The small-screen adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories enjoyed a celebrated run on Netflix, with four seasons, 45 years’ worth of historically accurate content, and a growing cast list to rival Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, and The Crown — combined. The Last Kingdom chronicles the turbulent sociopolitical events surrounding the real-life founding of England, and while history has infinitely more “Saxon stories” to tell, filmmaking has an expiration date. And Netflix just swung the proverbial ax on one of their longest-running series to date. The Last Kingdom, starring American Horror Story: Coven’s Alexander Dreymon as fictional Northumbrian lord Uhtred of Bebbanburg, will officially conclude with the release of its fifth, and final, season, Deadline reports.
It’s a fitting farewell for a Netflix show that, by all accounts boasted, an extended tenure just as long as Britain’s formative years. The cast is currently filming its 10-part last season in Hungary.
Set in the ninth and tenth centuries, The Last Kingdom on Netflix charted Uhtred Ragnarsson’s adventures from Saxon survivor to Danish warrior with family and friends to fight for. Audiences saw Uhtred’s loyalties change drastically, and his personal growth along with it. Last we met the man formerly known as Osbert, he was mentoring King Edward’s eldest son Aethelstan in the ways of war, imparting the various lessons he picked up since his journey began all the way back in Northumbria, when Uhtred was born into nobility as the second son of Ealdorman Uhtred.
The young Osbert was destined for the priesthood, but everything changed when his elder brother — also named Uhtred — died in battle against the Danes. Osbert took up Uhtred’s name but was later captured and adopted by a Danish lord. The character of Uhtred of Bebbanburg was derived from real-life Northumbrian ealdorman Uhtred the Bold, who also happens to be Cornwell’s direct ancestor. Season 5 on Netflix will most likely have Uhtred facing his greatest foe, all the while securing and cultivating, his greatest legacy — his student Aethelstan. An epic sendoff for England’s would-be founder.
The final season of The Last Kingdom features a padded cast, with Patrick Robinson (Death in Paradise), Sonya Cassidy (Lodge 49), and Harry Gilby (Tolkien) rounding out the group. Robinson plays tortured clergyman Father Benedict, Cassidy plays fellow Saxon Eadgifu, while Gilby plays Uhtred’s uber-important protege Aethelstan. Alexander Dreymon will be directing an episode. The Last Kingdom was originally produced by Carnival Films for serialization on BBC Two. Martha Hillier (of Vera fame) serves as showrunner while Gareth Neame and Nigel Marchant executive produce.
The show spent three years on BBC before it was picked up by Netflix in 2018, where it aired its last two seasons. The source material comprised 13 books; the first eight were the only ones so far adapted for the screen. Producer Marchant looks fondly back on the series’s early days, musing, “With such a loyal fanbase, we’re excited to give viewers a chance to follow Uhtred on the next stage of his epic quest, where not everyone survives.” Alexander Dreymon considers the role one of the joys of his storied career, adding, “Playing Uhtred for 5 seasons has been a wonderful journey.”