The first series premiered on BBC America and on BBC Two in the UK in 2015, followed by a BBC / Netflix joint series two in 2017. The BBC then pulled out of the historical drama and let Netflix take the reigns alone. Not only is Netflix the new home of the series but they are also extending the season from eight to 10 episodes. The stream giant will release all the new episodes on November 19, so you won’t have to watch the carnage with your grandparents during Christmas. The Last Kingdom is a TV adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories novels (of which 11 have been published so far). The story follows the main character, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a Saxon-born warrior raised by Vikings.
When we last saw Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) in season two, he was on his way to the north to join his Danish brother Ragnar (Tobias Santelmann), whose role in the new season has been expanded from the first seasons. In season three, Uhtred is desperate to avenge his father’s death and reclaim Bebbanburg from his uncle. Season three was officially announced on April 4th, 2018, following an October 23 to May 2018 production schedule in Budapest, Hungary.
Returning characters and cast include David Dawson as King Alfred the Great, Eliza Butterworth as Alfred’s wife Aelswith, James Northcote as Aldhelm, Jeppe Beck Laursen as Haesten, Henrik Lundström as Rollo, Cavan Clerkin as Father Pyrlig, Adrian Bouchet as Steapa, Emily Cox as Brida and Ewan Mitchell as Osferth.
Season three will of course feature some new characters as well; Ola Rapace (Bond: Skyfall) plays Harald Bloodhair, Timothy Innes will be seen as Edward, Alfred’s heir, and Thea Sofie Loch Næss plays Skade. Skade is an important new character in the coming episodes, if the novels are anything to go by. In the original stories, Skade and Uhtred are locked in a complex cat and mouse relationship. Skade tries to get the upper hand, being a fierce and skilled warrior who fears no one. The young Norwegian actress previously appeared in the Viking-ish historical drama The Last King (original title: Birkebeinerne) in 2016. A surprise guest role is the author himself, Bernard Cornwell, who will do a cameo in one episode.
The Last Kingdom has a good track record in casting Scandinavians as Vikings; Rapace and Næss were already mentioned, and Christian Hillborg, Ole Christoffer Ertvaag, Thomas Gabrielsson and Rune Temte have all graced the screens, giving the Nordic characters more credibility. Norwegian actress Julia Bache-Wiig also returns in season three as Thyra, the daughter of Earl Ragnar. In the previous stories, she was kidnapped by Sven but saved by Uhtred, preventing her being sexually assaulted. Cnut Ranulfson is another new character, played a Dane, Magnus Bruun.
The premise of the show is this: The year is 872, and many of the separate kingdoms of what we now know as England have fallen to invading Vikings, leaving the great kingdom of Wessex standing alone and defiant under the command of King Alfred. Against this turbulent backdrop lives our hero, Uhtred. Born the son of a Saxon nobleman, he is captured by the Danes 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 Dane? On a quest to reclaim 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, recapture his ancestral lands.
Thea Sofie Loch Næss (Skade) gallery.
Season three is expected to be largely based on the 5th and 6th novels in Cornwell’s series, The Burning Land and Death of Kings. The official synopsis reads: “The new season will see King Alfred consider his legacy, as his dream of uniting the kingdoms of England is jeopardised by incessant Danish attacks. Alfred knows that the only man with the power to crush the uprising and secure the Wessex dynasty is the great warrior and hero Uhtred, but when their volatile relationship reaches breaking point, Uhtred must confront the difficult truth: if he deserts Alfred’s cause, everything he has fought for will be forever changed.”
Directors for season three include Erik Leijonborg (Maria Wern, Farang – also starring Rapace), Jon East (Downton Abbey, Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, Beowulf, Jamestown), Edward Bazalgette (Poldark, Doctor Who, Endeavour, Vera). The series is written by Stephen Butchard, based on Bernard Cornwell’s original novels.
If you don’t already have Netflix, you can subscribe for free for one month and watch the entire series before you commit to a subscription (the first two seasons are available in many, but not all countries). The Last Kingdom season premiere is on November 19.
Harry McEntire, Alexander Dreymon, Toby Regbo and Emily Cox talks about the new season.