There is a beginning to everything, and the birth of England under the rule of one King is the focus of the BBC’s exciting new series, The Last Kingdom.
While season 2 is currently being filmed, co-produced by the BBC and Netflix, the first season of this period viking drama is released this month on Blu-ray and DVD.
The series is based on the first two of 10 novels by Bernard Cornwell. The eight-episode season begins in the year 866AD when Saxons in the Kingdom of Northumbria are overwhelmed and slaughtered by a viking invasion. Two children are spared, a girl named Brida, and the 10-year old heir to the Kingdom, Uhtred. When the boy saves the Earl’s daughter, he is adopted by the Earl and raised as a Dane.
The pilot episode of The Last Kingdom is the backstory for what’s to come, with young Uhtred morphing into his adult self in the closing moments. In future episodes he will decide if his loyalties lie with those who raised him or those they killed when he was a lad.
The production qualities of The Last Kingdom are everything that can be expected from a BBC historical drama. Epic in nature, the gloomy landscape, gritty action and period costumes combine to create a gripping portrayal of life and loyalties in that era. The fictional storyline interweaves with actual historical events, grounding the political playground in reality.
While key players change after the opening episode, in the pilot we see Tom Taylor as the young Uhtred, a character whose adult self will be portrayed by Alexander Dreymon in later episodes. Peter Gantzler is the viking Earl Ragnar and Matthew Macfadyen is the doomed Saxon King of Bebbanburg.
With well-choreographed fight sequences and a quickly evolving storyline, The Last Kingdom holds promise for a very satisfying and riveting action/drama.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 8
The Last Kingdom Season 1 is out now on Blu-ray and DVD.