast included William Hurt, Joanne Whalley, Ed Speleers, David Ajala, Ian Puleston-Davies, Ellora Torchia, Gísli Örn Gardarsson, Susan Aderin, Kirsty Oswald, Laura Donnelly, Edward Hogg, Alex Price, Jack Rowan, and Itoya Osagiede.[5] On 17 April 2015, David Harewood was added to the cast.[6] Additional casting was announced on 19 August 2015, including Joe Sims, Lee Boardman, David Bradley, Ace Bhatti, and Grégory Fitoussi.[7]


Filming on the series began in April 2015 in Weardale, County Durham. The main outdoor set was built on the site of a former cement works south of Eastgate, which is west of Stanhope.[8] Filming also took place across Northumberland, and a film crew was spotted on the beach at Bamburgh in late April.[9] In June, a set was built in the sand dunes at Druridge Bay, and another on the shoreline of Derwent Reservoir. The main filming studios in the North East were located at the former Dewhirst clothing factory and warehouse, in Blyth, Northumberland.

Kieran Bew said he had started to put down roots in Los Angeles when he was cast in the title role: "It's been incredible to come back home... I got this job and literally ended up working 20 minutes from where I grew up. It's really strange and really lovely to drive to work and see signs like Spennymoor and Darlington."[10]


The series has received mixed reviews holding a 5.5 average rating on review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes. Positive reviews have garnered approval for the plot, creature mythology, and writing, with one television critic praising the series for its set design and special effects.[11] Negative reviews have tended to say the series feels too derivative of works like Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings. Esquire stated that the show "seems determined to remain true to source material, which involves a lot of glowering, growling and stomping around. That may have been enough two millenniums ago, but in 21st century America, it's a bit of a buzzkill."[12] Ed Power of The Telegraph said of the show, "Cheap-looking special effects, a bland hero and barely any resemblance to the source material makes this Beowulf a flop."[13]


  1. ^ "ITV commissions 13-part epic warrior drama Beowulf". 15 December 2014. Archived from the original on 5 February 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  2. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (15 December 2014). "ITV Orders Epic 'Beowulf' Action/Drama Series From 'Strike Back's James Dormer". Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  3. ^ Sollosi, Mary (18 December 2016). "Esquire Network's Beowulf to premiere in January: See the exclusive supertease". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands Episode 10". 23 February 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  5. ^ a b Jaafar, Ali (12 March 2015). "Kieran Bew Cast As Lead In ITV's 'Beowulf'". Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  6. ^ Wyatt, Daisy (17 April 2015). "David Harewood returns to British homeland for ITV's Beowulf". Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  7. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (19 August 2015). "ITV's 'Beowulf' Adds Cast From 'The Strain', 'Broadchurch', 'Mr Selfridge' & More". Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  8. ^ Whetstone, David (17 April 2015). "We visit the set of ITV's mighty Beowulf production in County Durham". Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  9. ^ O’Connell, Ben (25 April 2015). "WATCH: Action on Northumberland beach for TV drama". Archived from the original on 6 August 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  10. ^ "ITV's press launch for Beowulf". Matt Chapman. 18 November 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  11. ^ Harrison, Julie (4 January 2016). "Beowulf:Return To The Shieldlands". Den Of Geek. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  12. ^ McNamara, Mary (23 January 2016). "Esquire TV's 'Beowulf' is one that, unfortunately, is so two millenniums ago". Esquire. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  13. ^ Power, Ed (3 January 2016). "Beowulf:Return To The Shieldlands review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 December 2018.

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