Get ready for Britannia, an epic new historical fantasy series chronicling a Roman invasion of Celtic Britain in 43 AD. It’s not Game of Thrones, but while we wait for season 8 to hit in 2019, it could help bridge the gap.
Britannia is the first series co-produced by Sky Atlantic and Amazon Prime Video, and the entire first season of nine one-hour episodes is now available to stream/binge today on Sky. For those who don’t have access to Sky, the whole thing will be available on Amazon Prime on January 26. Here’s the latest trailer:
The official synopsis of Britannia is intriguing: “Set in 43 AD, the captivating, anarchic drama follows the Roman army as they return to crush the Celtic heart of Britannia, a mysterious land led by warrior women and powerful Druids who claim to channel the powerful forces of the underworld.”
Judging only from the trailer, Britannia has a more modern, rock and roll sensibility than Thrones, but the trailer could be misleading. Shot on location in Prague and Wales, the cinematography and locations look as fantastic as we’ve come to expect from cable network shows these days.
Kelly Reilly as Kerra in
We can expect the show to be gritty, bloody and packed with complex characters dealing with power, fear, betrayal and lust. And while the series suggests a great struggle between a “modern” army and the magical powers of the ancient Celtic Druids, it will be interesting to see just how effective those magics might be, once put to the test.
This series arrives with high expectations. Jeff Bezos and Amazon have long been looking for a show to rival Game of Thrones, and Britannia looks like a first step. They’ve apparently spared no expense: the show is produced by Rick McCallum (Star Wars), written by award-winning playwright Jez Butterworth (Black Mass, Spectre) and boasts a great cast, including David Morrissey (The Walking Dead) as Aulus Plautius, Kelly Reilly (Pride and Prejudice, True Detective) as Kerra and Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars) as King Pellenor.
We also get Game of Thrones alumnus Mackenzie Crook (Orell the wildling warg) in a major role as the Celtic Druid Veran. Crook also appeared in Ricky Gervais’ The Office TV series and as a member of the cursed Black Pearl crew in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. On Britannia, Crook’s mysterious character claims to be 10,000 years old and the second human to appear since creation.
David Morrissey as Aulus Plautius in Britannia
For Thrones fans, Britannia offers the potential of a great historical fiction series, one that could entertain us while we wait for season 8 and potentially for many years beyond. It could also end up as a weird, hastily devised, knock-off flop. Odds are it lands somewhere in between, but considering the quality of the creatives involved, I’m betting it proves worthwhile. One can be hopeful, and even expect it to become awesome.
I’ll be reviewing Britannia here on WiC once the full first season airs as an Amazon Prime Original on January 26. If you’re still hunting for historical fiction shows to fill the Thrones void, be sure to check out my review of The Last Kingdom, and this collection of this collection of medieval-themed shows to watch.