BBC Two announces new drama series, The Last Kingdom

An historic battle of identity coming to BBC Two

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BBC Two has commissioned a new 8-part drama, The Last Kingdom, a co-production between Carnival Films and BBC America.

The series is an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling series of books ‘The Saxon Stories’ by BAFTA nominated and RTS award-winning writer Stephen Butchard (Good Cop, Five Daughters).

Set in the year 872, when many of the separate kingdoms of what we now know as England have fallen to the invading Vikings, the great kingdom of Wessex has been left standing alone and defiant under the command of King Alfred the Great.

Against this turbulent backdrop lives our hero, Uhtred. Born the son of a Saxon nobleman, he 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. What is he – Saxon or Viking? 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, seek to recapture his ancestral lands.

The Last Kingdom, made by Carnival Films (Downton Abbey), is a show full of heroic deeds and epic battles but with a thematic depth that embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love, loyalty and our universal search for identity.

Gareth Neame, Nigel Marchant and Stephen Butchard will serve as executive producers with Nick Murphy co-executive producing and directing multiple episodes and Chrissy Skinns producing the show.

“Cornwell’s Saxon novels combine historical figures and events with fiction in an utterly compelling way,” said Gareth Neame.

“In the hands of Stephen Butchard we believe it 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.”

Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, says: “I hope The Last Kingdom will expand BBC Two’s distinctive portfolio of drama. It’s an epic narrative with an extraordinary creative team. It will feel like nothing else on television, with all of the scale and intrigue of the best fantasy stories but the reality of fact.”

The Last Kingdom will begin production in the autumn.