The Last Kingdom (TV series)

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The Last Kingdom
Series title over dying flames
GenreHistorical drama
Based onThe Saxon Stories novels by Bernard Cornwell
Starring
Composer(s)John Lunn
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes26 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Stephen Butchard
Nigel Marchant
Gareth Neame
Producer(s)Chrissy Skinns
Production location(s)Hungary
CinematographyChas Bain
Editor(s)Paul Knight
Running time58–59 minutes
Production company(s)Carnival Film and Television
Release
Original networkBBC Two (UK)
BBC America (US)
Netflix
First shown inUnited States
Original release10 October 2015 (2015-10-10) –
present (present)
External links
Website BBC America
Website BBC Two

The Last Kingdom is a British historical fiction television series based on Bernard Cornwell's The Saxon Stories series of novels. The first series of eight episodes premiered on 10 October 2015 on BBC America, and on BBC Two in the UK on 22 October 2015. A second season of eight episodes was aired on BBC Two in the UK in March 2017, co-produced by Netflix after the exit of BBC America.

The third season of ten episodes, based on the books The Burning Land and Death of Kings, was released by its sole producer Netflix; streaming began on 19 November 2018. On 26 December 2018, the series was renewed for a fourth season by Netflix.

Premise[edit]

The series is filmed primarily in Hungary,[1] with most scenes at the eight acres near Budapest owned by Korda Studios[2] with its Medieval Village Set and surrounding mountains, forests and lakes.[3] The story is set in the late 9th century AD, when England is divided into seven separate kingdoms. The Anglo-Saxon lands are gradually attacked, plundered, and effectively ruled by Viking Danes in many areas. The Kingdom of Wessex remains the last major stronghold against the Danes.

The protagonist is Uhtred of Bebbanburg. Several men of that name existed and ruled Bebbanburg (Bamburgh Castle), but little is known of their actual lives. In short historic sections at the end of each book, Bernard Cornwell explains that he is descended from them and decided to invent a history based on actual historic events.

The tale has its main character re-baptised as Uhtred after his elder brother is killed by the invading Danes. Then his father along with other Saxon noblemen of Northumbria are killed in battle with these same Danes. Only his uncle and step-mother survive. Uhtred and a Saxon girl named Brida are taken as slaves by Earl Ragnar, now settled in Danish Northumbria which becomes their adopted home as they grow older. Time passes and Ragnar's daughter Thyra is about to be married, but fellow Danes attack the night before the wedding and set the hall ablaze in which the whole family are sleeping. Ragnar is burned alive, and Thyra is taken as a slave. Only Uhtred and Brida escape, as they had been in the woods watching the charcoal burn.

The attackers are led by Kjartan, a disgruntled Viking who had been banished by Ragnar from his lands years earlier for an offense committed by Kjartan's son Sven. Uhtred vows to avenge his adoptive father's death, while simultaneously hoping to reclaim Bebbanburg from his uncle—who seeks to kill Uhtred in order to hold onto the land of Bebbanburg.

Uhtred is forced to choose between a kingdom that shares his ancestry and the people of his upbringing, and his loyalties are constantly tested.[4]

The first series' story line roughly covers the plots of the novels The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman, although they are condensed for the purposes of television.[5] The second series covers the plots of Cornwell's novels The Lords of the North and Sword Song.[6]

Season 3 is based on The Burning Land and Death of Kings, but there have been major changes to the plot. This season's 10 episodes were produced solely by Netflix. One reviewer indicated that this had a positive effect: "With it came a certain increase in production values, most notably during the epic end-of-episode clash in which the swing of every sword and thwock of every shield hit firmly home" but added that "the blood-and-gore budget has also undergone a significant increase, thanks in large part to the arrival of the beautiful but psychotic Skade (Thea Sofie Loch Næss)".[7] Much of the season was written by Stephen Butchard and the filming was completed in Hungary. These episodes cover the decline in King Alfred’s health, according to one report "while he tries to ensure that his fiercely-held vision of a Christian, Saxon Wessex as part of a stable English nation will survive him as his legacy .... the Uhtred-Alfred relationship is at the core of the story".[8]

Episodes[edit]

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
1810 October 2015 (2015-10-10)28 November 2015 (2015-11-28)BBC Two
BBC America
2816 March 2017 (2017-03-16)4 May 2017 (2017-05-04)
31019 November 2018 (2018-11-19)Netflix

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

Recurring[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The series started shooting in November 2014.[19][20] It is produced by Carnival Films for BBC Two and BBC America with filming in Hungary and the United Kingdom. Nick Murphy (Prey, Occupation) is co-executive producing and directing multiple episodes.[21] For portrayals of the Vikings at sea, the Viking ship replica Havhingsten fra Glendalough was used.[22]

Filming for the second series began in Budapest in June 2016. Richard Rankin, Gerard Kearns,[23] Thure Lindhardt, Millie Brady, Erik Madsen,[15] and Peter McDonald will join the cast.[24] In August 2016, Aftonbladet reported that Swedish actors Björn Bengtsson[25] and Magnus Samuelsson[26] would join the main cast. Also that month, it was reported that Stephen Butchard would return as the sole script writer and that Netflix had signed on as an international co-production partner for the second series.[27][28][29][30][31]

In April 2018, Netflix confirmed that a third series was in production, based on the books The Lords of the North and Sword Song,[32] which would air exclusively on the streaming service, and Bernard Cornwell indicated that he had been offered a cameo appearance.[33] Swedish actor Ola Rapace will join the cast with Season 3, as Jarl Harald Bloodhair.[34][35] Swedish director Erik Leijonborg will be behind the camera for Season 3, he has collaborated with Rapace on several Swedish TV-series.[36]

On 26 December 2018, the series was renewed for a fourth season by Netflix.[37]

Historical background[edit]

The main events of the reign of Alfred the Great and his heirs are well recorded, and a number of men called Uhtred ruled from Bamburgh Castle,[38] most notably Uhtred the Bold more than a century later.[39] The people identified as "Danes" came from many places of Denmark, including Southern Sweden and Norway which were Danish during the Viking era. Historians believe that the Danish invaders of Northumbria came from Jutland in Denmark, as mentioned in Cornwell's books, as well as some of the Danish islands and East Denmark (southern Sweden).

Ubba from Season One really existed. He is thought to have led a mixed force including Frisians and men from Ireland. The TV series Vikings has him born in Norway and the son of Ragnar Lodbrok. There are records that support this, but some historians doubt it.[40]

In each of his books, Bernard Cornwell has a section giving details of what is recorded historically, and what he has invented.

Release[edit]

The Last Kingdom premiered on 10 October 2015 in the United States on BBC America,[41] and was broadcast shortly after in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on 22 October 2015.[42] It became available online in the United States via Netflix on 6 July 2016.[43] It was added to Netflix on 28 December 2015 in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.[44][45] The first season was broadcast in the Spanish region of Catalonia on TV3 on 24 July 2017.[46]

The second season was released on Netflix in the U.S., Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Japan, Australia, and Portugal.[47] There were no plans at the time for broadcast of the Series 3 episodes by the BBC.[48]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The series has been met with a positive critical response. On Rotten Tomatoes, season 1 has a 87% approval based on reviews from 31 critics, with an average of 7.61/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Last Kingdom fuses beautiful cinematography and magnificent action sequences to create highly gratifying historical drama."[49] On Metacritic, season 1 has a score of 78/100 based on 15 reviews.[50] The second and the third series received 86% and 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively.[51][52]

Sam Wollaston reviewed the first episode in The Guardian and warned, "It's wise not to get too attached to anyone in The Last Kingdom."[53] Charlotte Runcie gave the opening episode 4 stars out of 5 in The Daily Telegraph. Wollaston and Runcie both remarked on the similarities between Last Kingdom and Game of Thrones.[54]

Sean O'Grady in The Independent found that some of the language gave the series "a satisfyingly earthy quality," but he thought that the plot was "a little convoluted".[55] The television reviewer for Private Eye was more critical, arguing that The Last Kingdom demonstrates how Game of Thrones "haunts the BBC", and that the series was directly derivative of both fantasy series and European dramas such as The Killing and Wallander, yet lacking the features that have made such series successful.[56]

Accusations of religious bias[edit]

Christian commentators point out that Christian characters are portrayed almost universally as hypocritical, lecherous, dull, and joyless. Pagans, on the other hand, have fun, drink endlessly, generally appealing to adolescent males. The English army is portrayed in a martial manner despite being composed of untrained farmers, which is why they generally lost battles. Pagan sorcery is seen to work; in contrast, Christians characters never get what they pray for. In real life, the Anglo-Saxons were motivated by Christianity to eventually defeat their better-trained invaders.[57][58][59]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Debnath, Neela (4 April 2018). "The Last Kingdom season 3 location: Where is The Last Kingdom filmed? Where is it set?". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Where is The Last Kingdom filmed?". Radio Times. 4 May 2017. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  3. ^ "BBC's Game of Thrones competitor, The Last Kingdom, filmed in the UK and Hungary". Radio Times. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  4. ^ Laura Prudom (9 July 2014). "'The Last Kingdom': BBC, Carnival Producing New Viking Drama". Variety. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  5. ^ "The Last Kingdom, Episode 1". patriciabracewell.com. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  6. ^ "The Last Kingdom Series 2". bbc.co.uk/mediacentre. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  7. ^ "The Last Kingdom season 3, review: a rise in blood and gore after move to Netflix". iNews. 19 November 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  8. ^ "The Last Kingdom, Series 3, Netflix review - idylls of the king". The Arts Desk. 23 November 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
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  10. ^ a b "Episode 1, Series 2, The Last Kingdom - BBC Two". BBC.
  11. ^ "Starke Magnus till "The last kingdom" - DN.SE". 14 July 2016.
  12. ^ ""The Last Kingdom" Episode #2.4 (TV Episode 2017)" – via www.imdb.com.
  13. ^ Rissmann, Marc. "Blues Vikings on the Set of @TheLastKingdom Season2 @emycox @netflix #thelastkingdom #netflix #brida #tekilpic.twitter.com/HPJIU5Jxqv".
  14. ^ "Christopher Sciueref". IMDb.
  15. ^ a b "Erik Madsen - United Agents". www.unitedagents.co.uk.
  16. ^ ParentHerald (30 July 2016). "'The Last Kingdom' Season 2 Spoilers: Sneak Peek From The Set (Photos)".
  17. ^ "Episode #2.1". 5 May 2017 – via www.imdb.com.
  18. ^ "Tibor Milos Krisko". IMDb.
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  20. ^ "Persbrandt tvingas tacka nej till storroll" [Persbrandt forced to turn down big role]. Aftonbladet (in Swedish). 11 November 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
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  39. ^ [https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Uhtred_(d.1016)_(DNB00) Uhtred (d.1016) (DNB00)
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  52. ^ The Last Kingdom at Rotten Tomatoes
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External links[edit]