In 872, the Danes invaded and toppled all of the separate kingdoms of England – all but Wessex; the last kingdom. Against this turbulent backdrop lives Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon), the son of a Saxon nobleman who was captured by the Danes during childhood and raised as one of their own. Now he’s all grown up, and following the massacre of his adoptive family, Uhtred decides there has never been a better time to claim back his birthright. However, in order to do this, he must tread a very dangerous path between both sides – the invading Danes and Alfred, King of Wessex – and with his loyalties forever being questioned by both, the struggle to recapture his ancestral lands is well and truly on.
Well, dear reader chums, here I present to you The Last Kingdom, quite possibly the best new show brought out by the BBC in the last two or three years. I mean, talk about unpredictable! My dad picked this one out after seeing Matthew MacFadyen was in it. ‘That could be good,’ he said, ‘that MacFadyen’s in it.’ – we’ve come to rather like his work thanks very much to Ripper Street, another of my favourites. He lasted all of about ten minutes before he was killed in battle. It was at that point we knew we were onto a good thing, after all, BBC2 had just killed off the man whose name they’d been selling this thing under for the week before showing the programme. As it turns out, we weren’t wrong. In fact, The Last Kingdom got better and better with every week that passed.
So, as I’ve just said, I expected to be writing about Matthew MacFadyen here, but after he only featured for about ten minutes, I am instead forced to write about the terrific performance by the gorgeous Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred. Ah, I’m gutted, obviously *smirks*. I did not have a clue who he was prior to watching this, however I shan’t be forgetting him in a hurry. Uhtred’s struggles were clearly evident in Dreymon’s performance as he battled with himself over which side his loyalties lay with, and no matter what happened, you always knew without a doubt who you wanted to come out on top. And come out on top was something that Uhtred knew how to do, even if sometimes he did so in a very roundabout way.
I’ve also already mentioned that the key thing with The Last Kingdom was the fact that you could never tell, or be even remotely certain of what was going to happen next. The writers were not a bit afraid to kill any of the main characters. Week in, week out, no one was guaranteed to return for the next episode which, in turn, ensured you would.
Another terrific feature of the programme was the amount of action there was. I suppose, really, I was to expect this seeing as it was a historical drama which meant that it was set way before health and safety became an issue with anyone, and therefore just about anything could be gotten away with in battle without the threat of any paperwork.
The whole eight hours was an absolute thrill-ride, and despite having never seen the show, I would say that The Last Kingdom lived up to the expectation that it would become the BBC’s answer to Game Of Thrones. I for one thoroughly enjoyed it, and am overjoyed to hear that it will return for a second season sometime next year.