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BBC America, BBC Two and Carnival Films are teaming up to bring Bernard Cornwell's best-selling book series The Saxon Stories to the small screen. BBC America announced the news today that Stephen Butchard is set to adapt Cornwell's stories for a series titled The Last Kingdom. The announcement promises a series full of heroic deeds and epic battles, packed with politics, religion, warfare, courage, love, loyalty and "our universal search for identity."
Published in 2004, The Last Kingdom is the first book in a series of novels by Bernard Cornwell. The author has put out new installments almost every year since, with the eighth book in the series set to debut this October. So there's no shortage of source material to work with here. The TV adaptation is being executive produced by Gareth Neame, Nigel Marchant and Stephen Butchard. Here's the official description BBC America released with their announcement:
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.
In telling the story of people uniting against an iconic historical king, The Last Kingdom will combine actual historical events and people with fictional characters.
It sounds like an ambitious project, but one that could work out well for BBC America, if everything comes together, including the casting, especially as it relates to the lead character, Uhtred. BBC America's announcement notes that Bernard Cornwell is also the author of the books on which the series Sharpe was based. Sharpe starred Sean Bean, though it's unlikely that the Game of Thrones actor would be available to star in this adaptation, as he's likely busy with his upcoming new TNT drama Legends. Production on the 8-episode first season is expected to begin this fall, so we'll have to keep an ear out for casting announcements between then and now.
At BBC America, The Last Kingdom joins a growing slate of promising scripted programming, which already includes The Musketeers, Orphan Black, and Doctor Who.