Better than Mrs Brown's Boys

Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) prepares for the final battle in The Last Kingdom
Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) prepares for the final battle in The Last Kingdom
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The words “will return for another series next year” can often strike fear into the heart of the innocent TV viewer.

When heard at the end of Mrs Brown’s Boys, for instance, it would be all too easy to throw up your hands and exclaim “I don’t know what I pay my licence fee for!”

If the cheery announcer tells you that “Midsomer Murders will return”, it’s enough to make you hurl the remote control straight through the screen.

And don’t get me started on what happens when I hear of a new series for Citizen Khan.

But, this week, there was a rare chance to welcome the news of a series returning. The Last Kingdom (BBC2, Thursdays, 9pm) came to the end of its run, and many of the loose ends has been tidied up, the action had come to a suitable climax, and the story of Uhtred – son of Uhtred, father of Uhtred, quite possibly second cousin of Uhtred – could have come to a neat conclusion.

Thankfully, The Last Kingdom will return, to continue the saga of Uhtred and his battles with the invading Danes.

This week’s final episode began in stately fashion, as King Alfred came out of hiding in the marshes around the Severn, sending out messengers to gather troops for a final, decisive reckoning with the Vikings.

Before battle, however, Uhtred learned of a family tragedy, and Alfred had to deal with a traitor in his midst.

Compared to previous episodes, this one seemed to meander a little, with lots of horse-riding and portentous chatting.

But then came the battle, and what a glorious, bloody, raucous thing it was.

Blades sliced through necks, torsos and legs with gay abandon, we got an up-close-and-personal view of Dark Ages military tactics, and there was a gruesome beheading.

By the end, Uhtred had gained the respect of Alfred and his Wessex knights, but had lost much more, and was left to embark on path “north, to blood feuds, revenge and Bebbenburg”.

I can’t wait to follow him there.