I watched the first season of The Last Kingdom back in 2015 and loved it, but, as far as I can remember, when we started Season 2 we didn’t like it so much, and were put off by the curious change in accent for main character Uhtred. Recently, though, I decided to give it another go, and quickly became fairly obsessed with it – I was wrong, it’s terrific. So much so that I went back and started at the beginning again, once I’d watched it all (and the feature film, Seven Kings Must Die, that follows on).
For anyone who loves the show as much as I do (though just for me, really, because I love doing these sort of posts, and for Shelley Wilson who is similarly obsessed!) here are my top 20 favourite characters 🙂
In reverse order, because it’s more fun that way…
I’ve put Numbers 19 and 20 together, as they’re characters with an opposite similarity, if that makes sense. One I couldn’t stand at first and ended up feeling great sympathy for, and the other I thought was great fun in the first two seasons but came to despise!
20. Athelwold and 19. Aelswith
played by Harry McEntire and Eliza Butterworth
I loved Athelwold in Seasons 1 and 2 – how he didn’t care what anyone thought, made amusing asides at inappropriate moments, supported Uhtred for the most part, was obviously intelligent and educated but, by his own admission, hid it well. Even when he tried to form an alliance with Sigefrid (with the ridiculous story about a corpse’s prophecies), it was half-hearted and comical. However, he fell off my favourites list with a resounding thud at the start of S3, when he engineered circumstances that led to Uhtred killing a monk and fleeing for his life, and then when he joined forces with Cnut – and we know how that ended.
He was pitiful rather than evil. If only he’d been able to use that brain for good, and let go of his bitterness.
Aelswith I didn’t like at all at first – pursed-lipped, judgemental, etc – but she began her redemption in my eyes when she demonstrated being less than impressed with her son-in-law. Watching the show for the second time round I found myself rather touched by her unflagging devotion to Alfred. She then totally redeemed herself in the last season, in particular, by admitting that she’d made wrong choices and bravely involving herself in the fight against the unscrupulous Aethelhelm – and in the last few episodes she even provided the comic relief.
18: Odda The Elder
Played by Simon Kunz
Killed his own son for being a treacherous little weasel, and supported Uhtred almost throughout. Decent man who stood by his convictions and held up the cause of the common man. Vastly under-appreciated.
Played by Ruby Hartley
What a great choice for Gisela’s daughter – she actually looks like her! So interesting how Stiorra inherited so many of her father’s character traits, but inside was a true Dane, like her mother. In comparison, I often felt as though Uhtred was a Saxon inside, as he was born, but trying very hard to still be a Dane.
Mature and brave, Stiorra knew what she wanted when it was placed in front of her – life among her mother’s people, and a perfect match with the thinking Viking woman’s crumpet – Sigtryggr.
Played by Ewan Mitchell
Can’t go wrong being of both Leofric and Alfred’s bloodlines. Like Uhtred the Younger, did not hide behind religious convictions. I liked how he kept plugging away at being part of the gang, despite his fears and initial ineptitude for the warrior lifestyle. Brave, honest, dependable. A curious third wheel for Sihtric and Finan, who nevertheless fitted in perfectly and totally earned his stripes.
Played by James Northcote
Something of a manipulative weasel at first, when he was Aethelred’s advisor, but soon stepped up by telling Aethelflaed about the plan to kill her. After he’d turned away from Aethelred it was like he threw away his dark side. If I’m ever a Saxon queen and am looking for a right-hand man, the job’s his. Dared to question his own loyalty, rather than following blindly. And helped Aethelflaed to carry on her illicit relationship with Uhtred, even though he was in love with her.
Played by Stefanie Martini
Cool, clever, wise, and she always looked great, too. Finest moment was when she brought about the downfall of her monstrous brother – and I liked that she had the courage to make her own way rather than taking Aethelfaed’s offer of protected life in a nunnery. Couldn’t really see Eadith taking a vow of chastity, or being unable to ride freely across the land with the Uhtred posse, of which she proved to be a most efficient member – especially when Haesten hung the rest of them upside down from trees. I was most disappointed that she and Finan never got it together, incidentally.
13: King Alfred
Played by David Dawson
I felt frustrated with Alfred more or less throughout – no more than he did with the constant battles in his head. His intentions were always honourable, even though he was only human; one has to remember that, on a regular basis, he was called to make decisions for which there was no good answer, and of course the burden of kingship was too heavy for any man to carry with ease. For all his outward rigidity, he was far more open-minded than most of his status in life and knew a good man when he met one – I particularly liked how he trusted Ragnar. This intelligence and insight was what, alas, caused many of his problems – should he follow his heart, his head, the word of his priests, tradition or instinct?
Alfred was as hard as nails when he had to be and where the good of the realm was concerned, but so perceptive when it came to understanding individuals. Then, of course, there was that last, touching conversation with Uhtred. The one we hoped so much would happen. Watched it again the other night and it brought tears to my eyes. David Dawson is a stunningly excellent actor.
12: Father Pyrlig
Played by Cavan Clerkin
The ultimate warrior priest! Funny, brave, selfless and all round pretty awesome. The scene where he flawed Sigefrid’s man Boltan, by pretending to scarcely know how to wield a sword, was one of the best. He had some terrific lines which he carried off with great aplomb.
Pointy end forward, Father Pyrlig!
Played by Tobias Santelmann
So much to love about Uhtred’s Danish brother. How he understood the importance of Uhtred’s oath to Alfred in the first season, and, of course, how he saved him from the slave traders. I liked that Alfred understood that he was an honourable man. Truly a Ragnar Lothbrok type of Viking, rather than a Haesten or Bloodhair! Even though he cheated on Brida because he wanted sons, one got the impression that he did so in the most honest and decent way possible.
⚔ The Top Ten ⚔
Played by Peri Baumeister
Beautiful, clever, outspoken, able to see through the boasts and posturing of others, knew how to see the difference between the good and the not so good, and looked totally amazing in the dress she wore when she married Uhtred!
9: Father Beocca
Played by Ian Hart
Who could not love Father Beocca? Uhtred’s stand-in father, who took great risks to save his life even in the first episode. I thought the reason he went to Bebbanburg was to do some good and hang the consequences, so he could be with Thyra again. One of his finest moments was when he headbutted the molusc who’d been intimidating her – then, when Uhtred and co held him back, he evaded their clutches and went back to get another punch in.
Played by Alexander Dreymon
‘Even his scars are handsome’ – Father Beocca.
I was an Uhtred fan most of the time, but sometimes found him a little too arrogant and lacking in understanding of others’ priorities/needs/wishes. I loved how greatly he valued those close to him, who had always stuck by him throughout, and was essentially a man of his word. Of course he was drop dead gorgeous, too, and would have been doubly so if the makers of the show hadn’t decided he needed that curious accent – the actual Danes sounded more English than he did. I just didn’t get it, from S2 (when it started) onwards.
Having said that, Alexander Dreymon portrayed so well how Uhtred grew from an impulsive youth into an only slightly less impulsive man. Well done, Mr D.
As for his love life, I never thought him and Aethelflaed came across – for me, the match lacked something – chemistry, whatever. She felt far more real and passionate with Erik – he with Gisela and Iseult.
Destiny is all, y’all 😉. To Bebbanburg!
Played by Adrian Bower
Lovely Leofric, man’s man, great buddy, always by your side in battle, would take a bullet for you (metaphorically), and wise and funny into the bargain. Kind of the prequel to Finan, I thought. If only Arseling had listened to him about going to Alfred straight away to tell him that he’d killed Ubba …
Played by Eva Birthistle
Played by Christian Hillborg
played by Charlie Murphy
An angel. Aside from being breathtakingly beautiful, she was an old soul, calm and all-seeing, never drawing attention to herself, but noticing what was important to others, and quietly, gently helping them do what was best for them. Her face showed that she’d seen her own death, but she suffered the knowledge alone, rather than tell Uhtred before he went into battle. Also, 10/10 for asking King Alfred if he had blood coming out of his arse, in such an endearing fashion. Gutted when she died.
Played by Mark Rowley
I thought I was totally over the ‘amusing Irishman’ character in series and films such as these, and those set nearer the present day, but Finan brought life to the stereotype all over again. Never a dull moment and brought so much to every scene, every skirmish, every dare-devil plan. Total trooper.
Played by Arnas Federavičius
Sihtric: just a total darling, loved him from that scene when he showed how serious he was about offering Uhtred his sword. He was the one Gisela trusted with a note to let Uhtred know where she was when she escaped to a nunnery, and then there was the pretence about leaving Uhtred to join the Danes in S3 – he was always the man for mission such as these, totally focused and able to fade into the shadows when necessary. Also, those arms…
Played by Eysteinn Sigurðarson
Yes, I’m still traumatised by his death. Out of all of those that occurred in the whole five seasons, I found his the most heartrending. His and Stiorra’s love and devotion to each other was, I thought, the most believable, touching and emotive romantic relationship of all. Could hardly bear to watch the tragic chain of events that ended up in his demise, from the trusting of his slimeball of a brother, to the deception that meant he was blamed for the killing of the pilgrims and the queen. Of course he killed a whole bunch of Saxons, Edward. Wouldn’t you have done?
He’d made the perfect community in Jorvik, with Danes and Christians living side by side; he even permitted Christian preachers.
He saw how the future could be, as Alfred did.
|Killed by Uhtred on King Edward’s instructions, but at Sigtryggr’s request.
A special mention for the Welsh, except for Rhodri but especially King Hywell, who was both decent and hilarious. I also found that Haesten grew on me, through the seasons. Odd!