BBC Two has announced a new adaptation of Sharpe creator Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling series of books, The Saxon Stories.
Adapted by Stephen Butchard (Good Cop, House Of Saddam), the eight-part historical drama series is described by the BBC as “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”.
The Last Kingdom is a co-production with BBC America and Downton Abbey makers Carnival Films.
The official synopsis reads: “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 begins filming this autumn.
Executive producer Gareth Neame commented: “Cornwell’s Saxon novels combine historical figures and events with fiction in an utterly compelling way.”
He added: “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, said: “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.”