The Last Kingdom (TV series)

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The Last Kingdom
Series title over dying flames
GenreHistorical drama
Based onThe Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell
Developed byStephen Butchard
Starringsee below
ComposerJohn Lunn
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes46 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producersStephen Butchard
Nigel Marchant
Gareth Neame
ProducerBen Murphy
Production locationsHungary, Wales
CinematographyChas Bain
EditorPaul Knight
Running time50–59 minutes
Production companyCarnival Film and Television
Release
Original network
Original release10 October 2015 (2015-10-10) –
March 9, 2022 (2022-03-09)
Chronology
Followed bySeven Kings Must Die

The Last Kingdom is a British historical fiction television series based on Bernard Cornwell's The Saxon Stories series of novels. The series was developed for television by Stephen Butchard, premiering on the 10 October 2015 on the BBC. In 2018 the show was acquired by Netflix.[1] The series lasted for a total of five seasons, with the final season airing on 9 March 2022. A feature-length sequel, titled Seven Kings Must Die, has been filmed for Netflix.

Plot[edit]

Series One[edit]

The first series roughly covers the events of The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman, the first and second novels in Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories, however they are condensed for the screen. In the year 866, the Great Heathen Army's arrival in Britain is about to redefine the relationship between Vikings and Anglo-Saxons. Following the 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 first season covers the years 866–78. The main protagonist (named Osbert in childhood) is re-baptized 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 stepmother survive. Uhtred and a Saxon girl named Brida are taken as slaves by Earl Ragnar to his home in Danish Northumbria. Ragnar comes to accept Uhtred as his own son, adopts him, and raises him as Uhtred Ragnarsson. 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 have spent the night in the woods tending a charcoal kiln. 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 father Ragnar's death, while simultaneously hoping to reclaim Bebbanburg his birthright 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.

Series Two[edit]

The second series roughly covers the happenings of Cornwell's third and fourth novels The Lords of the North and Sword Song. The second season covers the years 878 to 886, and shows Uhtred quests in Northumbria, and Wessex and Mercia conflict with the brothers Sigefrid and Eric.

This was the final season to air on the BBC, before moving to Netflix.

Series Three[edit]

Beginning with the third series, the show was solely produced by Netflix. The third series is based on Cornwell’s fifth and sixth novels The Burning Land and Death of Kings, however there are considerable plot changes compared to the previous seasons. The third season roughly covers the years 893 to 900.

These episodes cover the decline in King Alfred's health and the continuing conflict between the Christians and Danes. One reviewer indicated that Netflix had a positive effect on the series indicating: "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)".[2]

All ten episodes of series three appeared on Netflix on 19 November 2018.

Series Four[edit]

The fourth series is based on Cornwell’s seventh and eighth novels The Pagan Lord and The Empty Throne. Similar to series three, there are significant plot changes from the novels. The fourth season takes place around 901 to 912 and deals with Danish attacks and political struggles in Mercia and attacks on Winchester.

All ten episodes of series 4 appeared on Netflix on 26 April 2020.

Series Five[edit]

The fifth season was announced as the final season in 2021. It is based on Cornwell’s ninth and tenth novels Warriors of the Storm and The Flame Bearer. Similar to series three and four, there are significant plot changes from the novels.

All ten episodes of the final series appeared on Netflix on 9 March 2022.

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

Actor Character Series
1 2 3 4 5
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 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 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 Aelflaed Recurring Main
Harry Gilby Aethelstan Main
Patrick Robinson Father Benedict Main
Phia Saban Aelfwynn Main
Micki Stoltt Rǫgnvaldr Main
Harry Anton Bresal Main
Ryan Quarmby Cynlaef Main
Jaakko Ohtonen Wolland Main
Ossian Perret Wihtgar Recurring Main
Ewan Horrocks Aelfweard Main
Sonya Cassidy Eadgifu Main
Rod Hallett King Constantin Main
Bamshad Abedi-Amin Yahya Main
Ross Anderson Domnal Main

Recurring[edit]

Episodes[edit]

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)
5109 March 2022 (2022-03-09)

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The series started shooting in November 2014.[7][8] It is produced by Carnival Films for BBC Two and BBC America. Nick Murphy (Prey, Occupation) is co-executive producing and directing multiple episodes.[9] 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,[10] with most scenes at the eight acres near Budapest owned by Korda Studios[11] with its Medieval Village Set and surrounding mountains, forests and lakes.[12]

Filming for the second series began in Budapest in June 2016. Richard Rankin, Gerard Kearns,[13] Thure Lindhardt, Millie Brady, Erik Madsen,[14] and Peter McDonald joined the cast.[15] In August 2016, Aftonbladet reported that Swedish actors Björn Bengtsson[16] and Magnus Samuelsson[17] 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.[18][19][20]

In April 2018, Netflix confirmed that a third series was in production, based on the books The Lords of the North and Sword Song,[21] which would air exclusively on the streaming service, and Bernard Cornwell indicated that he had been offered a cameo appearance.[22] Swedish actor Ola Rapace joined the cast for series 3, as Jarl Harald Bloodhair.[23][24] Swedish director Erik Leijonborg was behind the camera for series 3; he has collaborated with Rapace on several Swedish TV series.[25]

On 26 December 2018, the series was renewed for a fourth series by Netflix.[26][27] On 7 July 2020, the series was renewed for a fifth series by Netflix.[1] On 30 April 2021, it was announced that the series would conclude with the fifth series.[28] Filming for season 5 wrapped in June 2021.[29]

The final season will be followed by a feature-length film titled Seven Kings Must Die, whose filming finished on 19 March 2022.[30][31][32]

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,[33] most notably Uhtred the Bold more than a century later.[34] 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).[35]

Release[edit]

The first series of eight episodes premiered on 10 October 2015 in the United States on BBC America,[36] and was broadcast shortly after in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on 22 October 2015.[37] It became available online in the United States via Netflix on 6 July 2016.[38] It was added to Netflix on 28 December 2015 in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.[39][40] The first series was broadcast in the Spanish region of Catalonia on TV3 on 24 July 2017.[41]

The second and third series were released on Netflix in the US, Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Japan, Australia, and Portugal.[42][43]

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 and final season on 7 July 2020.[44][28] On 9 February 2022, it was announced that the fifth season would be released on 9 March 2022.[45]

Reception[edit]

The series has been met with a positive critical response. On Rotten Tomatoes, series one has an 87% approval rating 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".[46] On Metacritic, series 1 has a score of 78/100 based on 15 reviews.[47] On Rotten Tomatoes, the second series received 86% (7 reviews) and the third series received 100% (7 reviews).[48][49]

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".[50] Charlotte Runcie gave the opening episode four out of five in The Daily Telegraph, writing that the series had "satisfyingly high production values, a bloodthirsty appetite for violence and a proper cliffhanger."[51] Wollaston and Runcie both remarked on the similarities between The Last Kingdom and Game of Thrones.[50][51] Kari Croop of Common Sense Media also gave the series 4/5 stars, writing: "With high production values, strong writing, and compelling characters, this series rivals some of the best and bloodiest epics on TV".[52] Dennis Perkins of The A.V. Club gave the first season a grade of B+, writing: "BBC America’s sprawling, arresting eight-part historical miniseries The Last Kingdom proves that there’s room enough on television for more than one Viking invasion."[53]

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".[54] 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.[55]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kanter, Jake (7 July 2020). "'The Last Kingdom renewed for season 5 at Netflix". Netflix Junkie. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  2. ^ "The Last Kingdom season 3, review: a rise in blood and gore after move to Netflix". iNews. 19 November 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  3. ^ "The Last Kingdom begins shooting series two". Digital Spy. 9 June 2016.
  4. ^ "Starke Magnus till "The last kingdom" – DN.SE". Dagens Nyheter. 14 July 2016.
  5. ^ Rissmann, Marc. "Blues Vikings on the Set of @TheLastKingdom Season2 @emycox @netflix #thelastkingdom #netflix #brida #tekilpic.twitter.com/HPJIU5Jxqv".
  6. ^ "'The Last Kingdom' Season 2 Spoilers: Sneak Peek From The Set (Photos)". ParentHerald.com. 30 July 2016.
  7. ^ "BBC Two, BBC America and the Golden Globe® and Emmy® award-winning producers of Downton Abbey, Carnival Films, have announced that filming has begun on The Last Kingdom". BBC Media Centre. 24 November 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  8. ^ "Persbrandt tvingas tacka nej till storroll" [Persbrandt forced to turn down big role]. Aftonbladet (in Swedish). 11 November 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  9. ^ "BBC Two announces new drama series, The Last Kingdom". BBC Media Centre. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Where is The Last Kingdom filmed?". Radio Times. 4 May 2017. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  12. ^ "BBC's Game of Thrones competitor, The Last Kingdom, filmed in the UK and Hungary". Radio Times. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Gerard Kearns – United Agents". www.unitedagents.co.uk.
  14. ^ "Erik Madsen – United Agents". www.unitedagents.co.uk.
  15. ^ "The Last Kingdom begins shooting series two with Richard Rankin joining the cast". digitalspy.com. 9 June 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  16. ^ "Svensken får ny stor roll i vikingaserien". Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  17. ^ "This just in: Magnus Samuelsson klar för "The last kingdom" – Nöjesbladets TV-koll". 14 July 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  18. ^ "Netflix to co-produce season two of the last kingdom". worldscreen.com. 9 June 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  19. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (9 June 2016). "Netflix Joins 'The Last Kingdom' As Co-Producer of Historical Epic's Season 2". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  20. ^ "The Last Kingdom". Facebook.
  21. ^ Debnath, Neela (16 March 2017). "The Last Kingdom: Alexander Dreymon reveals 'horrible experience' on set during filming". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  22. ^ Debniath, Neela (26 October 2018). "The Last Kingdom season 3 Netflix release date, cast, plot, trailer". Daily Express. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  23. ^ Debnath, Neela (25 September 2018). "The Last Kingdom season 3 cast: Who is playing Bloodhair? Who is Ola Rapace?". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  24. ^ "Ola Rapace får stor skurkroll i Netflix-serien "The Last Kingdom"". MovieZine. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  25. ^ "Curtis Brown". www.curtisbrown.co.uk. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  26. ^ "'The Last Kingdom' Season 4: Uhtred Calls His Troops To Begin Work". IB Times. 26 December 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  27. ^ "The Last Kingdom Season 4 New Cast, Plot, Release Date and Exciting Expectations". 7 January 2020.
  28. ^ a b Ausiello, Michael (30 April 2021). "The Last Kingdom to End With Season 5". TV Line.
  29. ^ "The Last Kingdom Season 5: Netflix Release Date & Everything We Know So Far". What's on Netflix. 17 September 2021.
  30. ^ Goldbart, Max (24 October 2021). "Netflix's 'The Last Kingdom' Feature In The Works, 'Seven Kings Must Die' Filming To Begin Next Year". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  31. ^ Vourlias, Christopher (29 March 2022). "'The Last Kingdom' Producers Reflect on 'An End of an Era' as Netflix Series Wraps". Variery. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  32. ^ @TheLastKingdom (19 March 2022). "That's a wrap for Seven Kings Must Die and a final series wrap for The Last Kingdom We can't wait for you all to see it… Fun fact: the total number of shoot days from season 1 to today is 663! #TheLastKingdom" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  33. ^ Hughes, David (23 November 2018). "The Last Kingdom: how historically accurate is the Netflix show and was Uhtred real?". inews.co.uk. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  34. ^ Hunt, William. "Uhtred (d.1016)" – via Wikisource.
  35. ^ ‘Hiberno-Norwegians’ and ‘Anglo-Danes’: anachronistic ethnicities and Viking-Age England[1]
  36. ^ Bibel, Sara (21 July 2015). "Drama 'The Last Kingdom' to Premiere Saturday, October 10 on BBC America". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  37. ^ Brown, Maggie (17 October 2015). "Bernard Cornwell: BBC made The Last Kingdom due to its 'interesting echoes of today'". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  38. ^ "The Last Kingdom". Netflix. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  39. ^ "Is The Last Kingdom on Netflix Canada?". netflixable.com. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  40. ^ "The Last Kingdom / Season 1 – Netflix Canada". instantwatcher.com. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  41. ^ "TV3 presenta "The Last Kingdom"". ccma.cat. 7 July 2017.
  42. ^ "'The Last Kingdom' Season 2 Release Date Rumors: Uhtred to Lead the Saxon Forces, Reclaim His Fate'". The Christian Post. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  43. ^ "'The Last Kingdom season 3 Netflix release date, cast, plot, trailer'". The Daily Express. 29 October 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  44. ^ Kanter, Jake (7 July 2020). "'The Last Kingdom renewed for season 5 at Netflix". Netflix Junkie. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  45. ^ "'The Last Kingdom' Season 5 Trailer Reveals One Final Battle for Glory". Collider. 9 February 2022. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  46. ^ The Last Kingdom at Rotten Tomatoes
  47. ^ The Last Kingdom at Metacritic Edit this at Wikidata
  48. ^ The Last Kingdom: Season 2 at Rotten Tomatoes
  49. ^ The Last Kingdom: Season 3 at Rotten Tomatoes
  50. ^ a b Wollaston, Sam (23 October 2015). "The Last Kingdom review: The Vikings are here – and it's wise not to get too attached to anyone". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  51. ^ a b Runcie, Charlotte (23 October 2015). "The Last Kingdom, BBC Two, review: 'the thinking person's Game of Thrones'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  52. ^ Croop, Kari (16 October 2015). "The Last Kingdom - TV Review". Common Sense Media. Retrieved 20 November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  53. ^ Perkins, Dennis (9 October 2015). "The epic but human The Last Kingdom proves there's always room for more Vikings". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 20 November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  54. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  55. ^ 'Eye TV', The Private Eye 1404, p. 14.

External links[edit]