Saturday, 24 October 2015

Ships, Swords and vendettas in part one of The Last Kingdom on BBC2

The Last Kingdom, the new BBC adaptation of Bernard Cornwell's book looks to be a sprawling epic.

Young boy in Anglo Saxon times sees the oncoming Longboats arrive as the Danes set out to conquer Northumbria. His hard and almost emotionless Father, played by Wonderful Matthew Macfadyen prepares the troops. One of three three kings of the North country he sends eldest son out to scout the landing, but in his youthful exuberance he is too conspicuous and so the Danes make an example of him by presenting his head to his father at the Fort gates.

Re- christening his younger son Uhtred with his lost Son's name  and making him heir he  leaves him with his uncle as he goes into battle. Sadly the Uncle played by Joseph Millson in typically dastardly characterisation is power hungry and warns his henchman that should his brother fall, the child is to be despatched.

Instigating better warfare techniques and strategy the Danes easily win and after a skirmish with the bereaved child, he is picked up as a slave for being a little scrapper.

The Danes treat him well unlike the cold father and uncle who made him feel isolated, led by kindly Blind Rutger Hauer,patriarch and wiseman. He is adopted by the family after he saves the daughter of the warrior leader Lord Ragnor the indignity of a rape and his uncle come to ransom him.

As a young man he is away from the village when his Uncle attacks and his adopted family are killed in fire and so he declares his intention to bring down fiery retribution upon him. He is left with his fellow slave Brida and adopted sister to look after, the former kidnapped by a rival tribe.

Ian Hart is the priest come guardian who warns the child of his uncle's treachery and I presume will feature in future episodes.

Both actors playing Uthred are brilliant and I am certain that many female viewers will be attracted by Alexander Dreymon who might not seek out this kind of drama when they see him emerge from the river as an adult. 

It is a real shame that some of the big hitters have already gone to see Odin or the Lord God almighty, but this was a really good start to what I hope will be an absorbing saga.

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