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BBC, BBC America order epic period drama from Downton Producer

UK pubcaster the BBC and US cable net BBC America have commissioned The Last Kingdom, an epic period drama based on Bernard Cornwell’s bestselling book series The Saxon Stories.

NBCUniversal-owned Carnival Films, the producer of Downton Abbey, will make the eight-part drama, with production starting this autumn.

The show will be set in 872 in an England largely occupied by the Vikings. The main protagonist will be Uhtred, the son of a Saxon nobleman who is raised by the Vikings. It will combine real historic events with fictional characters.

BBC drama controller Ben Stephenson ordered the series and BBC America general manager Perry Simon will oversee for the Worldwide-owned cable net.

Carnival boss Gareth Neame said: “Cornwell’s Saxon novels combine historical figures and events with fiction in an utterly compelling way. In part the epic quest of our hero Uhtred, it is also a fascinating retelling of the tale of Alfred the Great and how he united the many separate kingdoms on this island into what would become England.”

NBCUniversal’s sales arm is expected to sell The Last Kingdom internationally.