Worldwide icon-chevron-right Why ‘The Last Kingdom’ is getting me through lockdown
The Last Kingdom
Adrienn Szabo/Carnival film & television

Why ‘The Last Kingdom’ is getting me through lockdown

Time Out London’s Culture editor Eddy Frankel on his small-screen happy place

By Eddy Frankel
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I am Uhtred, son of Uhtred. You, too, are Uhtred, son of Uhtred. We all are, because this ridiculous, over-the-top, ‘historical’ drama drags you so far back into Anglo-Saxon times that, before you know it, you’ll be stomping around Hyde Park with your shirt off starting fights with passing Danish tourists and downing pints of ale in your local inn like it’s AD899.

‘The Last Kingdom’ tells the story of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the son of a Northumberland noble (also called Uhtred, as you may have guessed), as he is kidnapped and subsequently adopted by stinking, rampaging Danes. He is raised as one of them, but – gasp! – what’s this bubbling up within him? Could it be a feeling of kinship with the cowardly Saxons? It bloody well is! And he will spend four seasons (and counting) trying to make sense of his dual allegiances, protecting King Alfred, but loving his Danish family at the same time. Oh, he’s so torn! So ripped, too. Seriously, Uhtred looks great without a shirt.

It’s like ‘Game of Thrones’ without the dragons, and it feels like a warm, safe fur blanket in front of a blazing hearth in the court of King Alfred

It’s full of historical tidbits that will leave you frantically googling what became of Aethelwold, Beocca and Aethelred as they have adventures in Wintanceaster, Eoferwic and Dunholm (Winchester, York and Durham). It’s a lovely mixture of drama, war and English history. It’s like ‘Game of Thrones’ without the dragons, and it feels like a warm, safe fur blanket in front of a blazing hearth in the court of King Alfred. A time before Covid. It was also a time juuuust before the Black Death, though, so, you know, don’t get too comfortable.

I’ve finished all four seasons now, so I must now sit broodingly by a lake and sharpen my sword until season five arrives, all while muttering each episode’s opening line: ‘I am Uhtred, son of Uhtred.’

‘The Last Kingdom’ is streaming on Netflix.

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