Preview: The Last Kingdom, BBC 2

Matthew Macfadyen plays Lord Uhtred in BBC2's big-budget historical drama The Last Kingdom. Picture: Joss Barratt

Matthew Macfadyen plays Lord Uhtred in BBC2's big-budget historical drama The Last Kingdom. Picture: Joss Barratt

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THE spirit of Game of Thrones – or at least the desire to match its worldwide success with muscular storytelling and early history mythology – informs this big-budget, eight-part adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s best selling “Saxon” stories.

As a BBC America co-production, the cast includes talent from both sides of the Atlantic with the lead role taken by American Horror’s Alexander Dreymon , who plays Uhtred of Bebbanburg. Other notables include Emily Cox as Brida, Rutger Hauer as Ravn and Matthew Macfadyen as Lord Uhtred.

Set in the year 872, Uhtred, born the son of a Saxon nobleman, is orphaned by the Vikings and then kidnapped 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. Is he a Saxon or Viking?

As there are ancestral lands at stake, we can expect lots of battles, uneasy alliances, political scheming and betrayal, as well as love and romance.

Cornwell has form for books that work well on TV, as he wrote the Sharpe novels. This time round the drama has been adapted by Stephen Butchard, writer of Good Cop, with production by the makers of Downton Abbey.

Thursday, BBC2, 9pm

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