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
Starringsee below
ComposerJohn Lunn
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series4
No. of episodes36 (list of episodes)
Executive producersStephen Butchard
Nigel Marchant
Gareth Neame
ProducerChrissy Skinns
Production locationsHungary, Wales
CinematographyChas Bain
EditorPaul Knight
Running time58–59 minutes
Production companyCarnival Film and Television
Original network
First shown inUnited Kingdom
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. It premiered in 2015 on BBC America, BBC Two and later in 2018 on Netflix.[1]


The year is 866, and the Great Heathen Army's arrival in Britain is about to redefine the relationship between Vikings and Anglo-Saxons. Following establishment of Danish rule in Jórvík and East Anglia, the show largely focuses on the resistance of the Kingdom of Wessex to ongoing Viking incursions to Southern England. The story covers about 40–45 years by the end of season 4. Season 1 covers the years 866–878, season 2 from 878 to 886, season 3 from 893 to 900, and season 4 takes place about 901 to 912.[citation needed]

The fictional protagonist is Uhtred of Bebbanburg. An earl of that name lived and ruled Bebbanburg (Bamburgh Castle) and Northumbria during the reign of Æthelred II, though about a century after the setting of The Last Kingdom. When Æthelred had the ealdorman of Southern Northumbria, Ælfhelm of York, murdered in 1006, Uhtred the Bold was made earl of a united Northumbria (and likely ealdorman of York), his seat at Bebbanburg. He spent much of his time defending the northern border from the Scots. He fought loyally beside the Anglo-Saxons against the Danes and with Edmund Ironside. In 1016 after Cnut came to power, Cnut had Earl Uhtred killed, along with 40 other Saxon nobles, probably on Christmas Day.[2] In Bernard Cornwell's series he adds a 'historical note' at the end, in which, especially in the first book, he mentions that Uhtred the Bold was his ancestor. He took the liberty of installing Uhtred earlier in history.[3]

The protagonist (named Osbert in childhood) is re-baptised as Uhtred after his elder brother Uhtred is killed by the Danes; his father, along with other Saxon noblemen of Northumbria, are killed in battle against the 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. Time passes, and Ragnar's daughter Thyra is about to be married, but fellow Danes attack the night before the wedding and set fire to the hall in which the family is sleeping. Ragnar is burned alive, and Thyra taken as a slave. Only Uhtred and Brida escape, as they were away in the woods all night making charcoal. The attackers are led by Kjartan, a disgruntled Viking who had been banished by Ragnar from his lands years earlier for an offence 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 to keep Bebbanburg for himself. Uhtred is forced to choose between the kingdom of his ancestors and the people who have raised him, and his loyalties are constantly tested.[4]

The first series roughly covers the events of Cornwell's novels The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman, although they are condensed for the screen.[5] The second series covers the happenings of Cornwell's novels The Lords of the North and Sword Song.[6] Series 3 is based on The Burning Land and Death of Kings, but with considerable plot changes.

The third series' ten 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 series was written by Stephen Butchard, and 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] All ten episodes of series 4 appeared on Netflix on 26 April 2020.[9] As in series 3, there are significant plot differences to the books.



Actor Character Series
1 2 3 4
Alexander Dreymon Uhtred Main
David Dawson King Alfred Main
Emily Cox Brida Main
Tobias Santelmann Ragnar the Younger Main
Adrian Bower Leofric Main Recurring
Thomas W. Gabrielsson Guthrum Main
Simon Kunz Odda the Elder Main
Harry McEntire Aethelwold Main
Rune Temte Ubba Main
Joseph Millson Aelfric Main Main
Brian Vernel Odda the Younger Main
Amy Wren Mildrith Main
Charlie Murphy Iseult Main
Ian Hart Father Beocca Main
Eliza Butterworth Aelswith Recurring Main
Thure Lindhardt Guthred Main
Eva Birthistle Hild Recurring Main
Gerard Kearns Halig Recurring Main
David Schofield Abbot Eadred Main
Peri Baumeister Gisela Main
Peter McDonald Brother Trew Main
Mark Rowley Finan Main
Alexandre Willaume [da] Kjartan Recurring Main
Julia Bache-Wiig [no] Thyra Recurring Main
Ole Christoffer Ertvaag [no] Sven Recurring Main
Björn Bengtsson Sigefrid Main
Cavan Clerkin Father Pyrlig Main
Arnas Fedaravičius Sihtric Main
Christian Hillborg [fi] Erik Main
Jeppe Beck Laursen [no] Haesten Main
Toby Regbo Aethelred Main
Millie Brady Aethelflaed Main
James Northcote Aldhelm Main
Adrian Bouchet Steapa Main
Ewan Mitchell Osferth Main
Simon Stenspil [da] Dagfinn Main
Timothy Innes Edward Main
Thea Sofie Loch Næss Skade Main
Ola Rapace Earl Sigurd "Bloodhair" Main
Magnus Bruun Cnut Main
Adrian Schiller Aethelhelm the Elder Main
Kevin Eldon Bishop Erkenwald Main
Jamie Blackley Eardwulf Main
Stefanie Martini Eadith Main
Finn Elliot Young Uhtred Main
Ruby Hartley Stiorra Main
Richard Dillane Ludeca Main
Dorian Lough Burgred Main
Steffan Rhodri King Hywel Dda Main
Nigel Lindsay Rhodri Main
Eysteinn Sigurðarson Sigtryggr Main
Amelia Clarkson Ælflæd Recurring Main



SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
1810 October 2015 (2015-10-10)28 November 2015 (2015-11-28)BBC Two
2816 March 2017 (2017-03-16)4 May 2017 (2017-05-04)
31019 November 2018 (2018-11-19)Netflix
41026 April 2020 (2020-04-26)



The series started shooting in November 2014.[20][21] It is produced by Carnival Films for BBC Two and BBC America. Nick Murphy (Prey, Occupation) is co-executive producing and directing multiple episodes.[22] For portrayals of the Vikings at sea, the Viking ship replica Havhingsten fra Glendalough was used.[citation needed] The series is filmed primarily in Hungary,[23] with most scenes at the eight acres near Budapest owned by Korda Studios[24] with its Medieval Village Set and surrounding mountains, forests and lakes.[25]

Filming for the second series began in Budapest in June 2016. Richard Rankin, Gerard Kearns,[26] Thure Lindhardt, Millie Brady, Erik Madsen,[16] and Peter McDonald will join the cast.[27] In August 2016, Aftonbladet reported that Swedish actors Björn Bengtsson[28] and Magnus Samuelsson[29] 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.[30][31][32][33][34]

In April 2018, Netflix confirmed that a third series was in production, based on the books The Lords of the North and Sword Song,[35] which would air exclusively on the streaming service, and Bernard Cornwell indicated that he had been offered a cameo appearance.[36] Swedish actor Ola Rapace joined the cast for series 3, as Jarl Harald Bloodhair.[37][38] Swedish director Erik Leijonborg was behind the camera for series 3, he has collaborated with Rapace on several Swedish TV-series.[39]

On 26 December 2018, the series was renewed for a fourth series by Netflix.[40][41]

On 7 July 2020, the series was renewed for a fifth series by Netflix.[1]

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,[42] most notably Uhtred the Bold more than a century later.[43] The people identified as "Danes" came from many places in and around Denmark, including Southern Sweden and Norway. 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).[44]


The first series of eight episodes premiered on 10 October 2015 in the United States on BBC America,[45] and was broadcast shortly after in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on 22 October 2015.[46] It became available online in the United States via Netflix on 6 July 2016.[47] It was added to Netflix on 28 December 2015 in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.[48][49] The first series was broadcast in the Spanish region of Catalonia on TV3 on 24 July 2017.[50]

The second and third series were released on Netflix in the US, Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Japan, Australia, and Portugal.[51][52]

Netflix was the sole distributor of the third series of ten episodes, produced by Carnival Films. On 26 December 2018, Netflix renewed the show for a fourth series, released on 26 April 2020 and once again produced by Carnival Films. It was renewed for a fifth series on 7 July 2020.[53]


The series has been met with a positive critical response. On Rotten Tomatoes, series one has an 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".[54] On Metacritic, series 1 has a score of 78/100 based on 15 reviews.[55] The second and the third series received 86% and 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively.[56][57]

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".[58] Charlotte Runcie gave the opening episode four out of five in The Daily Telegraph. Wollaston and Runcie both remarked on the similarities between Last Kingdom and Game of Thrones.[59]

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".[60] 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.[61]


  1. ^ a b Kanter, Jake (7 July 2020). "'The Last Kingdom renewed for season 5 at Netflix". Netflix Junkie. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  2. ^ Stenton, Frank (2001). Ango-Saxon England (3rd Edition). Oxford, UK: Oxford Univ. Press. pp. 390, 418–19, 509. ISBN 978-0192801395.
  3. ^ Cornwell, Bernard (2005). The Last Kingdom. New York, USA: Harper Collins. pp. End piece. ISBN 978-0060530518.
  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". Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  6. ^ "The Last Kingdom Series 2". Retrieved 9 June 2016.
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  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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  13. ^ ""The Last Kingdom" Episode #2.4 (TV Episode 2017)" – via
  14. ^ Rissmann, Marc. "Blues Vikings on the Set of @TheLastKingdom Season2 @emycox @netflix #thelastkingdom #netflix #brida".
  15. ^ "Christopher Sciueref". IMDb.
  16. ^ a b "Erik Madsen - United Agents".
  17. ^ ParentHerald (30 July 2016). "'The Last Kingdom' Season 2 Spoilers: Sneak Peek From The Set (Photos)".
  18. ^ "Episode #2.1". 5 May 2017 – via
  19. ^ "Tibor Milos Krisko". IMDb.
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  21. ^ "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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  31. ^ "The Last Kingdom Renewed For Season 2 By BBC & BBC America!". 14 December 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
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  34. ^ "Home". The Last Kingdom.
  35. ^ Debnath, Neela (16 March 2017). "The Last Kingdom: Alexander Dreymon reveals 'horrible experience' on set during filming". Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  36. ^ Debniath, Neela (26 October 2018). "The Last Kingdom season 3 Netflix release date, cast, plot, trailer". Daily Express. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  37. ^ Debnath, Neela (25 September 2018). "The Last Kingdom season 3 cast: Who is playing Bloodhair? Who is Ola Rapace?". Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  38. ^ "Ola Rapace får stor skurkroll i Netflix-serien "The Last Kingdom"". MovieZine. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  39. ^ "Curtis Brown". Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  40. ^ "'The Last Kingdom' Season 4: Uhtred Calls His Troops To Begin Work". IB Times. 26 December 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
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  60. ^ O'Grady, Sean (22 October 2015). "The Last Kingdom, TV review: This Viking saga is less silly than Game of Thrones – and less exciting, too". The Independent. London. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  61. ^ 'Eye TV', The Private Eye 1404, p. 14.

External links[edit]