A dirtier, hairier Chipping Norton set

Those Vikings were a funny lot, weren’t they?

By Philip Cunnington
Saturday, 24th October 2015, 9:00 am
Alexander Dreymon stars as Uhtred in BBC2s The Last Kingdom
Alexander Dreymon stars as Uhtred in BBC2s The Last Kingdom

All being called Ragnar or Ragnarsson, or Ragnar Ragnarsson, having hipster beards and man buns before such things were invented, and killing their wives as barns burn down around them.

From what I could make out in The Last Kingdom (BBC2, Thursdays, 9pm), one particularly bloodthirsty Nordic pillager was called Abba. He didn’t seem much of a dancing queen, but he was certainly keen on nailing people to things and dropping Saxon women from the rafters.

Anyway, these Vikings have come to Northumbria intent in taking over, and the Northumbrians are intent on stopping them. They seemed a bit lily-livered, these Dark Age Geordies, to be honest –none of this bare-chested bravado you see at St James’ Park – and they fell into a Viking trap and were slaughtered.

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Apart from young Uhtred, heir to one of the three lords of Northumbria, who was captured and put to work as a slave. Which didn’t seem like a bad thing, as once they’d finished slaughtering and pillaging, these Vikings liked farming and country pursuits – a bit like a hairier, dirtier Chipping Norton set.

Needless to say, this rural idyll couldn’t last, and soon Uhtred’s Viking protectors were being killed in awful ways, and the now grown-up Uhtred was swearing vengeance.

I’ve not seen Game of Thrones – I know, I know – but The Last Kingdom seemed grounded in reality, literally, given all the dirt on show.

It was a bit difficult keeping track of which Viking was which, apart from Rutger Hauer, giving it full Lurpak voice, who stole every scene he was in, even the one he was supposed to be dead in.

I think it’s going to be fun following this, especially as Alfred – before he was the Great – appears soon.

Meanwhile, The Returned (More4, Fridays, 9pm), well, returned, and hit its stride straight away.

Although it’s about people coming back from the dead, it’s not a zombie thing, but it is chilly, creepy, and really, really good.