Written by on Jul 10, 2014. Posted in Production News

Carnival Films and BBC America to film historical miniseries The Last Kingdom

Carnival Films and BBC America are to co-produce new historical miniseries The Last Kingdom. Based on novels by Bernard Cornwell, the drama is likely to be similar in tone to Game of Thrones and Vikings, and will be set in the year 862 in the kingdoms that would become England.

The drama will follow the orphaned son of a Saxon nobleman who is raised by Vikings, while Alfred the Great defends Wessex from the invading Nordic race.

“Cornwell's Saxon novels combine historical figures and events with fiction in an utterly compelling way,” said Executive Producer Gareth Neame: “In the hands of [writer] 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.”

Added Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning: “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.”

Filming locations for The Last Kingdom have not yet been confirmed, but the UK’s TV tax credit was specifically designed to keep high-end productions of this sort in Britain.

The massive international success of Game of Thrones has revitalised historical TV drama and has been based in Northern Ireland since its launch in 2011. Vikings has since been launched by History Channel and will soon start filming its third season near Dublin.

The BBC has developed a production base in Wales that could prove suitable for The Last Kingdom, and the Swansea area continues to double for 15th Century Italy in David S Goyer’s fantasy drama Da Vinci’s Demons.

North of the border, time-travel miniseries Outlander is helping raise Scotland’s international profile. Scottish locations are an option for The Last Kingdom if the producers are willing to make use of retrofitted studio facilities.

(Vikings photo: History Channel; Da Vinci's Demons production stills: © 2013 Tonto Films and Television Limited)


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