An adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling book series by BAFTA nominated and
Royal Television Society award-winning writer Stephen Butchard
New York – July 9, 2014 – BBC AMERICA, Carnival Films – the Golden Globe® and Emmy® Award-winning producers of Downton Abbey – and BBC Two announced today that production will begin this fall on The Last Kingdom, a new historical 8 x 60 drama series.
BAFTA nominated and RTS award-winning writer Stephen Butchard, (Good Cop, Five Daughters, House of Saddam), will adapt Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling franchise “The Saxon Stories” for the screen. Cornwell is also known for his much-loved “Sharpe” novels that became the long-running TV series of the same name starring Sean Bean and aired on BBC AMERICA.
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, 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. Combining real historical figures and events with fictional characters, it is the story of how a people combined their strength under one of the most iconic kings of history in order to reclaim their land for themselves and build a place they call home.
Gareth Neame, Nigel Marchant and Stephen Butchard will serve as Executive Producers with Nick Murphy (Prey, Occupation), co-executive producing and directing multiple episodes and Chrissy Skinns (Mr Selfridge, Marchlands), will produce the show. The Commissioning Editor is Polly Hill for the BBC and Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, ordered the show. Perry Simon, General Manager, Channels, and Richard De Croce, SVP Programming, will oversee the series for BBC AMERICA.
“Cornwell’s Saxon novels combine historical figures and events with fiction in an utterly compelling way,” says 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.”
Richard De Croce, SVP Programming, BBC AMERICA adds, “We couldn’t be more pleased to be working with BBC Two and Carnival Films – a hugely successful British production company that really knows how to create a hit for the US. The Last Kingdom is an engrossing story of epic scale that will feed our audience’s appetite for excitement, smart storytelling and compelling characters.”
Ben Stephenson, Controller of Drama Commissioning, BBC, 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.”
BBC AMERICA delivers U.S. audiences high-quality, innovative and intelligent programming. Established in 1998, it has been the launch pad for talent embraced by American mainstream pop culture, including Ricky Gervais, Gordon Ramsay, Graham Norton, and successful programming formats including ground-breaking non-scripted television like Top Gear and top-rated science-fiction like Doctor Who. Owned by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, BBC AMERICA has attracted both critical acclaim and major awards including two Emmy® Awards, five Golden Globes® and eleven Peabody Awards. The channel attracts one of cable’s most affluent and educated audiences and is available on cable and satellite TV in 80 million homes. It broadcasts in both standard and high-definition, with content available On Demand across all major digital platforms. Online, www.bbcamerica.com is the place to go to dig deeper into pop culture with a British twist. Find out more by visiting www.press.bbcamerica.com or follow us on www.twitter.com/bbcamerica.
Carnival Films is a division of NBCUniversal International Television Production and the UK’s largest drama specialist, responsible for global TV sensation Downton Abbey, winner of two Golden Globes and ten Primetime Emmy Awards, and the most nominated non-US show in the history of the Emmys with a total of 39 nominations. Founded in 1978, Carnival has produced over 500 hours of popular drama including acclaimed mini-series Traffik, Rosemary and Thyme and Poirot. The company has also co-produced The Hollow Crown and produced David Nicholls’ The 7.39, David Hare’s political thrillers Page Eight, Turks & Caicos and Salting The Battlefield, the BAFTA award-winning William Boyd drama Any Human Heart, The Last Weekend, Dracula, Whitechapel and Hotel Babylon. The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies by Golden Globe and BAFTA winner Peter Morgan and directed by Roger Michell will transmit in 2014 on ITV. Downton Abbey is executive produced by Carnival’s Managing Director, Gareth Neame. In 2011, Carnival was recognized as Best UK Production Company at the Bulldog Awards and named Best Production Company at the 2012 Broadcast Awards.