The Last Kingdom, Season 2: cast, locations, and four other things to know as the BBC drama returns

Ben Travis
BBC/Carnival/Steffan Hill

The bad news for Game of Thrones fans this year is that there’s a longer wait for the season to kick off.

But anyone needed a fix of swords-and-shouting will be pleased to hear that The Last Kingdom is back.

It might not have dragons, but the BBC’s historical drama about the birth of England as we know it is getting bigger and better in Season 2.

Here are six things you need to know.

1) It’s based on two novels in Bernard Cornwell’s novels

The series is an adaptation of the author’s Saxon Stories series, with the first season following the plots of the first two books, The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman.

Season 2 is based on the next two instalments, titled The Lords of the North and Sword Song.

“Due to necessity of pace and storytelling some characters are removed or amalgamated, but we largely stay very central to the narrative,” says Executive Producer, Gareth Neame.

“We use other sources as well as the books, working closely with historical advisors, particularly experts on the history of England that that time, so we can create an accurate world when we talk about the geography and customs”

2) It’s set six months after Season 1 ended

The series finds Alfred and Uhtred in the aftermath of the major battle that closed out Season 1 – there’s no time jump here.

“Alfred has gained confidence after the battle of Ethandun and his victory against the Danes,” Executive producer Nigel Marchant explains. “This allows him to start looking at the country as a whole and how he can influence the other kingdoms, both by joining ties with Mercia and influencing them with the prospect of marriage.

“We saw Uhtred riding off to the north having lost an awful lot; his friends, his lover, and at the beginning we find him quite down and out trying to regroup. He can’t go to the north and reclaim his birthright because he hasn’t got an army behind him but, by luck and fate, he bumps into some old friends and starts working for Alfred again.”

(BBC/Carnival/Steffan Hill)

3) Uhtred isn’t in a good place…

Our Saxon-Dane is at a low ebb when we catch up with him this time around.

“We established him as an energetic hero in the first season, and we find him at the start of the second season at his lowest,” says actor Alexander Dreymon.

“He’s in a brothel, drunk, and has probably had a couple of fights the night before. That may be a bit unexpected, but it makes sense, given all that has happened to him.”

(BBC/Carnival/Des Wille)

4) …but King Alfred is stronger

While Uhtred is on a downer, King Alfred is flying high after the victorious battle.

“At the start of Season Two, we see a very different man from the one we met at the beginning of Season One,” says actor David Dawson.

“For a lot of that season, he struggled to prove himself as a leader because he wasn’t your stereotypical, stocky, warrior king.

“And now, since his victory at the Battle of Ethandun, the vision of England that he set out in Season One is slowly becoming a reality.”

Hinting at Alfred’s story time around, Dawson says: “He is now looking beyond Wessex to try to fulfil his dream in the best way possible. Those around him believe in him more than they ever did because he is accomplishing things that he dreamt of doing.”

5) It’s filmed in Hungary

The Last Kingdom might be set in the formative era of England, but it’s actually filmed just outside Budapest in an eight-acre stretch of land that also played host to fellow historical drama The Borgias.

There are – mild spoiler warning – some scenes involving a slave ship this year, which were filmed indoor at Korda Studios in Budapest and on the studio’s man-made lake.

6) You can catch up on Netflix

If you haven’t seen Season 1, you should binge it and prepare to hop on board the new episodes. Those with a Netflix account can stream all eight episodes.

BBC Two, 9pm

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