BBC America is hoping to get into the medieval drama market with a new Game Of Thrones-esque original series, The Last Kingdom. Like Game Of Thrones, it’ll be based on a popular ongoing book series, Bernard Cornwell’s “The Saxon Stories,” which currently consists of seven volumes (the first is subtitled The Last Kingdom) with an eighth expected in October. Downton Abbey producers Gareth Neame and Nigel Marchant will serve as executive producers, while Stephen Butchard (Good Cop) will write the adaptation. The eight-episode series will be a co-production between BBC America and BBC Two. The Last Kingdom will combine “real historical figures and events with fictional character”—although sadly, it sounds like none of those fictional characters will be dragons or ice zombies.
The Last Kingdom is set in 872, when invading Vikings had control over a large portion of England, and the Kingdom of Wessex, under King Alfred, was the sole force defending the island. (In the ultimate example of history being written by the victors, both Alfred’s defense against invaders and William of Normandy’s invasion of England are hailed as moments of English unification.) The show will follow Uhtred, the son of a Saxon nobleman who’s kidnapped and raised by Vikings. That dual identity is the heart of the show’s drama, as Uhtred must decide where his loyalties lie. Interestingly, the show will play as the flip-side to History’s Vikings, which examines Viking culture around their first attack on Britain in 793.
The Game Of Thrones comparisons aren’t limited to the series’ medieval settings. Cornwell’s previous series, Sharpe, was also adapted into a successful British TV show that starred Game Of Thrones’ Sean Bean, possibly increasing the chances that Bean could be cast on The Last Kingdom. (At least, for a little while.)