I arrived at the building where Sean works for our 3 o’clock meeting, and he came down to meet me. On the way up to his office, he asked why I was so into “Arthur of the Britons”: was it Oliver? I said, no it was Michael. “Even then?” he said. Perhaps he thought a teenager would be more likely to fall for Oliver, though he did think that Michael was a very attractive man.

By way of background, Sean said that in the early 1970s, the smaller TV companies like HTV weren’t expected to do drama, especially on this scale, but Sean’s father, Patrick Dromgoole, decided that they should start. They had two crews, which produced a lot of great drama over the next 20 years, including "Children of the Stones" and “Robin of Sherwood.” “Arthur of the Britons” - along with “Pretenders”1 - was the start of this in many ways.

The story of Arthur, and the conflict between the Celts of Wales and Cornwall, and the Saxons in Wessex, was a natural choice for Harlech TV, which was based in the middle of those territories.

As we settled down to watch “The Gift of Life” together, Sean proved himself a man after my own heart by expressing approval for the 4:3 aspect ratio! He also said he loved Elmer Bernstein’s epic theme music.

Every now and then, as we watched the episode, he would press ‘pause’, and tell me something he remembered about what had just transpired.

The first thing he commented on was the horse Michael was riding. He said that either Michael wasn’t a natural rider, or the horses he’d been given weren’t up to the task, because he had been through about 3 horses without finding one that suited him. The horse wrangler, Ben Ford of Stroud, brought in the big dark horse with the wide irregular blaze, and named it Merlin because “if this works it will be a miracle.”

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As it turned out, this horse did suit Michael, and was very … stable.

As Krist and Elka stick their heads up on the boat, Sean drew his colleague’s attention to his first appearance: “I’m in show business!”

Longboat (24)

He then pointed out that much of the conversation between Arthur and Kai about what to do with the Saxon children – nearly a whole minute – was filmed in one take.

Then when Kai is getting ready to leave the village with the children, he drew my attention to a great shot of Michael.

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He said there would have been huge polystyrene reflectors just out of shot, directing bright lights at Michael’s face; he would have been bravely keeping his eyes wide open to avoid squinting.

The riding scenes were filmed near Woodchester. Sean could ride already, as his mother had been very keen that he and his siblings should learn. It was alright for Tamzin riding in front of Michael, but very uncomfortable for him, riding at the back, where there was no saddle. Bumping along when they were cantering was agony!

The Journey (8)

The conversation between Krist and Kai about the scar on Kai’s neck would have been filmed by a tracking camera mounted on a vehicle, driven alongside the horse.

I mentioned how tall the bracken was, in the scene where Krist and Elka go missing. Sean said the problem was, trying to make sure the crew didn’t trample it all down!

The Journey (36)

When Kai was calling for the children, Sean said, “I did find Michael slightly scary – there was a threat about him. He was tall, distant, and rather magnificent.” He was also “moody” but Sean also recalled that he was “very kind, very patient.” He and Tamzin often screwed up a shot by, for example, looking straight into camera, but Michael understood that they were just learning. “In dealing with me and Tamzin, he was brilliant.”

When Kai teaches the children the secret whistle, Sean admitted that he couldn’t do it; that was the only part of the sound that wasn’t recorded live on location, but looped in a sound studio. The sound recordist, Mike Davey, a close friend of Sean’s, is deaf in one ear!

During the next scene where they were riding, Sean pointed out the vehicle tracks where the horse was trotting. I protested that they were cart tracks, but he said carts didn’t make tracks like that!

Where the children are sleeping, he said he remembered the feel of the sheepskin against his cheek.

I commented on Kai’s furry boot-covers, and Sean revealed that they were a lot of trouble, as they were always coming off.

As they walk into the Saxon village, Sean said that Heather Wright, who played Hildred, was a lovely girl. He commented once again on the wonderful cadence of the theme music.

Welcome (18) Celebration (11)

He wondered what was the point of “putting fur on a guitar” (the minstrel’s lute).

In the scene where Kai is sitting in the hut, tied up, Sean pointed out that the wattle and daub panels, from which the walls were made, were actually moulded plastic! They had one real panel, and poured plastic onto it, then peeled it off, painted it, and poured some more on. They looked terrible in real life.

In the hut (9)

He thought Stephan Chase was a good actor; “You need to know who your villain is.”

Celebration (29) In the hut (46)

When Kai springs out of the bracken to break the Saxon villager’s neck, Sean said he would have had his face smeared with Vaseline, to make it look as if he were sweating. By the time they filmed these scenes, they were losing the light.

Escaping (53)

Sean remembers being fascinated watching Peter Brayham organising the stunts, and by just how simple they were, up close. When Horgren surprises Kai, near his horse, it was Peter who buried the axe in the tree trunk, not Stephan Chase.

Escaping (79)

He remembers feeling the sticky “Kensington Gore” (theatrical fake blood) on his face after Kai palms his cheek as he rides away.

During the scene where Kai is lying on his sickbed, we speculated on where Arthur would have obtained the huge bunch of grapes Kai has in front of him. Sean suspects the cameraman was referencing Carravagio’s “Boy with a Basket of Fruit.”

Boy_with_a_Basket_of_Fruit-Caravaggio_(1593) Welcome home (5)

The fire would have been made using a gas tube under some stone that had been painted to look like logs.

After the credits had rolled, Sean asked whether I had any other questions. I started by asking how he got the job!

He had acted before, in school plays and the like, but never in front of a camera. As soon as word got out about a new production, people in the business would be looking out for roles for their children. There was an audition: five boys and five girls, and a lot of those auditioning, like the Nevilles, were family friends.

The episode Director, Pat Jackson – a lovely man - must have auditioned them, but as the audition was held in Patrick Dromgoole’s office, Sean, and his younger brother Dominic and sister Jessica, were at something of an advantage. Sean himself was credited as “Sean Fleming” – his mother’s maiden name – because they didn’t want to give away the fact that he was in his dad’s production!

Sean got the part of Krist, partly because he was blond, which made him a better fit as a Saxon boy than his brother, Dominic whose hair was dark. Dominic got the part of Col’s son Frith, in “The Slaves.” He didn’t like the fact that at the end of the episode, he had to be lifted – almost thrown – high in the air by Dave Prowse. Jessica appeared in another episode as an extra.

They took the men Dominic

Sean took it very seriously; he remembers rehearsing at the kitchen table with his mother. “I was the little pro – turned up with all my lines learnt!”

Being one of the youngest cast members was, “terrific! Everyone spoiled me.” People fell over themselves to look after them, especially the make-up lady, Christine Penwarden, on whom he had a crush. She used to show them how to make fake scars with Bostick, and shock their families.

When they went for the costume fittings, they were fascinated by the axes with rubber heads, used during the actual fight scenes. Saying, “This is a real one”, Oliver picked up an axe, took a swing at one of the posts in the Saxon village, struck into it, and also hit one of the female crew members - possibly the costume lady, Audrey MacLeod - on the head! She was okay though.

There were very small crews in those days – 30 or so – so everyone was racing about the whole time, but because of people like the cameraman, Bob Edwards and the director, Pat Jackson, the atmosphere was relaxed and very friendly; there seemed to be plenty of time. “It was great fun – a real confidence-booster. They made it so easy.”

Nevertheless, not being a ‘morning person’, Sean was “beguiled” by how early in the morning they started work (dawn). They only shot 3 and a half to four minutes’ worth of film each day, unlike these days, when 8 minutes is the norm. It took about a week to film each episode.

When asked how much direction he was given, Sean said, “Not enough, watching it! I think the idea was to keep us as relaxed as possible – not do take after take, which would have been intimidating for a child.” He thought he could have given a better performance. It was hard to know how much direction any of the adult cast received, because a good director would speak to the actors privately.

He didn’t see the rushes. There would be a lab. report the next morning, and the rushes would be seen the following night. Some directors invited the actors; the more experienced ones didn’t, because they didn’t want them to be distracted by thinking about what they’d done before.

Sean thinks he was paid for the performance, but has no idea what happened to the money; it didn’t end up in his pocket! He was present for the filming of some other episodes but didn’t appear as an extra, which was boring: not like being the centre of attention!

It rained, half the time, and the cast and crew would either stand under tarpaulins, film indoors, or just got on with it, pretending it wasn’t there.

Tony Shaffer – the writer of “Sleuth” - suggested that John Hurt should play Arthur; the series would have been “different”. But Patrick cast Oliver Tobias, who they already knew really well. Oliver used to bring his Haflinger 4 x 4 to their parents’ place, and drive them up an almost vertical hillside, making them all scream!

Oliver was hugely popular, “an utter delight.” He maintained friendships with all levels of the crew, to the extent that, years later, when he played the villain, Bertrand de Nivelle, in the “Robin of Sherwood” episode, “Lord of the Trees”, and had to fight Michael Praed, who played Robin, the crew were all cheering for Oliver: “Come on – give him what for!”

Bertrand de Nivelle

When the episode was broadcast, on 13 December 1972, Sean’s whole cub scout troop – all in their uniforms – came to their house in Somerset to watch it. “I was a fucking star!”

Though he hasn’t been back to the locations where they filmed, Sean sometimes feels drawn to visit them. His involvement with “Arthur of the Britons” was a very intense experience, and his attachment to it is deep set. He asked me what I thought of the series when I saw it again on DVD after nearly 40 years; I said it was better than I remembered, and he agreed. The series has stood up well.

He wanted to take up acting as a career, until his first professional auditions, which were so ugly and intimidating, he wondered why anyone would ever put themselves through the process. He probably should have gone to drama school, but his parents didn’t believe in it. He flirted with the idea of becoming and engineer, but decided it would be too dull, so he studied Philosophy at University, where he also did 22 plays, and had his own punk band, The Ripchords.2

When he finished his studies, he spent a number of years behind the camera, working for his father as an Assistant Director.

1 A costume drama set in 1685, about two children during a rebellion against King James II.

2 Their sole release, an eponymous EP with four tracks, “Ringing in the Streets”, “Music is...”, “Peace artist”, and “Television television”, was championed by John Peel, and quickly sold out. "Punk 77" described their music as “Tuneful punk with sepulchral vocals and deep growling bass”, and "My Life's a Jigsaw" as “Great garage/DIY punk.” Sean Dromgoole was the vocalist.
Extra, Barbara Hatherall and cameraman, Roger Pearce remembered filming at Woodborough Mill Farm near the village of Woollard. This was where Ulrich's village in "The Gift of Life", Rolf's village in "The Penitent Invader", Cerdig's village in "In Common Cause", Yorath's village in "Rowena", Col's village in "The Slaves", and Arthur's village in the later episodes, were set.

In "The Gift of Life", this is the wood from which Kai and the children emerge, and into which Kai flees from his Saxon pursuers.

Match 1 (2)

Here is the location as it appeared in 2014; the young sapling left of centre in the scene above seems to have grown.

Match 1
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On 28 and 29 August 2010, at a meeting arranged by Wendy Van Der Veen at the Imperial Hotel in Stroud, Oliver Tobias graciously gave his time to meet a group of fans of “Arthur of the Britons”, and share some of his experiences. His brother, Benedict Freitag, also attended.

After Wendy had introduced him, Oliver referred to “Arthur of the Britons” as ‘a memory which I had closed away …’ He said that someone – either an early director, or his agent – used to tell him ‘never look back’: advice which he took to heart. As a result, he has little in the way of momentoes, had never watched the whole series, and didn’t even see the ‘rushes’ when they were filming.

He recently started watching the series with his 7 year-old son Luke – who looks at him a bit differently now! They haven’t watched all of it yet, but Oliver’s overall impression is that the series stands up as a piece of drama; the episodes are sound pieces of work that have stood the test of time.

‘We gave good honest performances and that’s why they are still appreciated by loyal fans who remember the series from childhood. But I don’t suppose they would appeal to people seeing them for the first time now.’

One fan, who saw the series for the first time only a few months before, was able to set him right on that score, telling him ‘it engaged me instantly.’

When asked what he considered to be his best work, over his whole career – the work of which he was most proud – he said, ‘“Arthur of the Britons” – it was all downhill from then on!’ He was only half-joking. He takes pride in a job well done, but it’s not about him: ‘I do things to entertain people.’

Benedict remembered waking up on the morning after “Arthur of the Britons” was first shown in Germany, looking out of his window to see lots of little boys playing Arthur-and-Kai games on the football pitch across the way, with wooden swords and shields, and thinking proudly: ‘My brother did that!’
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A.S., the daughter of one of Michael Gothard’s close friends, visited the set of "Arthur of the Britons" during November 1972. Soon after this first visit, she received a letter from Michael, which included the following:

“I am so pleased you enjoyed your visit to Scruffy Camelot! … I write this at the end of another very long day. I am somewhat saddle sore and bruised, but this is great fun to work on and restores my faith somewhat in this very shallow business I find myself in. I do enjoy working with “The Boys”! It is all very hectic and we are losing track of what we are doing and where we are, what with swapping between episodes.

This week I have been involved in several fights, which of course I won, I have been tied to a tree...and very cold it was too, then we went back and did some knife throwing that if I remember rightly we did right at the beginning ... .which seems a LONG time ago. Oh, I have also thrown a glass of fake wine over Oliver (again) which I enjoyed. We have also done a lot of riding, hence me needing a squashy cushion whenever I sit down. … It will be an early start on Friday morning, and you will get to spend a little time with the horses, as we are scheduled to be involved in plenty of riding during that day.”

The fights he mentions being involved in may have been the ones in the woods at the end of “The Prize”, which was the episode in which he was tied to a tree. They may also have included some of the sparring from “The Pupil”, and the final fight with Corin.

The Prize 65 The Prize 134

The knife-throwing and wine-throwing scenes which were re-shot, were from the beginning and end of “Daughter of the King.” However, while the new version of the knife-throwing scene was used, the wine-throwing scene broadcast was clearly the original one, filmed during the same period as the bulk of the episode, as it was filmed in the original longhouse at Woodchester.

Longhouse scene (58) Friends (24)

There were not many whole episodes left to be filmed by this time: “The Girl from Rome”, “The Swordsman”, and “The Treaty.” None of these involved substantial amounts of riding for Kai. However, the racing scenes in “Arthur is Dead”, which were also used in the credits, were definitely filmed in autumn – there are autumnal trees, hips on the bushes, dead thistles, and lots of fallen leaves on the ground – so these are probably the scenes to which he was referring, when he says they are scheduled to be doing a lot of riding when A.S. visits next time.

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It is good to see that Michael found filming “Arthur of the Britons” such a positive experience.

1 More recollections from A.S. can be found here.
Plot

On a winter’s day, Llud and Kai look out over the stockade, at a group of men, women and children, standing on the rise, looking towards the village. Kai expresses suspicion of the strangers - the Wood People - but Llud is more tolerant. Arthur arrives back from a diplomatic visit, and, despite Kai’s objections, sends him to invite the Wood People into the village.

Later, when some of the Wood People’s children are playing with those from the village, a Celt woman tells them off. She complains to Arthur, but he just sends all the children off on a race together.

Meanwhile, Kai is heating a sword on a brazier, to cauterise a wound to the arm of one of the men, Badric. As Llud examines Badric’s injury, one of the Wood People – a young man, Yan – offers some herbs which would allow Badric to sleep through the treatment. Badric angrily rejects the offer, and is heard screaming as his wound is treated.

At night, the Wood People’s Elder approaches the guard outside the longhouse, and covertly drops some powder into his brazier. Soon, he falls to the ground, unconscious. The Elder slips into the longhouse, and approaches the sleeping Arthur. She draws a knife and holds it over him, as if to strike, then slowly lowers the knife. Llud wakes, shouts a warning, and disarms the Elder, who then asks Arthur for help.

The Wood People claim that a band of Saxons took two of their children hostage, and demanded Arthur, dead or alive, in exchange. Kai doesn’t believe them, but when Arthur asks one of the children about the Saxon’s leader, her testimony convinces him.

Kai and Llud, in disguise among the Wood People, go to meet the Saxons, with Arthur pretending to be their prisoner. They intend to try to take the children without surrendering Arthur, but when they lose the element of surprise, Arthur gives himself up, in exchange for the children.

As the Saxons take Arthur away, intending to sell him to Cerdig, the Celts, and some of the Wood People, follow, and watch from the cover of the woods. Night falls, and the Saxons set up a makeshift camp inside a ring of torches. Arthur sits on the ground near the Saxon Leader, who threatens and humiliates him.

The Saxons start to fall asleep; Kai contemplates an attack, but Llud thinks that would get Arthur killed. Then Kai asks the Wood People for some of the Herbs of Sleep to use on the Saxons. The Wood People set off to gather ingredients, and as it starts to get light, they return with the mixture.

Yan takes the bag of herbs from the Elder, and creeps across the space between the woods and the Saxons’ torches. The Saxon Leader sends one of his men, Grend, to fetch firewood. Grend trips over Yan, who makes a run for the campfire. Felled by a blow from the Saxon Leader, Yan drops a handful of the Herbs of Sleep into the campfire, before he dies.

The Saxons start to keel over, and the Celts attack. Seeing that his side is losing, the Saxon Leader puts his sword to Arthur’s throat before the Celts can rescue him.

As dawn breaks, the Saxon Leader runs through the trees, pushing Arthur ahead of him. Arthur stumbles and falls. The Celts surround them. The Saxon Leader raises his sword to strike a death blow, then decides to bargain for his life, instead.

Arthur tricks the Saxon Leader into setting him free, then fights and kills him.

Back at the Longhouse, while the Wood People prepare to leave Arthur’s village, the Elder gives Arthur a pouch containing more Herbs of Sleep. Kai brings a gift for the Wood People. Arthur and Llud make fun of him.


Timeline

"The Wood People" appears after "The Pupil" and also after "The Treaty" on the "Konig Arthur" DVDs. However, external evidence1 points to "The Treaty" having been the last episode filmed.

Also, in 1972, the daughter of one of Michael's friends visited Woollard, and saw the crew working on two episodes. She says, “they were not filming it in proper order. We spent two days there, and they were finishing ‘The Pupil’ with Peter Firth, then leaping on to ‘The Wood People’, then going back to ‘The Pupil.’”

Viewing "The Wood People" immediately after, or before, "The Pupil" therefore makes sense; they were probably filmed concurrently over a two week period. Seasonal cues also suggest this. The trees are relatively bare, and the days were so short that some scenes in "The Wood People" were filmed after night had fallen.

Suggested shooting order so far

Arthur is Dead
Daughter of the King
The Challenge
The Gift of Life
Enemies and Lovers
In Common Cause
The Penitent Invader
The Slaves
People of the Plough
Go Warily
The Prisoner
The Duel
Rowena
Some Saxon Women
The Marriage Feast
The Prize
Six Measures of Silver/Rolf the Preacher
The Games
The Pupil/The Wood People


Locations

The Wood People are first seen standing on the rise to the west of the village at Woollard.

Intro (3) Intro (14)

Not much of the action takes place in the actual village, and most of it is on the north-east side, but the scene in which the sentry is drugged takes place on the south west side of the longhouse.

Intro (20) Help us (5)

The final fight scene takes place in the same copse as some of Corin’s lessons in “The Pupil.”

Showdown (122) Same copse


Filming

Help us (7) Parting gifts (25)

The scene in which the Wood People’s Elder drugs the sentry, and the final scene, when the Celts say goodbye to the Wood People, are the first in the series which were filmed at night, rather than just at dusk, (like the scene in “The Pupil” where Arthur has a serious talk with Corin) or using “day for night” techniques, as in the later scene at the Saxon camp.

Dusk Saxon camp (124)

With night falling earlier, as winter approached, it may no longer have been necessary to pay overtime rates in order to film in the dark.


Inside Information

More memories from A.S., the daughter of one of Michael's friends, can be found here.


Cast notes

Most viewers are used to seeing Bernard Bresslaw as a harmless, bumbling giant, in comedy roles, often in “Carry On” films, and the like, but he was capable of much more, and seemed to relish the role of the brutal Saxon Leader.

Laura Cairns reprises the role she played in “The Gift of Life”, as a Celt Woman with a particular hatred of outsiders, even when they are only children.

Laura Cairns Laura Cairns 2


Author note

According to his website, David Osborn, a New Yorker by birth, left the USA when black-listed, along with one of the actors in a radio play he had written, during the McCarthy witch hunts. He went to France, where he owned and operated a small rock quarry on the Cote D’Azur.

Around 1958, when his script for “Chase a Crooked Shadow” became successful, he came to work in England, and spent many years writing for film and TV, including three of the episodes of “Arthur of the Britons” with the most overtly political messages: “Some Saxon Women”, “The Wood People”, and “The Games.”

When contacted in 2013, David Osborn’s immediate recollection was that he “created the series, wrote a pilot script and received an award for it as best children's series”2, though he admitted that his memory, at the age of 90, was a little hazy. “If I remember correctly, I was approached by a TV company … and asked to come up with a series. I took a different approach than the usual Knights of the Round Table etc. and cast Arthur as a tribal chief of the Britons who was waging guerrilla warfare as his people were being slowly driven out by the Saxons.” He also said, “I've written nine novels since, am deep into my tenth, and have finally hit ninety, so I might be excused at being less definite.”

Patrick Dromgoole is generally thought of as the originator of the series, and the episodes written by David Osborn were all filmed during the later half of the shooting, so whether Osborn was actually as deeply involved in the creation of the series as he remembers, we will probably never know. But according to James Chapman, in Swashbucklers: The Costume Adventure Series”, “HTV was too small an outfit to mount such an ambitious undertaking itself and had to seek co-production partners. Arthur of the Britons was produced in association with Heritage Enterprises of New York … which released an abridged feature film from the series, King Arthur the Young Warlord, in America in 1975 …” Perhaps New Yorker David Osborn was part of this US connection.

He had earlier written the original screen story for “Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?”, in which Michael Gothard appeared, so if he really was involved in the genesis of “Arthur of the Britons”, it may not be too much of a stretch to see his influence in Michael’s casting as “Kai”. Osborn’s personal experience with a rock quarry may have provided the inspiration or background for “The Slaves.”


Cursèd witches

This episode sends a clear message, and one still relevant nearly five decades on: that we should not shun outsiders, just because they seem different or strange, and that we should help those in need. David Osborn chose Kai as the main voice of superstition, fear, and intolerance, who has to learn this lesson on the viewer’s behalf.

When we first see the Wood People huddled outside Arthur’s stockaded village, Kai is oddly fearful of them, comparing them to “a hungry bear, waiting for a wolf cub to leave its lair”, and saying they are “cursèd” and “bring nothing but trouble”. Perhaps, as an outsider himself, he feels the need to “pull the ladder up” behind him.

The more tolerant Llud, comparing them to “carved statues”, observes that it’s easy to unfairly lay the blame on them for any misfortune.

When Arthur, finding Kai’s prejudice amusing, tells him to invite them into the village, Kai trots out more xenophobic objections: that the Wood People are “witches”, “unclean” and “bring diseases.” His genuine fear and disgust when one of the women rushes forward to thank him, are almost comical.

But Kai isn’t the only one who doesn’t like them. The same shrill Celtic woman who advocated drowning the Saxon children, Krist and Elka, in “The Gift of Life”, complains to Arthur about the Wood People’s “dirty brats” playing with her own children. Kai must have spread the word that they’d been told to stay in their hut.

When Arthur tells Kai that the whistle he gave one of the Wood People’s children “will offset the dreadful curses those witches would cast on us”, Kai realises that he is being mocked again. He gives Arthur a dry look, and but still insists, “I’ll still sleep easier when they’re on their way.”

Despite their mixed reception in the village, the Wood People try to be helpful. One of them offers Badric some “Herbs of Sleep” when his wound has to be cauterised. But Badric rudely rejects any offer, “from a scavenger”.

That night, when the Wood People’s Elder uses those same herbs to drug the guard outside Arthur’s hut, then makes an abortive attempt on his life, Kai feels justified in his original suspicions, and acts as unofficial prosecutor.

Seeing Arthur give himself up in exchange for the child hostages, Llud begins to agree with Kai, that the Wood People have a curse on them.

When the Wood People join the Celts to help get Arthur back, the Elder shows they are well aware of how different they are from the Celts or Saxons, who are “not enough at one with the rocks and trees.”

She says that if one of “the despised People of the Woods” are spotted by the Saxons, “when they finish killin’ him, they will just laugh and spit on his corpse, and leave your leader alone.” And the Saxon Leader does exactly as predicted – then berates Arthur’s people for their cowardice in sending “witches” to rescue him.


"By the Gods!"

Llud succinctly describes how superstition works: “When things go well … we thank our gods, but when trouble comes, we look elsewhere for the cause.” But nearly everyone seems keen to enlist the deities to their own side. One of the Wood People tells Kai, “God protect you for your kindness”, and before attacking the camp, Llud says, “May my gods help me. May Arthur’s god help him” - as if the two sets of deities happily co-existed. Kai prefers getting practical help.

Even the evil Saxon Leader thinks the heavens are on his side, telling Arthur “by the gods I’ll slit your gullet” and “by the gods, you will be the first to go.”

Arthur doesn’t trumpet his beliefs, but sets an example of Christian charity, firstly by offering food and shelter to the Wood People, then by sacrificing himself to save two innocents.


Dark Age Men

Badric rashly refuses to consider pain-relief when Kai is about to burn the infected flesh on his arm: “I am not a sick child that I need comfort! I’m a warrior! I don’t run from pain, like … like some woman!” Arthur shows more sense: “were it I with that wound, I would have perhaps forsaken honour and accepted sleep, gratefully.”


The best laid plans …

Yet again, Arthur and his people don’t seem to have thought things through very carefully. They should have taken more of the real Wood People with them to the prisoner exchange, in case the Saxons were expecting to see the same individuals they originally ambushed, as well as to reassure the child hostages.

A cynical person might also question the wisdom of handing one’s charismatic leader to the enemy, in exchange for two children of no strategic value, without a better rescue plan than: “Keep well hidden. And take your chance.”

But it’s interesting to see both the Celts and Wood People using camouflage, be it smearing their faces with mud, or hiding under a green cloak.


Arthur’s wisdom

Arthur is still struggling to unify the Celts. He is realistic about his progress, saying of Dirk: “He made his mark. He would disown it if it suited him … He demonstrates his wish for peace, even if it is only because he doesn’t feel strong enough for war.”

Arthur then handles a tricky situation with determination, putting forward rational arguments in favour of bringing the Wood People in, rather than just overruling Kai, as he might have done.

He even chooses to finesse the angry Celt woman, disingenuously claiming that Kai was only thinking of the Wood People’s comfort when he told them to stay in their hut, while making it clear that he wants all the children to play together. He softens her attitude by showing that the strangers’ children are no different from her own.


What have the Romans ever done for us?

The Romans may have been driven out of Britain, but apparently there are still some former gladiators roaming the countryside, hiring out their services. The Wood People’s child describes the Saxon Leader with awe: “he’s made marks on his sword hilt for all the men he’s killed. Lots and lots! He fought as a soldier in the Roman Legion … And he was a gladiator.”

And this ex-gladiator likes to brag about his kills: “This was a Nubian, twice your size. And this was a Greek, with a trident and net. And this was a Jute.”

Predictably, Arthur has nothing but contempt for the Romans’ idea of entertainment: “Just brutal, senseless killing.”


“My word is my bond”

In “Daughter of the King”, writers David Pursall and Jack Seddon introduced the idea that it was important to be able to trust a leader’s given word. On this occasion, Arthur played a trick on Eithna, to find out whether Bavick’s promises could be relied upon.

Michael J. Bird then made Arthur’s word a crucial factor in his episode, “In Common Cause”. Arthur promised to give Cerdig some of the Celts’ animals to replace those the Saxons had lost to a plague, and left Kai as hostage to that promise. When Kai escaped, and urged Arthur to keep the animals, Arthur left it to Kai to decide whether this was the right thing to do, and after much soul-searching, Kai agreed that the promise should be kept.

In “Rowena”, written by Robert Banks Stewart, Arthur insisted - against his own wishes - on keeping his word to Yorath, by delivering Rowena to Hecla to be wed, against her will. He pointed out that, as she originally agreed to the match, she too had an obligation to keep her word.

In David Osborne’s “Some Saxon Women”, Yorath accused Arthur of rescuing the women from his camp, and refused to believe Arthur’s angry denial. On the basis of this loss of credibility, the Celts’ peace treaty with the Jutes nearly foundered.

But in Robert Banks Stewart’s “The Prize”, Arthur lied to Mark, over and over, to get him to come along on the expedition to save Llud and Kai. When the lives of his father and brother were at stake, Arthur was ready to take full advantage of his reputation, and cash in all the credit he had built up over the years, to save them. His strategy worked; when Arthur finally admitted that their mission was to save Kai and Llud, Mark could scarcely believe it. The idea that Arthur was basically honest, truthful and reliable, was so set in stone that even Mark - despite his initial suspicions - was completely taken aback.

And in this later David Osborne episode, Arthur again takes a much more flexible approach to the truth. When the Saxon Leader has him at sword point, Arthur promises that if he is set free, none of the Celts will stand in the Saxon Leader’s way, or try to harm him. But when released, Arthur says, “I gave you my word that none of my men would stand in your way. I said nothing of myself. If you want your freedom, Saxon, you must fight for it.”

Here, Arthur is clearly weaselling out of a deal. His men are standing in the Saxon Leader’s way - they have him surrounded. He has to fight Arthur. And if he had won the fight - killed Arthur - Kai and Llud would certainly have killed him, if they could.

Keeping his word, and being known for doing so, gives Arthur a strategic advantage, but in this case, the practical benefits of betrayal far outweigh the disadvantages. A menace to society will be removed, a dead Saxon Leader will tell no tales, and Arthur's reputation for reliability will remain intact.

Even so, Arthur seems to be feeling guilty, because after he kills the Saxon Leader, he feels the need to justify his action, with a speech: “Two and twenty notches. And I warrant not one of them for a cause. Not one of them in defence of right or justice. Just brutal, senseless killing.”


The hot-headed side-kick

For all that Kai seems rather prejudiced in his attitudes, he only does what a good Executive Officer should: pointing out the possible dangers of Arthur’s charitable intentions, and challenging what the Wood People say in their defence, until he is satisfied that they are telling the truth. Later, he is not too proud to ask them for help when Arthur is in danger, and despite the fact that their problem almost gets Arthur killed, he eventually decides that they aren’t such bad sorts after all.


Celts and Saxons

We haven’t seen or heard from Cerdig for some time, but in the last three confrontations between the Celts and Saxons – in “The Slaves”, “The Duel”, and “Rolf the Preacher” – the Celts came out on top. If, as Kai and the Saxon Leader believe, Cerdig will “pay a fortune” for Arthur, it seems that Cerdig sees him as a real threat.

Kai speculates that Cerdig would kill Arthur, “slowly, in a public ceremony”. We haven’t actually seen any evidence that Cerdig is particularly blood-thirsty, but his slaves at the quarry were treated brutally.

The Saxon Leader has hopes that “if Cerdig’s feeling in a good mood”, he’ll be allowed to kill Arthur. Hardly a shining example of civilised behaviour himself, he implies that the Celts are uncouth: “You’re a pig, aren’t you? Pick it all up with your teeth, Pig!”


Great Moments

Kai, offering to run the Wood People out of the area, and Arthur telling him to invite them in.

Arthur, annoying the angry Celt Woman by encouraging her children and the Wood People’s to play together.

Arthur giving himself up in exchange for the children.

The exchange (57) The exchange (66)

The exchange (67) The exchange (69)

Arthur’s fight with the Saxon Leader.

Kai, when he brings his gifts to the Wood People, looking at Arthur and Llud as if to say “Go on then! Take your best shot!” and their gentle mockery.

Parting gifts (21) Parting gifts (19)


Quote/unquote

Arthur: He demonstrates his wish for peace, even if it is only because he doesn’t feel strong enough for war.

Llud: He’ll sleep alright. Either before … or afterwards.


“That is bloody dangerous!”

A.S., the daughter of one of Michael's friends, recalled: “Health and Safety? Michael has a scene where he is supposed to cauterise a wound, in ‘The Wood People’: real sword in real fire, only substituted at the last minute! Child actors running round close to the fire! I don't remember any rehearsal for that either.”

Badric's wound (9) Badric's wound (6)

Yan (Christopher Douglas) falls into a fire.

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“Night-night, Kiddies!”

Dark Age medical treatments are no fun.

Badric's wound (38) Badric's wound (50)

A lot of people, including one of the Wood People’s children, are threatened with swords or knives in this episode.

Help us (40) Help us (64)

The exchange (54) Saxon camp (46)

Saxon camp (146) Showdown (26)


Dressed to kill?

The Wood People all wear cloaks, even indoors.

Intro (2) Parting gifts (15)

It was clearly quite cold when they were filming the first scene, as Arthur is wearing his big grey fur cloak, inside-out; Kai, his big cloak with the fur trim, and Llud, a kind of blanket, over the studded tunic he has had since “Arthur is Dead”, with his new green shirt underneath. Llud doesn’t change his costume for the whole episode.

When Arthur takes his cloak off, he reveals a shirt in wet-look leather, with the pale blue shirt underneath it, while Kai starts the episode in a the rather fancy purple tunic with fawn trim, first seen in "The Games." He evidently didn’t like it much, because it is never seen again. Perhaps it was a bit too feminine! Over it, he wears the same sleeveless leather jacket which he had on while fighting Corin in “The Pupil.”

Bring them in (27) A Race (15)

For the scene where the Celt woman complains about the Wood People, and also when he is handed over to the Saxons, Arthur wears the sleeveless sheepskin jacket from "The Prize" over his wet-look leather.

Costume A (1) Costume A (3)

When he is cauterising Badric’s wound, Kai wears the suede shirt first seen in “The Challenge.”

When the Wood People’s Elder slips into the longhouse, Kai is sleeping in the white cheesecloth shirt from “People of the Plough.” Arthur is still in the pale blue shirt.

During the scenes in the woods, Kai is wearing a dark brown studded suede jacket – possibly the same one as in “People of The Plough”, but with added studs.

Showdown (23) vlcsnap-2016-05-22-16h39m19s654

The hearing around the longhouse table, and the scene where they bid farewell to the Wood People, are probably some of the ones filmed on the same day as scenes from “The Pupil”, as Arthur, Kai and Llud are wearing the same basic costume in all of them.

The trial (11) vlcsnap-2016-05-21-22h51m19s158

The trial (6) vlcsnap-2016-05-21-22h58m30s180

Kai has reclaimed the pale blue shirt from Arthur, and also wears the green jacket with the big furry sleeves, with big white shaggy jacket on top, and Arthur is wearing his new dark brown studded tunic, with the circular designs on the chest.


“A man on a horse is worth ten on foot”

Arthur arrives back after his trip to see Dirk, riding Bernie. Kai rides Moonlight to go out and speak to the Wood People. Other than that, everyone travels on foot.


Honourable mention …

… for everyone’s favourite witchy granny, The Wood People’s Elder, played by Daphne Heard.


Extra! Extra!

Daphne Neville, whose field was flooded to drown the Saxons in “Arthur is Dead”, is the Wood Person standing to the right; the girl in the brown hood,who tells Arthur about the Saxon Leader, is her daughter, Perry.

This episode sees one of the earliest appearances by David Rappaport (front, centre), who would later star in “Time Bandits.”

The trial (25) Intro (12)

But he wasn’t among the eight Wood People waiting outside the palisade at the start of the episode. Where did he suddenly appear from? And why bring him in, if all he’s just going to stand there, without saying a word? Perhaps the obvious presence of a dwarf among the Wood People was intended to emphasise their role as outsiders.


What’s going on here?

Some of the Wood People have long staves, topped with what looks like wads of sheep’s wool. Their function is never explained. Luckily, they don’t seem to be weapons, because Arthur’s village looks as if it might be vulnerable to a spear, thrown from the hillside nearby!

Arthur has been to visit Dirk; but why haven’t we seen this important ally since the first episode? Perhaps it was because the actor, Donald Burton, was very busy on a number of projects, including both “Upstairs Downstairs” and “War and Peace.”

Arthur rather dryly asks Kai, “Are those Barbarians still plaguing us?” - though he must surely have seen them as he rode in!

The Wood People’s Elder goes alone to the longhouse, apparently intending to stab Arthur while he sleeps. Presumably, she intended to exchange him for the child hostages – but how did she plan to get his dead body out of the longhouse, on her own, without waking Llud and Kai? Perhaps these difficulties only occurred to her as she raised the knife, and were the reason for her sudden change of heart!

In any case, she could definitely have chosen a more convincing way to ask for help!

And one can’t blame Kai for being sceptical about the Wood People’s story. Why would a roving band of Saxon looters expected the Wood People to accomplish something they couldn’t do for themselves? Though, having said that, they did persuade Arthur to hand himself over to them!

Arthur asks one of the children about the Saxon’s leader, what she tells him appears to quickly convince Kai. Had they already heard about this ex-gladiator? And why are we never told the Saxon Leader’s name? Surely such a boastful fellow should have been bandying it about!

When they go out into the woods for the hostage exchange with the Saxons, Arthur shouts out to the Saxons, “The children first.” He seems to have forgotten that he’s supposed to be the Wood People’s prisoner, and as such, he shouldn’t be the one making demands.

When the Saxon Leader releases the first hostage, it seems a bit odd that the boy doesn’t eagerly run to Llud, though he doesn’t recognise him. The Saxon Leader seems so unpleasant that anyone would prefer to take their chances with a stranger.

Llud complains that the Saxon Leader always stays out in the open ground, and won’t move into the forest until they reach Saxon territory. But the Celts usually complain that the Saxons cut down all the forests. So why are most of the forests in Saxon lands, rather than around Arthur’s village?

The Wood People’s Elder gives Arthur a pouch containing more of the Herbs of Sleep, saying “you may yet find a use for them again.” Perhaps there were plans to include another story featuring these herbs, had there been a third series.

And perhaps it had already been decided that this episode would be shown last in season one. Kai’s “See you next year”, sounds as if it might be addressed, not just to the Wood Child, but to the audience as well.

Parting gifts (56) Parting gifts (58)


Music

Some of the music tracks used in this episode were:

Track 20, The Fair Rowena: the Wood People wait outside Arthur’s village.
Track 19, Celtic Dance: the Celts’ and Wood People’s children play together.
Track 15, At Dead of Night: the Wood People’s Elder approaches the sentry.
Track 17, Pensive Moment: Arthur questions the Wood Child.
Track 5: To Battle! – the prisoner exchange goes badly; Arthur is taken away.
Track 6, Infiltration and Treachery: Arthur surrenders; the Celts spy on the Saxons; the herbs of Sleep are gathered; Yan sacrifices his life for Arthur’s.
Track 8, Kai the Saxon/Skirmish and Rout: the Celts pursue the Saxon Leader.
Track 16, Danger Mounts: Arthur tricks the Saxon Leader.
Track 12, Duel: Arthur and the Saxon Leader fight.
Track 30, Night Scene: Arthur denounces the Saxon Leader’s behaviour.
Track 29, Pastoral Episode: the Celts bid the Wood People farewell.

The whole suite of music, beautifully written and orchestrated for the series by Paul Lewis, is now available on CD.


Cast

Arthur ……………....... Oliver Tobias
Kai ……………….…... Michael Gothard
Llud ………………...... Jack Watson
Saxon Leader ..….......... Bernard Bresslaw
Wood People’s Elder … Daphne Heard
Yan ……………….….. Christopher Douglas
Celt Woman ..…............ Laura Cairns
Child …………….….... Perry Neville
Woman ……………..... Daphne Neville
Badric ……………....... Eric Mason

Crew

Director ………….…... Sidney Hayers
Writer .……………….. David Osborn
Executive Producer ….. Patrick Dromgoole
Producer ……………... Peter Miller
Associate Producer ….. John Peverall
Production Manager … Keith Evans
Post-production ……... Barry Peters
Fight Arranger ………. Peter Brayham
Cameraman ………….. Bob Edwards
Camera Operators ….... Brian Morgan, Mike Haftie
Editor ………………... David Williams
Sound recordist …….... Mike Davey
Art Director …………. Doug James
Set Dresser ………….. Ken Bridgeman
Assistant Director …... Stuart Freeman
Production Assistant ... Ann Rees
Costume Design .……. Audrey MacLeod
Make-up …………….. Christine Penwarden
Incidental music …….. Paul Lewis
Theme music ………... Elmer Bernstein

1 Extreme weather resulted in the flooding of the site, prior to filming.

2 He was referring to The Writers’ Guild Award, shared with the other writers on the series.
Episode 1.11: The Wood People

Writer: David Osborne


OPENING SCENE


It is a winter’s day. A group of strangers – men, women and children in unfamiliar garb – stands on the rise, looking towards Arthur’s village.

Llud and Kai emerge from the longhouse, and look out at the strangers over the palisade.


Llud: Day after day, they’ve been standing there. Like carved statues.

Kai: They’ve the persistence of a hungry bear, waiting for a wolf cub to leave its lair. And would show as much mercy.

Llud: Perhaps.

Kai: They’re Wood People. They bring nothing but trouble.

Llud: When things go well, Kai, we thank our gods, but when trouble comes, we look elsewhere for the cause. Because they’re strange? They’re different? It’s easy to blame them for any misfortune.

Kai: They’re cursèd.

Arthur rides in through the gate. Kai goes to him and holds his horse’s head.

Kai: Welcome back. How was Dirk?

Arthur: Shifty. And as devious as ever.

Arthur dismounts.

Llud: Did he renew the treaty with us?

Arthur: He made his mark. He would disown it if it suited him. But I suppose we should be thankful. He demonstrates his wish for peace, even if it is only because he doesn’t feel strong enough for war.

Arthur goes towards the palisade and looks out at the Wood People.

Arthur: Are those barbarians still plaguing us?

Kai: They’re waiting for us to weaken and offer them hospitality.

Arthur: Then we will reward their patience with some action.

Kai comes to stand at Arthur’s shoulder.

Kai: I’ll take a couple of men and have them running over the boundaries into Cornwall by nightfall.

Arthur: You need only a horse. Ride out to them and offer them the food and shelter they seek.

Arthur goes inside, leaving Kai looking pensive.

[OPENING CREDITS]


PART 1

Read more... )
Plot

As Arthur rides towards his village, a young man, Corin, rides out of the stockade, brandishing a sword, and sets about him. Arthur effortlessly parries every attack, unseats Corin from his horse, and tells him he should take a few lessons. Corin says that’s why he’s here.

Arthur, Kai and Llud discuss Corin’s situation over a meal. Corin explains that he needs to learn how to fight, because his village is under constant attack from the Picts. Arthur tests Corin’s reactions, and decides to teach him.

We see Arthur, Kai and Llud giving Corin lessons in how to defend himself with – and against – many different weapons.

One evening, as they discuss Corin’s swift progress, they hear the clang of metal on metal. Llud goes out to the woods, and finds Corin practising, with terrible ferocity, on the target tree, and then on the wooden dummies.

Next morning, Llud tells Arthur he thinks there’s something wrong with Corin, but Arthur is so impressed by the boy’s enthusiasm, that he dismisses Llud’s concerns.

That day, as Arthur and Kai demonstrate some sparring techniques, Corin remembers seeing his father, Mordor, fighting a hooded swordsman. Mordor disarms the unknown warrior, who then uses a deft movement with his foot to retrieve his sword, runs Mordor through, and departs. Corin goes to his father. As Mordor dies, he charges Corin with avenging his death.

When Corin comes back to the present, Arthur engages him in a practice bout, but Corin seems distracted. To make him fight more fiercely, Arthur taunts him. Corin manages to knock Arthur’s sword to the ground, and Arthur uses the toe of his boot to retrieve his sword. Corin realises that it was Arthur who killed his father.

The following morning, when Arthur and Corin practise, Corin launches a surprise attack. Arthur defends himself, and tells Corin that he is too proficient to take such risks when sparring with a partner. But when they continue, Corin fights as if against a real enemy. Eventually, Arthur trips Corin, and he lands on his behind.

Corin asks Arthur to show him the trick he used yesterday, to retrieve his sword. When Arthur drops his weapon, Corin tries to bring his own blade down on Arthur’s head, but Arthur is too quick for him.

Arthur realises that Corin is Mordor’s son, but he refuses to send him away. He wants to persuade Corin that they don’t have to be enemies.

He tries to engage Corin in a discussion about the moral responsibilities of a warrior, but Corin is only interested in perfecting the trick with the sword. When Arthur lets him demonstrate his progress, Corin launches yet another – unsuccessful – attack on Arthur.

The next day, Arthur and Llud leave Kai in charge of Corin. Kai tells Corin he is to brush up on his defensive techniques against the axe. As they spar, Kai starts fighting more fiercely, then tells Corin he means to kill him, in revenge for the destruction Mordor wreaked, including the death in battle of a good friend of Kai’s.

While pleading for his life, Corin reasons that because Kai’s friend died in battle, it was a fair fight. When Kai replies that Mordor, too, was killed in a fair fight, Corin understands, and lets go of his quest for revenge.

As he leaves Arthur’s village, Corin asks his three mentors to consider what they would do, if one of them were to be killed. Arthur and Kai admit that they don’t know whether they would seek revenge. Llud remembers the day he found his homestead in flames, his son dead, and his wife dying, after a Saxon raid.

As his wife expires in his arms, Llud turns and sees a Saxon boy – young Kai – standing nearby. He cant bring himself to strike the boy down, and when he tries to send him away, Kai follows him. Llud then learns that both Kai’s parents are dead, so he adopts him.

As Corin is riding home, Arthur catches up with him, and mounts a mock-attack; Corin defends himself to Arthur’s satisfaction, and the two ride off together, Arthur intending to continue Corin’s lessons.


Timeline

"The Pupil" appears after "The Games" on the "Konig Arthur" DVDs and in the "Konig Arthur" book. Seasonal cues also suggest this order. The trees are relatively bare, and darkness fell early enough that artificial lighting was needed for the scene where Arthur tries to talk to Corin about the ethics of a warrior.

In 1972, the daughter of one of Michael's friends visited Woollard, and saw parts of two episodes being filmed. She says, “they were not filming it in proper order. We spent two days there, and they were finishing ‘The Pupil’ with Peter Firth, then leaping on to ‘The Wood People’, then going back to ‘The Pupil.’”

Suggested shooting order so far

Arthur is Dead
Daughter of the King
The Challenge
The Gift of Life
Enemies and Lovers
In Common Cause
The Penitent Invader
The Slaves
People of the Plough
Go Warily
The Prisoner
The Duel
Rowena
Some Saxon Women
The Marriage Feast
The Prize
Six Measures of Silver/Rolf the Preacher
The Games
The Pupil/The Wood People


Locations

Most of the sparring takes place outside the stockade on the south east side of the village at Woollard, though some was filmed in a nearby copse.

Serious (9a) Target (22)

Camera operator Roger Pearce remembers filming Peter Firth "under a stone bridge or culvert ... very close to the weir" - the one across which Kai swims in "In Common Cause".

Avenge me! (32) Avenge me! (28)

As to the fight in the Long House, Roger says, "I can’t remember why we remained inside. It may have been scripted that way or, indeed if the weather was poor, a decision would have been taken to do it there." More of Roger's memories can be found here.

The structures that make up Llud’s homestead, seen in flames during his flashback, appear to be the ones that made up Freya and Rulf's homestead in "People of the Plough."

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Inside information

A.S. recalls: “Arthur of the Britons does reveal a fair amount of the "real" Michael … In ‘The Pupil’, that lovely, lovely smile and laugh right at the beginning was typical Michael. You just had to smile with him when he smiled. It lit up a room.”

Corin attacks (59)

More of her memories can be found here.

When asked whether it was scary having Jack Watson yelling at him, Timothy Peverall, who played "Young Kai" in the flashback scene, replied, “Very much so - and he was a family friend! The scene with Jack Watson was one take, I'm sure! He was very convincing, I'll never forget that.”

More of Tim's memories can be found here.

Roger Pearce says that while waiting to film near the weir, he and Peter Firth "chatted about girls between takes"!


Cast notes

Peter Firth was already known to children’s TV, as Scooper, in comedy series, “Here Come the Double-Deckers.” His role as Corin must have been a bit of a change of pace!

Double Deckers MG in Lifeforce 3

In 1985, Peter Firth was to work with Michael Gothard again, on the cult sci-fi film “Lifeforce”. Peter is perhaps best known for his role as Harry Pearce in the spy drama series, “Spooks.”


Re-working the legend

In the Arthurian legend, only the infant Arthur is adopted; Merlin gives him to Ector, who raises him as a brother to Kay, who is Ector's own son. But like the Sir Kay of Arthurian tradition, Kai becomes one of Arthur’s stalwart allies.

According to Executive Producer, Patrick Dromgoole, “Corin was an echo of the evil Mordred, underlined by the choice of his father’s name.” More of Patrick Dromgoole’s memories can be found here.


Family Ties

The last insight we were given into Kai’s past came in “The Prisoner”, when, prompted by childhood friend, Roland, Kai remembered the times they shared in their home village. In “The Pupil”, the final piece of Kai’s – and Llud’s – backstory slots into place.

The flashback at the end of the episode reveals that Llud had a wife and son of his own, but both were killed during a raid by the Saxons. Llud asks a young lad, left standing in the burning ruins of his village, where his father is. Young Kai points to a body. His father must have taken him along on the raid, because – as young Kai reveals with a shake of his head – his mother is already dead.

Corin, too, is an orphan of war; his father, Mordor, was killed by Arthur, who is realistic enough to acknowledge that Corin will always see his father as a hero. Though Arthur and Kai know better, Corin insists that Mordor, “was no butcher.”

In fact, this episode is about a pair of very different fathers and sons: Mordor, who, with his dying words – “Avenge me” – lays a terrible burden upon his teenage son, and Llud, who, in the moments after the loss of his wife, resists the temptation to take out his pain on the son of his enemy, and chooses to care for him instead.

Young Kai (122)

When Llud tousles young Kai’s hair, it harks back to Kai, tousling Krist’s hair, in “The Gift of Life.”

Escaping (79)

Back then, Kai had been reluctant to take on the temporary care of the “Saxon brats”, but Arthur had reminded him of how Llud looked after him as a child. In "The Pupil", we finally learn how that came about.


Arthur’s wisdom

Knowledge of Arthur’s strategy of forming a network of alliances has already spread far and wide. Corin demonstrates this when he suggests to Arthur, “Teach me to fight and I will return to my village and teach them what I have learnt. Then instead of being weak sisters, we will be a granite stone in the wall of your defences.”

Less well-known, but equally important to Arthur, is a philosophy based on honesty, and purity of motive: “Be clear in your heart that your cause is just. … Hate and malice are bad counsellors for the fighting man.” Later, he follows Corin with the aim of teaching him “when, and why” he should choose to fight.


The perfect lieutenant

None of Corin’s three tutors wants to kill him, but the young man’s determination to kill Arthur puts them in a difficult position.

As Mordor’s killer, Arthur will never be able to get through to Corin, but neither can he bring himself to despatch the son, as well as the father. And Llud probably couldn’t kill Corin, who is little more than a child, or stand by while it happened. So Arthur decides to take Llud away with him, and tells Kai, “… you stay here. We’ll be back by nightfall.”

No wonder Kai looks pensive; without being given the order, he knows exactly what is expected of him. Because however much he might hate it, both he and Arthur know that he is capable of killing in cold blood.1 And if he can’t persuade Corin to give up his quest for vengeance, there might be no alternative.

Kai knows (3) Kai knows (15)

Perhaps Mordor really did kill “a very dear friend” of Kai’s in battle, or perhaps Kai invented the story to make his point. What matters, is that Corin believes it, and makes the only argument he can in his defence: “it was a fair fight.” Kai is no doubt relieved that Corin’s epiphany regarding Mordor’s death spares him from getting blood on his hands again.


Dark Age Men

When Corin isn’t fighting very well, Arthur asks him, “What are you? A nursemaid?” and threatens to send him “to play with the girls.”

Oliver Tobias is actually reported to have encouraged his daughters, Anjelika and Celeste, to learn a martial art for self-defence.


Don’t call me old!

Llud's not afraid to admit that "Even the greatest warrior needs sleep", but he seems to have great fun teaching Corin, and he doesn’t pull his punches!

Spears (16b) Spears (17)

His famous nose twitches – he’s the first to realise, “there’s something wrong with the boy.”


Dressed to kill?

For most of the episode, Arthur is wearing his new dark brown studded tunic, with the circular designs on the chest; Llud is in his green shirt and studded tunic, and Kai wears the pale blue shirt, and the green jacket with the big furry sleeves. When Kai has to fight, he sheds the two jackets in favour of a light suede affair.

Young Kai (26) Axe (4)

These are basically the same costumes they wear for two scenes in the concurrently-filmed episode, “The Wood People”: the hearing around the longhouse table, and the scene where they bid farewell to their guests.

The trial (28) Parting gifts (23b)

Corin’s flashback is the first scene in which we see Arthur wearing a cloak with the hood up.

Avenge me! (18g)


Great moments

The expression on Arthur’s face as he is incompetently attacked by Corin is priceless.

Corin attacks (13) Corin attacks (40)

The blocking, and the interaction between the characters, during the initial discussion in the longhouse, is interesting. Arthur and Corin sit on either side of a low table, but Arthur’s status is emphasised by his big chair, compared to Corin’s three-legged stool. But Kai is sitting higher up, and Llud is standing. When considering Corin’s request, Arthur first looks up at Llud for his opinion, as though he were the most qualified to judge. Llud, apparently non-committal, defers to Kai; Arthur looks up at Kai, who very slightly shrugs one shoulder. Only then does Arthur make the final decision, by testing Corin’s reactions.

TMTF (9) Kai knows (3)

There are some great scenes where the actors show off their weapons skills in teaching Corin to fight, and a few nice domestic scenes, such as the one above, where Kai is fettling his axe.

Peter Firth – who was 19 at the time – was convincing as the recalcitrant teenager, looking angry and flustered when he can’t get the better of Arthur, and giving monosyllabic responses to Arthur’s discussion points.

Serious (147) Warrior's mind (47)

In the fabulous scene where Kai brutally turns on Corin in an attempt to save his life, Corin looks absolutely terrified, as well he might.

Showdown (37) Showdown (34)

Showdown (45) Showdown (81)

The moment Llud lowers his sword, and ruffles young Kai’s hair, is very touching.


‘That is bloody dangerous!’

Arthur tips Corin off his horse, and later grabs his sword from behind his chair, and slams it down towards Corin’s head. Corin tips himself back off his stool onto the floor, to avoid the blow.

Corin attacks (69) TMTF (53)

Axe (8) Axe (26)

Kai’s axe-blade, even when wrapped in cloth, is still heavy and dangerous. Llud throws a spear and hits Corin in the stomach. On more than one occasion, Corin attacks Arthur.

Serious (75) Serious (92)

Warrior's mind (72) Warrior's mind (73)

Kai has a lot of axes to choose from!

Showdown (3) Showdown (33)

His fight with Corin is quite brutal, and the furniture takes a bit of a beating.

Showdown (30) Showdown (56)


Quote/unquote

Corin: Thought I should learn from the best.

Corin: I couldn’t hold my own against a new-born calf.

Llud: Even the greatest warrior needs sleep.

Arthur: Don’t draw back! That tells your enemy your mind.

Kai: Your shield arm should be as deft and quick as the one that holds the sword.

Arthur: Thought’s good in a warrior. Not if it keeps him awake.

Arthur: A fighting man in practice has a duty to be careful.

Arthur: Skill at arms brings a great responsibility with it – never to wield a sword slyly … or ignobly. Be clear in your heart that your cause is just. … Hate and malice are bad counsellors for the fighting man. In the end, they will destroy him … If a man has a quarrel, he must state it openly ... and not strike like a snake. His enemy may have things to be said on his side, too.

Kai: It’s different today, isn’t it? It’s always different when you’re fighting for your life.

Corin: I’m a man. You could have talked to me like a man.

Llud: … if men always thought as men, it would mean that we were already in paradise.


On the table

Chicken and pears.

TMTF (1)


“A man on a horse is worth ten on foot”

Arthur rides Bernie; reliable Merlin is entrusted with Corin.


What’s going on here?

When Corin first attacks Arthur, he appears to have ridden out of the stockade to do so. What was he doing in there? Had he already introduced himself to Kai and Llud? If not, the sentries need a good talking to!

Corin attacks (3)

Corin claims he can’t defend himself, so he’s lucky to have made it safely from the land of the Picts, six or seven days’ ride away, on his own.

And if the Picts live so far away, they must have been very determined when they came all that way south, on foot, to attack Arthur’s people in “The Penitent Invader”; one wonders what he did to annoy them so much!

It’s hardly surprising Corin has difficulty when practising with the dummies; the sword Arthur gives him is almost as big as he is!

Dummies (48) Dummies (31)

Arthur says he recognised Corin as Mordor’s son because Corin made the same mistake as his father. He never explains what that was.

Even when Corin has made several attempts on Arthur’s life, no one suggests that Arthur should kill him, even though Corin has left him with few options.

This episode is the first and only time we see anyone doing weapons drills indoors. Arthur and Llud were to be back by nightfall, so presumably, Kai’s final fight with Corin is supposed to have taken place during daylight hours, when one might expect them to do their sparring outside. Perhaps as the nights drew in, the cast and crew ran out of time to film the scene outdoors. However, the chosen setting certainly makes the scene claustrophobic and intense, so perhaps it was a deliberate choice.

If Corin’s father was such a brute as everyone (except Corin) thinks he was, it seems odd that the rest of the men of the village are such poor fighters.

Corin complains that his tutors should have talked to him like a man, instead of play-acting. But Arthur did try very hard to get through to him, to no avail.

The question Corin asks Arthur, Kai and Llud – what they would do, if one of them were slain – is pertinent. Llud says he “answered that question a long time ago”, but that’s not strictly true. Taking revenge by killing the person who was actually responsible for your friend or relative’s death is not the same as killing that person’s innocent child.

You would think that as Llud’s wife lay dying, he would have called her by name, instead of just addressing her as, “Wife … Wife!” Sadly, her identity - like that of the Saxon Leader, in “The Wood People” - remains a mystery!

Young Kai (60) Young Kai (62)


Music

The whole suite of music, beautifully written and orchestrated for the series by Paul Lewis, is now available on CD. Oddly, the music used when Corin first attacks Arthur, and when Arthur and Mordor fight, does not seem to have been included on the CD.

Some of the music tracks used in this episode were:

Track 22, Revelry: Corin spars with Arthur.
Track 19, Celtic Dance: Corin learns the spear.
Track 4, Sentinels: Corin remembers.
Track 6, Infiltration and Treachery: Corin is serious; Kai and Llud express concern.
Track 30, Night Scene: Corin departs; Llud remembers.
Track 16, Danger Mounts: Llud spares Young Kai.
Track 27, Apotheosis: Arthur catches up with Corin.


Cast

Arthur ……………....... Oliver Tobias
Kai ……………….…... Michael Gothard
Llud ………………...... Jack Watson
Corin …………….….... Peter Firth
Llud’s wife …………... Trisha Mortimer
Mordor ……………...... Gerry Wain
Young Kai ……………. Tim Peverall

Crew

Director ………….…... Sidney Hayers
Writer .……………….. Terence Feely
Executive Producer ….. Patrick Dromgoole
Producer ……………... Peter Miller
Associate Producer ….. John Peverall
Production Manager … Keith Evans
Post-production ……... Barry Peters
Fight Arranger ………. Peter Brayham
Cameraman …………. Graham Edgar
Camera Operator …..... Roger Pearce
Editor ………………... Barry Peters
Sound recordist …….... Gordon Kethro
Art Director …………. Doug James
Assistant Director …... Stuart Freeman
Production Assistant ... Maggie Hayes
Costume Design .……. Audrey MacLeod
Make-up …………….. Christine Penwarden
Incidental music …….. Paul Lewis
Theme music ………... Elmer Bernstein

1 In “Enemies and Lovers”, Kai executed Goda, with whom he had been in love.
These recollections were offered by the daughter of one of Michael's friends.

Michael was very enthusiastic about being cast, and my parents were very proud of him. I didn't see it as a big deal until I visited the set with my father, in 1972, when I was 15.

The first time I saw ‘Arthur of the Britons’ was on set; it was a real eye opener. When we arrived, and met up with Michael, he was in costume, and about to start filming. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, Michael does look really cool.’ I had known him since I was ten, and he was the big brother I'd never had. Up until the set visit, it hadn't dawned on me that Michael was an actor, because I had not seen him in anything before ‘Arthur of the Britons.’

I remember being impressed and star-struck with everything. It all seemed so REAL, and it was literally dawn to dusk, and just so quick. You would never get actors to work at that pace today! Michael said there were lots of times when they were running out of time, and the director would say: ‘We have to do this in one take, let's get it right!’ and they did!

We saw some fight scenes rehearsed, and I clearly remember they were very well put together. All the actors could ride, and do their own fight scenes, which is why it looked so good. By today's standards, it was virtually live; no stunt doubles, a quick rehearsal then film. Michael’s axe was incredibly heavy. He was extremely fit; they all were.

Health and Safety? Michael has a scene where he is supposed to cauterise a wound, in ‘The Wood People’: real sword in real fire, only substituted at the last minute! Child actors running round close to the fire! I don't remember any rehearsal for that either. I honestly think they read the script, and did it!

The atmosphere did seem friendly and happy: organised chaos. Some bits are hazy, but it's the pace and how hard they worked that I remembered. On our second day, one minute Michael was in jeans and T shirt, the next, in costume and ready to go. I'm sure there was some sort of make up, but I don't recall that.

We saw parts of two episodes being filmed. One was ‘The Wood People’ and the other was ‘The Pupil’, but they were not filming it in proper order. We spent two days there, and they were finishing ‘The Pupil’ with Peter Firth, then leaping on to ‘The Wood People’, then going back to ‘The Pupil.’

I found Oliver Tobias a bit intimidating, but he was really nice and very friendly when I went to meet him. Michael and Oliver did seem very good friends, and I know they socialised while filming ‘Arthur of the Britons.’

Michael got on really well with Jack Watson too. Father and I really liked him, but we only met him that time on the ‘Arthur of the Britons’ set. We had dinner together Michael, my father, Jack Watson and me. I think a fair amount of alcohol was drunk after I went to bed!

~~

Arthur of the Britons does reveal a fair amount of the "real" Michael.

In ‘The Pupil’, that lovely, lovely smile and laugh right at the beginning was typical Michael. You just had to smile with him when he smiled. It lit up a room.

In ‘Daughter of the King’, the bit where he sort of nudges Arthur? That was a typical Michael thing. If he wanted something he would come and sit next to you and give that little nudge. If there was no response, he would give a bigger nudge, and so on and so on, until you caved in!

The slow blink was ALL Michael. He did that a lot if he was emotional.

In ‘The Wood People’, when he slowly turns his head and looks at Arthur when he teases him by the fire about the ‘witches.’ He would do EXACTLY that if I was a bit cheeky or he suspected a crime.

Michael had a way of saying ‘ahh!’ in a certain was if he was exasperated! He did just that towards the end of ‘The Wood People.’ He used that ‘ahh!’ at home quite a bit! He used it when Alfie the miniature dachshund would get on his bed, and growl if anyone tried to get him off. He used it with me on many occasions!

In ‘The Duel’, just after the ant race, they are about to fight, and Michael sort of grins, half sticks his tongue out. That was not acting. If he was messing about, winding Alf up, or making a grab for me, he would have that playful, wicked expression on his face.

There is a bit in ‘Enemies and Lovers’ where Kai runs up to a girl, arms outstretched to hug her. He did that ALL the time: long arms outstretched.

Near the beginning of ‘The Marriage Feast’, Michael is sitting with Jack Watson and teasing Arthur. He says ‘Ooooooo!’ That was Michael too: as characteristic as the ‘ahh!’ He would use ‘Ooooooo’ if he was teasing.

At the end of "Go Warily", when Arthur and Kai are winding Llud up, you see Kai laughing at the trick he has played; that was exactly the way he was if he was laughing so hard he couldn't stop.

The more I see of ‘Arthur of the Britons’, the more I see that there is SO much of Michael in Kai.

I never heard Michael say anything negative about ‘Arthur of the Britons.’ We all got the opinion he really enjoyed making it, and he definitely enjoyed working with Oliver Tobias and Jack Watson. He was very proud of taking us to visit.

~~
Episode 1.7: The Pupil

Writer: Terence Feely


OPENING SCENE


Arthur is riding towards the village. A young man, Corin, rides out of the stockade, brandishing a sword, and sets about Arthur, with more enthusiasm than expertise. Arthur defends himself, at first bemused, and then somewhat irritated.

Kai and Llud rush out of the longhouse to see what going on. Their worry turns to amusement, as Arthur effortlessly parries every attack, then unseats his attacker, who tumbles from his horse. Corin runs and picks up his sword, apparently intending to continue the attack.


Arthur: Stay! [Arthur points his sword at Corin] Who are you?

Corin: Corin.

Arthur: [with barely suppressed anger] If you intend to go around attacking people like that, I suggest you take a few lessons.

Corin: Oh, from you? That’s why I’m here. I just wanted you to see how bad I am.

Arthur smiles.

[OPENING CREDITS]


PART 1

Read more... )
Plot

The episode begins with Mark of Cornwall, practising his wrestling skills, for some Games, to be held in Arthur’s village. Between bouts, one of Mark’s advisors, Herrick, suggests that these Games will enhance Arthur’s reputation with the Celtic tribes, at Mark’s expense. They agree to try to stop Arthur’s alliance from becoming too powerful and united, too quickly.

In Arthur’s village, preparations for the Games are in full swing. As Arthur and Llud suggest changes to the long jump course, Mark, Herrick, and three other Cornishmen arrive, and Mark indulges in some banter with Arthur and Llud, who then privately mock his boastfulness.

Noticing Yorath and the Jutish party approaching, Mark greets them with a few gratuitous insults. Herrick and Mark discuss whether Arthur and his people will be as easy to provoke as Yorath.

Kai overhears them, and tells Arthur and Llud that Mark intends to cause trouble.

That night, Arthur meets up with Rowena, who is hoping for a romantic interlude on the torch-lit bridge. But Arthur – between kissing her – asks her to spy on Mark and Herrick, and she goes off in a huff.

While Yorath and some other visiting chiefs are dicing and drinking, one of the chiefs brings up a past dispute. They nearly come to blows, but another chief gets between them, and they make friends again.

Rowena interrupts the game, to tell Yorath what Arthur has asked of her.  She wants to go home, and threatens to ask Yorath’s champion wrestler, Trederne to take her.  Yorath urges her to help Arthur; everyone will benefit, if the alliance stays strong.

Next morning, Rowena approaches Mark, and offers to help him against Arthur. But when Mark tests her resolve, she admits that she doesn’t have the stomach to hurt Arthur.

Then Rowena talks to one of Mark’s young Cornishmen – Barth – whom she finds by the river, training for the foot-race. Barth reveals that Mark’s plan is to provoke Arthur and his men into drawing their weapons, thus spoiling the Games.

When she passes the information to Arthur, he pretends to be jealous over her conversation with Barth.

The Games begin with the long jump. An old man tells tall tales of past feats of athletic prowess, and everyone seems in a good mood.

While watching some men compete at catching piglets, Arthur, Kai and Llud discuss what to do when Mark's provocation begins.

Kai and Barth line up with some other young men, and the foot-race begins. Kai is in the lead, but as they turn back, Barth trips him, and he falls. He gets up and finishes the race, but Barth wins. Kai congratulates Barth on his victory, and when Mark accuses Kai of fouling Barth, Kai apologises.

Next, Arthur takes part in a riding event, where each competitor has to retrieve a piece of cloth from the ground, while riding at speed. Arthur succeeds, but as he holds his target aloft, one of Herrick’s henchmen flourishes a cloak in front of Arthur’s horse, and Arthur falls off. He manages to keep his temper, and pretends to blame his horse for being too easily startled.

Llud then competes in a race, hauling a sled full of rocks. One of Mark’s men appears to knock Llud over. Llud gets up and finishes the race, coming in third. He congratulates the winner, then apologises to Mark’s man, for obstructing him.

Last is the wrestling contest. As Mark gets ready, Herrick tells him they have failed to provoke Llud. Mark realises that Arthur must have known of their plan. Herrick tries to persuade Mark to provoke Yorath to violence, by cheating during his championship bout with Yorath’s wrestler. An outraged Mark almost strangles Herrick.

Yorath’s party arrives, and the contest between Mark and Trederne begins. They seem fairly well matched, but Mark - without cheating – comes out on top, and the two embrace.

Arthur publicly congratulates Mark, suggests that he hosts next year’s games, and offers the Cornish party hospitality for the night. Mark accepts. Herrick tries to persuade Mark to make trouble at the banquet; Mark throws him into the pig pen, and announces that next year’s Games will be in Cornwall.

That night, Arthur approaches Rowena, who is - once again - hoping for romance on the torch-lit bridge. But Kai calls, and Arthur asks Rowena to wait, while he teaches Mark’s men a lesson. Rowena looks resentful.

Arthur joins Kai, Llud, and four more of his men, and they rush into the longhouse, where a ruckus ensues. Rowena turns her back. Arthur and his men swagger out of the longhouse, laughing and play-fighting, evidently pleased with themselves.


Timeline

"The Games" appears after "Six Measures of Silver" on the "Konig Arthur" DVDs, and in the "Konig Arthur" book. Seasonal cues also support this order.

Suggested shooting order so far

Arthur is Dead
Daughter of the King
The Challenge
The Gift of Life
Enemies and Lovers
In Common Cause
The Penitent Invader
The Slaves
People of the Plough
Go Warily
The Prisoner
The Duel
Rowena
Some Saxon Women
The Marriage Feast
The Prize
Six Measures of Silver/Rolf the Preacher
The Games


Locations

This episode was filmed in the village at Woollard.  For the opening scene, set in Mark’s village, some large sheets of cloth have been hung from poles, to hide the fact that Mark was practising his wrestling moves in Arthur’s village!

Intro (27)

The scene where Mark and Yorath arrive is filmed on the north east side of the village, and the scene where Rowena tries to join Mark’s plot is on the south west side of the longhouse.

Can't fool Mark (7)

Most of the contests take place outside the palisade, to the east of the site. In the scene at the end, Arthur and his men enter the longhouse through the door at the south east end, and one of the brawlers is subsequently thrown out of the south west door.

Sled pull (1) Night games (25)


Cast notes

In real life, Drew Henley must have been considerably more charismatic than his character, Herrick. Before his final marriage to Linda Lee Henley, he was married to Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan from “Blake’s Seven”) for four years, and to Felicity Kendall (Barbara from “The Good Life”) for eleven.

Drew Henley Drew Henley 2

In 1977, shortly before he gave up show business, he appeared in “Star Wars - A New Hope” as X-Wing Squadron Red Leader Garven Dreis.

Christopher Mitchell, who played Barth, later appeared in “It Ain't Half Hot Mum”, as Gunner Nigel 'Parky' Parkin.

The spy (19) Parky

Rollo Gamble was a writer, director and producer as well as an actor. His role as peacemaker Erwith was one of his last; he died in 1973.

The fellow who waved his cloak at Arthur’s horse, credited as “Celt”, was played by Terence Woodfield.

The wrestler Trederne features quite prominently, but - despite having a line in the scene where he was dicing with Yorath and some other chiefs - he was uncredited. While it is possible that he was one of Peter Brayham’s stunt team, some wrestling afficionados have suggested that he might be “Jumping” Jim Hussey1, who would have been about 48 at the time.

Jim Jim 7




Author note

Though “The Games” was perhaps the least political of David Osborn’s three credited scripts, Mark’s relationship with the other Celtic chiefs, and his attitude to the alliance, may have had more obvious significance when it was written.

Herrick argues that the alliance weakens Mark’s position, but Mark wisely argues, “I am part of that alliance … The alliance is, in itself, a good thing … To join forces against our common enemy the Saxons must be a sensible plan.” And in the end - though tempted by Herrick’s isolationist arguments, and happy to try to cause Arthur some embarrassment, if he can do it covertly - Mark decides that his status within the organisation matters more than an individualist agenda.

The episode was filmed just a few weeks before Britain joined the Common Market, on 1 January 1973.


Filming

In Arthur’s first scene on the bridge with Rowena, the flaming torches suggest that their quarrel was supposed to take place at night, but appears to have been filmed late afternoon, while the final scene on the bridge was filmed at night.

Rowena (1)  Night games (2)


Re-working the legend

If this series had been set in Camelot, one might have expected jousting, spear-throwing, and sword-fighting to be part of any formal games. Arthur’s event is more like a cross between a country fair and the Olympic Games.

Competitors participate in the long jump, a foot race, shot-putt, sled-pull, catch-a-pig, picking up scarf from horseback, and wrestling. Mark also mentions “the hand-to-hand” - though how this differs from Mark’s wrestling contest is not explained - and “the tournament”: presumably a quarterstaff contest, as staves were used.

Of course, if edged weapons had been part of the official games, it would have been harder to make an issue of the drawing of swords in anger, and in any case, an Arthurian tournament in microcosm had already been acted out by Arthur and Kai, in an earlier episode, “The Challenge.”


The elephant and the flea

Herrick has styled himself as Mark's advisor, and Mark seems content to listen, and to let Herrick stroke his ego: “Who is the most powerful king in The West? … You”. But when Herrick asks what Mark has to lose by participating in the Games, Mark’s reply - “You, I suspect, are about to tell me”- shows a healthy cynicism.

Llud neatly sums up the relationship at the heart of the episode: “Mark doesn’t care if Herrick exists or not. They’re the elephant and the flea.” But Herrick is a flea who doesn’t know when to stop biting.

Even after an incredulous Mark has almost strangled him for suggesting that he cheat in the wrestling final, Herrick persists, suggesting that they start trouble during the celebration feast; he gets thrown in with the pigs, for his trouble.


A fine romance

Since Arthur and Rowena met, their relationship has followed a pattern: Rowena makes an approach, and Arthur rebuffs her, but eventually helps solve her problem. In “Rowena”, he took her to be married to Hecla, but eventually gave the “butterfly” back her wings. In “Some Saxon Women”, he refused to interfere when Yorath wanted to sell the women into slavery, but then shamed Yorath into dropping his plan, and was reconciled with Rowena. In “The Marriage Feast”, Rowena’s impending marriage to Mark of Cornwall forced Arthur to intervene, and at the end, Arthur hinted that they would spend the journey to her father’s village discussing wedding plans of their own.

But in “Six Measures of Silver”, Rowena's hopeful enquiry about Arthur suggested that if any such plans were made, they had came to nothing; it looked as though Rowena had not seen Arthur for some time.

"The Games" gives Arthur ample opportunities to frustrate and disappoint poor Rowena even more - and he takes every one of them.

First, he turns what Rowena hoped would be a tryst, into an attempt to recruit her as a spy. To add insult to injury, he prefaces this with sweet talk: “sleep will not come to a man whose thoughts are as troubled as mine. Thoughts of you.”

She can hardly be blamed for saying she hopes that Mark and Herrick’s plan is to break Arthur’s neck!

To make matters worse, her father – who didn’t witness the sledgehammer manipulation which ruined his daughter’s romantic evening - doesn’t understand why she is hurt.  He sides with Arthur, and calls it, “one of your usual stupid quarrels” - leaving us to wonder how many of these quarrels we haven’t seen, and what they were about.

Rowena asks, “Am I Arthur’s slave, to be ordered to do this or that whenever he snaps his fingers?” She is genuinely upset, which makes her decision to help Arthur all the more laudable.

It must be hurtful to realise that everyone thinks Arthur is leading her on. Even Mark of Cornwall knows enough about the state of their relationship to make a crude joke: “What’s he done? Or is it more what he hasn’t done?” There is some genuine feeling in her plea, “If there’s a knife to be thrust, let me thrust it. Let me be the first.”

But when confronted with the real possibility of Arthur being hurt - “Here’s a knife. And there’s Arthur!” - Rowena turns with an anguished gasp. She may even have thought Mark had actually seen Arthur approaching, and thrown a knife at him. When she sees the knife lodged in a hanging water-skin, she can’t hide her relief, and when Mark asks, “Is that what you want?” she has to admit that it isn’t.

Even when she has given Arthur the information he wants, he carries on manipulating her, pretending violent jealousy of “that young warrior of Mark’s”.  His play-acting convinces Llud and Kai, who clearly expect trouble; Llud even tries to mollify him. Then, with complete confidence that Rowena has eyes for no one else, Arthur cynically mocks her: “I couldn’t spoil her moment of triumph”. He plays games with her for his own amusement, and that of his friends.

So, since “The Marriage Feast”, Arthur’s attitude to Rowena has gone from being sufficiently jealous to risk death at the hands of Mark of Cornwall, to completely detached and emotionless. Perhaps, when he said that his motivation in stopping the wedding was to stop Mark of Cornwall from getting his hands on Rowena’s lands, Arthur was at least partly telling the truth. But if he thought her talking to Barth was such a joke, why was he keeping such a close eye on her, in the first place?

Hoping that her participation in the foiling of Mark and Herrick’s plan has earned her some credit in Arthur’s eyes, poor Rowena once again meets him on the torch-lit bridge. But as usual, business comes first; when Kai calls, Arthur asks her to wait, so that he can go and take revenge on Mark and his men for cheating at the games, and leaves her standing there, alone.


Fun and Games for Dark Age Men

These Games provide more opportunities than usual for macho posturing. Mark is especially competitive - Arthur is wrong if he “thinks Mark and his Cornishmen prefer meat and ale, to going home champions!”

Even Llud is not immune from bragging.  With the silver hand which disqualifies him from the hand-to-hand combat, he thumps Mark’s thigh, and says that if he were allowed to participate, Mark “might as well go home …”

Mark then asks Arthur – “are you going to give me the pleasure of rubbing your nose in the dust, in the wrestling?” Arthur implies that wrestling isn’t skilful enough for him, and Mark calls equestrian competitions, “games for women and children.”

Mark neatly insults both Rowena and the Jutish wrestling champion, Trederne, by pretending to think they are sisters, and tells Yorath to send Trederne back, “to play … with the children.”

When Rowena approaches him, Mark says, “I suppose you’ve come to plead for that girl-child, Trederne – to beg for his cracked ribs?” He eats in a deliberately uncouth manner, spitting out a mouthful of food. He belches. He makes a crude joke about her lack of progress with Arthur, and when she admits she doesn’t want to hurt Arthur, he says, “Just like a woman. No action, and all talk.”

With astute powers of observation, Barth admits the Mark is “a fine warrior, but not always as gentle with women as he might”.

And before the wrestling bout, just to show that he isn’t above some bragging, Yorath asks Mark’s men whether they brought a broom, to sweep up Mark’s “splintered bones”.


The best laid plans …

Presumably, Arthur’s Games are meant to bring the tribes together, to celebrate and strengthen the Celtic alliance, and not simply – as Herrick would have Mark believe – to put one over on Mark!

Mark and Herrick’s counter-plan to disrupt the games would have gone better if they hadn’t talked so loudly about it in Arthur’s village! The fact that Rowena knew something was afoot, and asked to join in, should have given Mark a clue that they’d been rumbled.

The hapless Barth, easily charmed by Rowena’s sad face, gives away the entire plot, explaining that she can’t join in, because no provocation from her would achieve the desired result.

Rowena warns Arthur that he will be provoked, “so it will be you who first draws the sword. The Games will be ruined, and you will be discredited.”

Though it is Arthur who determines that, “When they do provoke us, we smile, and hold our temper even if it’s fit to burst”, it is he who has most difficulty sticking to this!

Barth is understandably disconcerted by their failure to provoke Arthur; he must be worried that Mark will find out it was he who gave the game away!  Oddly, Mark doesn’t try to apportion blame, but puts it down to Arthur’s cunning: “Blast him for a fox! He’s put us down.”

Herrick, still bent on getting his way, thinks that if Mark cheats at the wrestling, Yorath will draw a weapon, and Arthur’s treaty with the Jutes will force him to draw in support.
But Mark’s championship is more important to him than Herrick’s plot. In the end, it seems that the alliance will hold firm, as Mark agrees to host the Games in Cornwall next year.

Arthur’s treacherous and childish revenge attack on the Cornish party - a flagrant violation of the rules of hospitality - seems almost calculated to destroy the reputation he has worked so hard to protect.


Yorath’s Wisdom

Yorath may be an old stick-in-the-mud, but he does talk sense to Rowena.

“Tonight we drink, and cast dice. Not long ago, it was a different sort of game. It was the ring of swords and the screaming of men dying. War and armies, year in, year out. If Mark and Herrick – that toad – if they’re up to no good, and you can flush them out, you’re doing all of us a service. Not just Arthur – all of us.”


"By the Gods!"

When the dice don’t fall kindly for Yorath, Erwith jokingly suggests that the gods are punishing him for his sins. 

Rowena is still wearing a cross around her neck.


Great moments

Arthur, taking an interest in the minutiae: “A line to mark the jumping-off place is no good. Two or three contestants, it’ll disappear – there’ll be arguments … Sink in a narrow log instead, here.”

Mark’s pretence at embarrassment when he “mistakes” Trederne for Rowena’s sister.

Rowena’s refusal to give in to Arthur’s bullying …

The spy (55) Pig wrestling (12)

… and Kai’s weather-defying fashion-statement.

Kai - after losing the foot race - stalking purposefully towards Barth, as if to start a fight, then congratulating him with a back-handed compliment. Mark’s look of befuddled outrage.

Mark’s refusal to risk his wrestling championship for the sake of his plot.

Arthur’s men, preparing for a rumble.


Quote/unquote

Mark: The alliance is, in itself, a good thing …

Arthur: Sleep will not come to a man whose thoughts are as troubled as mine.

Yorath: Tonight we drink, and cast dice. Not long ago, it was a different sort of game.

Rowena: Demand from your soldiers. From me, you can only ask.

Kai: I always heard they could run like the wind in Cornwall. Now it’s proven.

Arthur: What better way to strengthen our alliance, than a great victory by a great king?


He ain’t heavy …

Kai seems very concerned about Arthur, after he falls from his horse.

Horse event (51) - Copy - Copy Horse event (53) - Copy - Copy


A wager’s a wager

Yorath and some other visiting chiefs are seen playing dice. Yorath says that, “if these dice are falling true, then there must be a curse on them!” He is definitely a betting man; Herrick knows that he is “laying odds on Trederne winning the wrestling.”


“That is bloody dangerous!”

As usual when Mark of Cornwall is involved, he has to throw a few extras around – or just drop them!

Intro (38) Intro (39).

The spectators at the shot putt look like they are wishing they had taken out some insurance.

Shot


“Night-night, Kiddies!”

Two bits of innuendo just about qualify for this category: Barth asking Rowena, “Do you think your little dagger a match for his sword?” and Llud trying to reassure Arthur with, “Perhaps it was only her quick tongue that managed to wheedle the information.”

During Trederne’s wrestling contest against Mark of Cornwall, Yorath appears to be telling Trederne, “Break his neck!”


Dressed to kill?

At the beginning of the episode, Arthur wears the purple cloak seen in “Rowena”, as well as the blue woolly shirt with the chevron trim – definitely one of his favourites.

Mark arrives (6) We should have bred (17)

For his scenes in the longhouse discussing business with Kai and Llud, and on the bridge with Rowena, he changes his cloak for the sheepskin coat he used as a Saxon “disguise” in “The Prize.”

Rowena (3) Costume A (3)

For his riding skills event, he strips down to a cheesecloth shirt with ivy-leaf trim on the collar.

Horse event (37) - Copy - Copy

For Kai’s longhouse scenes, he wears the shaggy white coat, with a new purple tunic with fawn trim, and a wide waistband. When the Games get under way, Kai swans around the arena in his big-sleeved jacket, with a barely-laced-up jerkin underneath. He sheds the jacket for the foot race.

Discussion (5) Pig wrestling (4)

Llud once more wears his new green shirt from "Six Measures of Silver", and the tunic first seen worn by Morcant in “Enemies and Lovers”.

Mark arrives (33) Arrival at Athel's (37)

For most of the episode, Mark wears the tunic with studs all over it, with a vest underneath, to cushion it. When Rowena comes to see him - possibly to remind us that his status matches Arthur’s – he is wearing a rather nice purple cloak ...

Intro (19) Can't fool Mark (6)

... but the vest underneath is revolting!

Can't fool Mark (49)

Rowena starts the episode in a blue tunic, but soon puts on a maroon dress and white woolly cloak.

Rowena complains (54) The spy (10)

Barth’s outfit is quite nice!


Extra! Extra!”

It must have been hard for this villager to decide which part of his job was the worst - being thrown around by Mark of Cornwall …

Intro (31) Intro (38)

… or having to rub him down between bouts!

Wrestling (15)


“A man on a horse is worth ten on foot”

Mark rides in on the grey horse, Pinkie, Herrick on Pythagoras, and Barth on Blondie; Flame and Merlin are also ridden by members of his party. Rowena arrives on her usual horse, Blackstar, Trederne on Outlander. Yorath rides a new bay horse with a star shaped like an inverted “Y”.

Mark arrives (31) Yorath arrives (23)

Fenred complains that he had to threaten Yorath with an army, to get back a stallion he had loaned him, to breed with one of Yorath’s mares. Fenred’s stallion must have been pretty special for one of the Jutes – supposedly famed as horse-breeders - to want to borrow it!

Rowena tells Barth she “can ride as well as anyone.” Again, as a Jute, she should have been a capable horsewoman, but according to Oliver Tobias, Gila von Weitershausen – who played her - was not a very confident rider.

In the equestrian skills contest, the first contestant rides Flame, so he is presumably part of the Cornish contingent. When picking up the scarf, he leans over to his left – Arthur, who comes next, leans to his right.

Horse event (4) Horse event (15)

While filming “Romance of a Horse Thief” in Yugoslavia a year or two previously, Oliver had learned a lot of equestrian tricks – such as picking things up from the ground at a gallop - from the Cossacks. Though he must have been confident he could perform the stunt, his decision to ride Blackstar, rather than either of his usual - taller - horses (Bernie and Skyline), must have made it easier.

When Blackstar is spooked by a flapping cloak, Arthur appears to fall off, but actually, Oliver performs a skilful dismount at speed.

Horse event (24) - Copy - Copy Horse event (25) - Copy - Copy


“My word is my bond”

Arthur asks Mark and his men to spend the night as his “honoured guests” – an invitation which comes with the tacit promise to treat them well, and keep them safe. His premeditated attack on them while they are under his roof is tantamount to breaking his word.


Honourable mention

This goes to the chap in the first picture, anxiously clutching a cloak. He isn’t too concerned about the result of the race.

Concerned pal (1e) Concerned pal (1c)

What troubles him, is that his friend is foolishly running around without a shirt on, in November!

Concerned pal (3) Concerned pal (6)

As soon as the crazy chap – who must be from the north – finishes the race, his friend rushes forward to wrap a cloak around him!

Concerned pal (7) Concerned pal (8b)


What’s going on here?

Holding big events can be expensive, especially with no sponsorship!  Perhaps, after the cameras stopped rolling in “The Prize”, Arthur and his comrades succeeded in stealing the Hoxel’s plunder, and Arthur used his share of the proceeds to fund this extravagant celebration.

Herrick complains that, “There will be eating, I hear. Feasting and drinking, beside the gaming and the sport.” But surely he doesn’t expect everyone to do all that running around on an empty stomach? They will have come from far and wide – they have to be fed!

The way Mark goes to meet Yorath and the Jutish party when they arrive in Arthur’s village, as if he were the host, is extremely arrogant. As for his greeting - “There … big fat Yorath himself!” - how does he get away with it?

When Kai overhears Mark and Herrick discussing their plot, he is not deliberately eavesdropping – just sitting in a little hut, when they happen past. What is he doing in there? Is it the latrine?

And when Kai tells his friends what he heard, why are they so sceptical? Apart from his concealment of Roland in “The Prisoner”, he has always been reliable. Yet Llud prefaces his reaction with, “If what Kai says is true” - as if Kai often lies.

Arthur then says he would dismiss what Kai has told him, but for the twitching of Llud’s nose.  The hot-headed Kai we saw in earlier episodes might have – understandably - taken offence!

When Arthur gets Rowena to spy for them, they don’t find out much new information.  She just confirms what Kai said - that they will be provoked - and discovers the reasoning behind it.

Arthur wonders what Herrick stands to gain from creating conflict. Kai’s explanation - “he bears no love for you” - implies there has been some interaction in the past, which hasn’t turned out well for Herrick.

But a personal grudge seems a petty reason to try to destroy the Celtic and Jutish alliance against the Saxons. Perhaps there’s more to it than that. Herrick’s determination to get the job done makes one wonder whether he is being paid by Cerdig, to spread mistrust within the alliance.

When Barth spots Rowena standing by the river, he says, “I trust I am not the cause of your unhappy face.” What does he think he has done to offend her?

This villager, measuring the length of a jump, seems to have discovered electricity.

Spark 1 Spark 2

As the runners turn back at the end of the first lap of the foot race, Barth sticks a leg out, and trips Kai.

Kai's dive (7) Kai's dive (8)

But he way Kai throws himself over Barth’s outstretched leg, is a diving performance worthy of a premier league footballer!

Kai's dive (11) Kai's dive (9)

It seems very unlike Mark of Cornwall not to react to Kai’s, “I always heard they could run like the wind in Cornwall.” Perhaps the insult was too subtle for him!

In the equestrian skills contest, Arthur rides Rowena’s horse, so presumably even after his appalling treatment of her, she is still talking to him!

Horse event (37) - Copy - Copy Horse event (38) - Copy - Copy

When Arthur, referring to his startled horse, says, “Fool beast that he is”, he looks pointedly at Mark!

The chap who waves a cloak in front of Arthur’s horse has fastened it using a suspiciously large and showy clasp; could this be a reward for his sabotage of Arthur’s event?

Horse event (34) - Copy - Copy

As far as his failure to win the sled-hauling race goes, Llud has little to complain about.

Sled pull (5a) Sled pull (5c)

He isn’t even in the lead when he collides with Mark’s man, and it appears to be Llud who plays foul, deliberately crossing into the other man’s line!

Sled pull (5d) Sled pull (5f)

Sled pull (5g) Sled pull (5h)

And why is there is no sign of a prize for any of the winners?


Music

Some of the music tracks used in this episode were:

Track 22, Revelry: Mark practices his wrestling.
Track 6, Infiltration and Treachery: Herrick’s counsel.
Track 24, Carousal: Mark boasts, Yorath arrives.
Track 20, The Fair Rowena: Arthur and Rowena meet on the bridge.
Track 6, Infiltration and Treachery: Yorath persuades Rowena; Rowena talks to Mark.
Track 22, Revelry: Catching piglets, shot putt.
Track 6, Infiltration and Treachery: Kai congratulates Barth.
Track 8, Kai the Saxon/Skirmish and Rout: equestrian skills contest.
Track 13, In All Weathers: Mark is annoyed by Arthur’s reaction; Llud’s sled-pull.
Track 16, Danger Mounts: the wrestling begins.
Track3, Celtic Horns/The Longships: Mark claims victory.

The whole suite of music, beautifully written and orchestrated for the series by Paul Lewis, is now available on CD.


Cast

Arthur …………….... Oliver Tobias
Kai ……………….… Michael Gothard
Llud ………………... Jack Watson
Yorath ………............ Georg Marischka
Rowena ……….......... Gila von Weitershausen
Mark ………………... Brian Blessed
Herrick …………....... Drew Henley
Barth ……………….. Christopher Mitchell
Erwith ………….…... Rollo Gamble
Fenred ……….…....... Ray Edwards
Old Man …………..... Sidney Johnson
Celt ………………… Terence Woodfield
Trederne ……............. uncredited – possibly “Jumping” Jim Hussey

Crew

Director ………….…. Sidney Hayers
Writer ……………….. David Osborn
Executive Producer …. Patrick Dromgoole
Producer ……………. Peter Miller
Associate Producer …. John Peverall
Production Manager … Keith Evans
Post-production ……... Barry Peters
Fight Arranger ……… Peter Brayham
Cameraman ………… Graham Edgar
Camera Operator …… Roger Pearce
Editor ……………….. Alex Kirby
Sound recordist …….. Gordon Kethro
Art Director ………… Doug James
Assistant Director ….. Stuart Freeman
Production Assistant .. Maggie Hayes
Set Dresser …………. Ken Bridgeman
Costume Design .…… Audrey MacLeod
Make-up ……………. Christine Penwarden
Incidental music …….. Paul Lewis
Theme music ………... Elmer Bernstein

1 The father of Mark “Rollerball” Rocco.

The others were “Some Saxon Women”, and “The Wood People.”

3 A stunt often included in displays of horsemanship performed in Asia.
Episode 2.10: The Games

Writer: David Osborne


OPENING SCENE


Mark of Cornwall’s village. Mark wrestles a villager, and throws him to the ground, twice, in quick succession. While another opponent is limbering up, Mark goes to get a drink. Herrick comes to stand at Mark’s shoulder.

Herrick: There will be eating, I hear. Feasting and drinking, beside the gaming and the sport.

Mark: Well, perhaps Arthur thinks Mark and his Cornishmen prefer meat and ale, to going home champions!

He puts down his beaker, slaps Herrick on the back, approaches his next opponent, and claps his hands in invitation.

Mark: Come!

They wrestle. Herrick approaches.

Herrick: It isn’t only your athletes he’s out to beat, you know. It’s you. Hold games, invite the chieftains and kings to celebrate his special alliance.

Mark grunts, and heaves his opponent onto his shoulders.

Herrick: And then, with all his new Celtic alliances sealed – what of you?

Mark pauses, then drops the man to the ground.

Mark: What of me, Herrick?

Herrick: Haa, you will win your wrestling match when Arthur’s Games convene. But what will you lose?

Mark: You, I suspect, are about to tell me.

Mark sits on a bench, and dries his hands with a cloth. Herrick puts one foot on the bench, and leans close to Mark.

Herrick: Who is the most powerful king in The West?

Mark looks up enquiringly.

Herrick: You.

Mark: Yeah.

Herrick: But let there be an alliance sealed between all the other chiefs and kings, and they together, will be stronger than you.

Mark: You forget – I am part of that alliance.

Herrick: If you behave yourself, and do not cross Arthur.

Mark hands Herrick a drink.

Herrick: Argue with him, and break away, and you will find yourself facing a far greater army than you can raise - with Arthur at its head.

Mark: [thoughtfully] The alliance is, in itself, a good thing - you’d agree, Herrick? To join forces against our common enemy the Saxons must be a sensible plan. But perhaps we are not quite ready for it – just yet.

They grin conspiratorially, and clink their mugs together.

[OPENING CREDITS]


PART 1

Read more... )
Plot

Rolf the Penitent has arrived at Mark of Cornwall’s village, preaching love and peace. When Mark hits him, he persuades the villagers of his sincerity by offering his other cheek, and they throw down their weapons. Mark goes to Arthur for help.

Arthur doesn’t see why Mark’s problem is any of his concern, but when one of Arthur's lieutenants asks for permission for some of the men to go and hear Rolf preaching, he decides to come up with a plan.

Mark returns to his village, and pretends he has come round to Rolf’s way of thinking. But to Rolf’s chagrin, he takes the message of non-violence to its logical conclusion, and declares that no more animals shall be killed in Cornwall, and therefore no more meat can be eaten.

As Arthur and Kai ride toward Mark’s village, Kai checks that he’s heard right - he has Arthur’s permission to “be as free as he likes” with the girls of Mark’s village.

Meanwhile, Mark’s people are complaining bitterly about dining on herb stew. The women blame Rolf, but he assures the men that their wives and daughters will come round to their way of thinking.

Then Arthur and Kai ride into the village, bringing a dead boar; Arthur tells one of the women, Maeven, to cook it for them. Kai sends her friend Gladwen to help her.

When Mark shows Arthur the hut where Rolf has taken up residence, Arthur commandeers it, and Kai throws Rolf’s bedding out. Mark pretends he’s going to break their heads, but Rolf stops him.

Later, the men of the village sit gloomily eating herb stew, while their womenfolk sprawl around Arthur and Kai, noisily enjoying flirtation and roast boar. Arthur and Kai try to provoke the women’s husbands into picking a fight, but Rolf persuades the men to ignore them.

Rolf asks Arthur why he is trying to destroy his work. Arthur explains that if Rolf succeeds, their villages will fall to their enemies.

While Rolf sits apart, meditating, Mark, worried by news that a Saxon force is approaching his territory, surreptitiously starts a brawl between the men, in an attempt to get his men to take up arms again. He keeps it going, with a trip here, and a push there, until Rolf notices what’s going on, and wades in to put a stop to it.

Next morning, the men and women of the village are back together, still complaining about the herb stew. Arthur thinks they will soon give up their peaceful lifestyle, but then Rolf arrives, with supplies, including a dead boar.

The villagers happily start preparing the food.  Mark and Arthur question Rolf’s sincerity, but he tells them that he got everything by non-violent means - the people in the neighbouring village recognised him, and fled, leaving the supplies behind, and the boar died when it fell into a ravine.

Arthur says they must wait until Rolf again runs out of meat, but Mark wants to kill him. When Arthur vetoes this plan, Mark produces Lendor, a villager from a nearby hamlet, who accuses Rolf of taking the boar by force. Feigning anger at Rolf’s hypocrisy, Mark demands that he defend himself, and raises his sword to strike at him.

Arthur intervenes, then he and Mark stage a convincing fight, with Arthur losing. Finally, Rolf comes to Arthur’s defence, eventually knocking Mark out cold.

Mark’s people, and Rolf himself, are shocked to see Mark lying unconscious, possibly dead. As Rolf cradles Mark’s head, Arthur tells the watching crowd that Rolf’s message of peace is essentially correct, but one can only give up violence when everyone else does the same.

Next morning, as Rolf leaves Mark’s village, Mark, evidently recovered, catches up with him, and asks Rolf who started the thing about turning the other cheek. Rolf is delighted to talk about Jesus.

Finally, after the expected skirmish between Mark’s men and the Saxon force, a lone Saxon survivor runs from cover. Mark catches him, but rather than killing him, just knocks him into the river, and warns him not to come back. Mark then chases after his astonished men, and administers a mighty kick in the breeches to each and every one of them.


Timeline

This episode includes two references to “The Penitent Invader”, so it should clearly be placed later in the timeline. But how much later?

In the UK, “Rolf the Preacher” was shown eighth, as part of Series 1, but on the German “Konig Arthur” DVDs, it is fifteenth, appearing after “Rowena”, “Some Saxon Women”, “The Prisoner” and “The Duel.”

That takes iron (4) That takes iron (29)

Other considerations, including vegetation, and the obviously cooler mornings, suggest that this episode was filmed after all of those episodes, and also after "The Marriage Feast", "The Prize", and possibly, "Six Measures of Silver."  One reason for showing it earlier might be the nature of the plot, which involves some of the protagonists provoking others, to get the result they want.  "The Marriage Feast", and "The Games", also rely on this plot device, so it may have been thought best not to show all three too close together.

Also, HTV may have wanted the viewers to remember Rolf from his previous appearance, in "The Penitent Invader."  If "Rolf the Preacher" had been shown a year later, as part of Series 2, that would have been less likely.

The fact that Llud does not appear in “Rolf the Preacher”, and that Arthur and Kai make only a token appearance in “Six Measures of Silver”, suggests that HTV may have been working on the two episodes concurrently.  When Arthur and Kai do appear, they are wearing most of the same clothes as in “Rolf the Preacher”, so that scene, at least, was probably filmed at around the same time.

No Reproaches (5) Rolf brings food (26) Llud tells a tale (6) Llud tells a tale (30)


Suggested shooting order so far

Arthur is Dead
Daughter of the King
The Challenge
The Gift of Life
Enemies and Lovers
In Common Cause
The Penitent Invader
The Slaves
People of the Plough
Go Warily
The Prisoner
The Duel
Rowena
Some Saxon Women
The Marriage Feast
The Prize
Six Measures of Silver/Rolf the Preacher


Locations

As in "The Marriage Feast", most of the action takes place in Mark of Cornwall’s village, still set in the village at Woollard.  The north side of the location, where much of the action is concentrated, is much more enclosed than it was earlier in the series. Below, you can see the two huts to the north east of the site, first filmed in "The Gift of Life." Back then, they were in the open; now they are within the palisade.

Welcome (23) Rolf brings food (3)

The circular shelter, which, a couple of weeks ago, served as Mark of Cornwall's marriage bower, has lost much of its former glory; perhaps Mark took out his rage upon it later!

The Fight (7) Rolf brings food (6)


Inside Information

Mark of Cornwall argues convincingly against eating meat. “Even the least of life’s creatures shall be safe … No more cattle shall be slain. The boar shall be safe from the spear … No more feasting on the fruits of violence! … No more meat shall be eaten. There shall be peace in life for all living things! … Is the bull strong? And does the bull kill to eat? Is the horse strong? It can carry a man for fifty leagues. And does the horse eat its fellow creatures?”

This was probably spoken from the heart; Brian Blessed, who is involved in animal rescue, is now reported to be a vegetarian, though he was seen eating meat earlier in this series.

In an interview, Brian remembered director Sid Hayers offering one of the extras fifty quid, to let Brian throw him in the river. The extra – a student – agreed. When Brian threw him in, his furs and sheepskins instantly became waterlogged, and he sunk like a stone, and had to be rescued!   This incident probably occurred during the filming of the final scene in "Rolf the Preacher.

Turn the other cheek (24) "


Cast notes

Patti Love, who gave an unrestrained performance as the rambunctious Gladwen, went on to show that building up your part isn’t necessarily a bad career move!  In 1978 she played a leading role, as Boudicca’s daughter Tasca, in “Warrior Queen” – once again working with Michael Gothard, who played the Druid priest, Volthan. She appears to have had a long and successful career, as has Meg Davies, who played Maeven.

Opposing camps (7) Arriving at Mark's (36)

One of the last screen appearances by Robert Tayman (Maeven’s husband - in the brown checked tunic), was an un-credited role in “The Stud” – which starred Oliver Tobias. Mr Tayman now mainly works in theatre, and has given workshops on Shakespeare and Stanislavsky in the USA and Eastern Europe, under the name “Robert Taylor Tayman.”

This is the third episode from which Jack Watson’s character, Llud, is absent,1  perhaps working with another crew, and Gila von Weitershausen, on "Six Measures of Silver."


"By the Gods!"

This episode looks again at the question raised in “People of the Plough”; is it ever right to use violence?

In “People of the Plough”, it was just one man - Rulf, a Saxon - who refused to fight, even to defend himself, because in a rage, he had killed his brother.  In “Rolf the Preacher”, all of Mark of Cornwall’s men lay down their arms, because Rolf has persuaded them to take the path of peace. It is up to Arthur and Mark to try to dissuade them from leaving their lands open to invasion.

Rolf argues that, “The Lord showed me that he who strikes his fellow man is no better than a ravening wolf.” In fact, his transformation from wolf to peacenik was brought about by Arthur.  In “The Penitent Invader”, Arthur tricked Rolf into a battle with the Picts, in which Rolf lost his brother, and many of his friends.

Mark’s philosophy – if such it can be called – is that, “The world is a battlefield”, and “No man can return love for hate.”  But when Rolf leads by example, turning the other cheek, even when Mark knocks him to the ground, Mark’s men choose Rolf’s way.

Whether Arthur considers himself a Christian is unclear, but he has a working knowledge of the Bible, misquoting Genesis 4.9 when he says of Rolf, “I’m not his keeper”, and telling Mark that, for his plan to work, “First, like John the Baptist, you must pave the way.”  This does rather imply that Arthur thinks of himself as the Messiah!

Mark returns to his village, a picture of contrition, saying he has been “in the wilderness”, and Rolf accepts him into the fold, quoting Luke 15.7: “there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. But he is less than happy when Mark interprets his message of peace as a call to end all violence, and embrace vegetarianism.

As so often, Rolf lets his earthly desires rule him.  In an effort to deter Mark from this moral choice, he claims that “the holy word does say ‘moderation in all things’”. However, others attribute that particular sentiment to Aristotle, and according to one source, “there is no direct quotation matching the proverb”.

During Rolf’s final confrontation with Mark, he claims that, “If you want to learn about Christianity, you must try the other side too. Now I give, and you take.”  This does not seem to appear anywhere in the Bible!

Still, the Christian message isn’t completely lost on Mark. As Rolf leaves, presumably to take his teachings elsewhere, he is surprised and pleased when Mark catches up with him, and asks about his beliefs. “That thing – about turning the other cheek – it takes a lot of iron. Who started it?”

And at the end of the episode, Mark, having killed all but one of the attacking Saxons, lets the last one go, with the message that, “next time, I won’t turn the other cheek!” This is an improvement on his behaviour in “The Prisoner”, when he wanted to have Roland stoned to death, but on this occasion, he hadn’t lost a single man in the battle, so perhaps that helps account for his charitable attitude.


Dark Age Men

“I just want to get it quite clear. For once I can be as free as I like with the girls of the village, and there’ll be no reproaches?”

“Not from me.”

Arthur and Kai ride into the village like outlaws in a western film, whooping and hollering, then try to use the women as leverage, to make their menfolk take up arms again. 

Arthur speaks to Maeven as if she were his personal servant: “Hey, Woman! Get that over a fire. We’re hungry!” “Come on, Woman – don’t stand about”, and slaps her bottom with his sword. Kai treats Gladwen in much the same way. When their husbands object, Arthur and Kai threaten them, with sword and axe.

Maeven and Gladwen are quite happy to do the bidding of the newcomers, who seem like more fun than their husbands. Having lured all the women away, Arthur tries to provoke the men further, by telling Rolf, “you’re a magician – you can turn men into milkmaids!”


The best laid plans …

Arthur’s plan to taunt Mark’s men into violence fails dismally. Rolf manages to convince the men that Arthur and Kai’s interest in their wives is not serious, and after a day of mild debauchery, the women rejoin their husbands. When they are all heartily sick of the sight of herb stew, Rolf contrives to obtain meat without actually doing the killing himself.

In the end, just as Rolf’s apparent sincerity convinced them to throw down their swords, Mark’s exposure of Rolf’s inability to stick to his pledge of non-violence eventually makes them lose their faith, in time to defend themselves against the Saxons.


Arthur’s wisdom

As soon as Arthur hears his own men ask to hear Rolf preach, he see the threat. But he is torn. He would love to be able to live in peace. At the end of, “In Common Cause”, he offered Cerdig a truce, based on respect of a common border, though he had little hope that the Saxon leader would respect such an agreement.  In “Some Saxon Women”, he managed to maintain his peace treaty with Yorath, though it was stretched almost to breaking point.

When Mark’s people abandon Rolf’s teachings, Arthur admits, “Rolf is right. Violence is evil. And if everyone thought like Rolf, the world would be a better place. But everyone doesn’t think like Rolf, and until they do, we must defend ourselves, and our kin, as Rolf defended me just now. If we do not, others will come and take our land. We will perish, and any good that we might bring into this world will perish with us.”

As the villagers are already convinced, there is no real need for him to make this concession, but it does two things: it makes him seem gracious in victory, and it avoids making an enemy of Rolf, who may have lost this round, but could still prove a dangerous enemy in future.


“Night-night, Kiddies!”

Yet again, we have an episode with quite an adult tone.  Rolf admits, “I was a killer. I raped, and I plundered.” Younger viewers may have wondered what on earth Gladwen was up to!

Opposing camps (11) Opposing camps (15)

When Kai tells Maeven “If your husband won’t look after you, someone else must!” he is clearly referring to more than just feeding her, as he grabs her and kisses her on the mouth. She then says, “My husband’s watching”: a line that could have come from a soft porn film.

Emerging from the giggling pile of admiring women, Arthur asks Gladwen whether she’s worried about her husband; she lewdly replies, “Well, he’s not going to be much good to me on herb soup!” and Arthur and Kai’s groupies tumble in an unruly heap.

Kai’s offer of “more meat, Ladies!” is the icing on the cake!


The hot-headed side-kick

Both Arthur and Kai spend much of the episode behaving badly, in a good cause, and seem to enjoy it. But Kai doesn’t forget that there is a serious purpose behind their shenanigans. The minute he sees Rolf with his hand on a sword, Kai begins to draw his own, ready to back Arthur up.

Opposing camps (38) Opposing camps (52)

When Mark is kicking Arthur around, Rolf’s first thought is, “Where’s Kai?”  Only when he hears that Kai is on sentry duty, does Rolf decide he will have to step in.


Great moments

When Rolf offers Mark his other cheek, Mark, looks as if he has just seen his granny enjoying congress with a goat.

Intro (71)

Mark, immediately following up his declaration that “There shall be peace in life for all living things!” by kicking one of his men up the arse.

No more meat (41)

Arthur and Kai careering into town like bandits riding into Deadwood, Kai, throwing out Rolf’s bedding, and Mark, slyly starting a fight.

That's my hut (26) Mark starts a fight (28)

Arthur, seemingly starting to enjoy this battle of wits with Rolf.

Rolf brings food (37) Rolf brings food (43)

Arthur, rather pretentiously saying Rolf will “be even stronger in death than in life”, and Mark’s more realistic “They’ll forget him before he’s cold!”

And the smile that lights up Rolf's face, when Mark asks to be told about Jesus!


Celts and Saxons

The Saxons are but an abstract threat for much of the episode, and when they do finally put in a sheepskin-clad appearance, Mark’s men easily defeat them.


Quote/unquote

Rolf: Believe me Friends, when hate is banished, life is sweet.

Rolf: Man is made strong by strong heart; not by the sword.

Mark: No man can return love for hate! The world is a battlefield.

Mark: He shall live from the things that the gods provide; the things that grow in the earth.

Mark: Even the least of life’s creatures shall be safe.

Mark: No more feasting on the fruits of violence!

Mark: No more meat shall be eaten. There shall be peace in life for all living things!

Mark: Is the bull strong? And does the bull kill to eat? Is the horse strong? It can carry a man for fifty leagues. And does the horse eat its fellow creatures?

Rolf: There can be no half-measures in the way of peace.

Rolf: No! What’s the comfort of a bed, compared to the great work?

Arthur: Holy men can sleep anywhere.

Rolf: Good cannot be defended by evil.

Rolf: Peace is not easy. It must be worked for.

Kai: Some more meat, Ladies!

Mark: No one makes a fool of Mark of Cornwall!


"That is bloody dangerous!"

There are a great many fights in this episode.

Mark hits Rolf.

Intro (56) Intro (58)

Mark starts a general brawl.

Mark starts a fight (27) Mark starts a fight (31)

Mark is about to hit Rolf again, but Arthur intervenes.

Mark starts another fight (39) Arthur and Mark fight (1)

Arthur and Mark fight (11) Arthur and Mark fight (22)

Oliver Tobias wore a lot of padding, so that Brian Blessed could give him a really good kicking!

Padding 2 Padding

Mark hits Rolf again.

Rolf defends Arthur (8) Rolf defends Arthur (10)

Rolf retaliates; but where did he learn all the fancy martial arts moves?

Rolf defends Arthur (29) Rolf defends Arthur (34)

Rolf defends Arthur (52) Rolf defends Arthur (53)

Rolf defends Arthur (71) Rolf defends Arthur (72)

Finally, the extras bear the brunt of Mark's fury – one being thrown in the river, and probably receiving extra pay to compensate, while the others receive the caring treatment they’ve come to expect from Mark of Cornwall.

Turn the other cheek (24) Turn the other cheek (36)


Dressed to kill?

Mark of Cornwall wears the tunic with studs all over it, seen previously in “The Prisoner.” Rolf is clad in his usual priestly garb, including purple leggings.

At the beginning of the episode, Arthur wears a cream cheesecloth shirt with an embroidered collar, and the very roughly made suede jacket, seen in “In Common Cause.” For his visit to Mark of Cornwall’s village, he adds the big fur robe from King Athel’s throne! He also wears a cowl.

No Reproaches (6) Opposing camps (28)

Like John the Baptist (8) Opposing camps (57)

Kai starts off wearing a brown woolly cardigan, with a Celtic design on the trimming. For the journey, he dons a new mustard coloured tunic, with huge furry sleeves, and his big fur-trimmed cloak. The sleeves look very similar to the ones this Saxon is wearing in “Rowena.” Perhaps Kai is wearing the whole jacket under the tunic.

Saxon Silver (50)


“A man on a horse is worth ten on foot”

Once again, we see Kai emulate Arthur’s showy dismount – leg flung over the horse’s neck and a slide down. But Arthur dismounts on the horse's off-side, presumably because of the camera angles.

Arriving at Mark's (41) Arriving at Mark's (28)

Mark of Cornwall rides Pinkie, Arthur rides Bernie, and Kai rides Moonlight. When Rolf arrives with stolen booty, he is leading Outlander, but when he leaves Mark’s village, he is leading Flame.


On the table

During the scene when Mark returns to his village, the meat on the spit undergoes a couple of … ahem … incarnations ...   Before he arrives, there is almost a whole pig roasting. By the time Mark comes to throw it in the fire, is seems to have turned into a chicken.

No more meat (1) No more meat (27)

Perhaps it got damaged while filming a number of re-takes of the scene where Mark pitches the spit into the fire - or perhaps the cast just got hungry! Probably all that herb stew …

Kai is hungry too; he steals an apple from one of the villagers.

No more meat (34) Arriving at Mark's (59)


Honourable mention

Clive Revill and Brian Blessed, for their - as usual - splendidly OTT performances.


What’s going on here?

What is Rolf doing in Mark's village in the first place? Has he just turned up late, intending to officiate at Mark's wedding to Rowena?

And why doesn’t Mark just boot him out? Perhaps, having lost face last week by losing his bride and her lands, he is worried that his men will turn against him. But would they dare?

Mark mistakenly blames Llud for Rolf’s conversion to Christianity. “Now he must put him back the way he was before.”  But Llud isn’t even a Christian. It was Arthur’s trick, which resulted in the death of Rolf's brother, that led Rolf to reject violence.

Rolf blames himself, saying his brother “was slain when I involved him in a battle with the Picts.” He seems to hold no grudge against Arthur for this; perhaps even now, Rolf doesn’t realise that Arthur engineered that particular battle.

Before they arrive at Mark's village, Kai's question: "For once I can be as free as I like with the girls of the village, and there’ll be no reproaches?" seems a bit odd. Kai doesn't usually wait for Arthur's permission to be free with the girls of any village!  But perhaps Arthur decided to lay some ground rules, after the trouble they had with Goda.

Or perhaps he just thinks Kai has terrible taste! The first woman Kai decides to give a smacker on the mouth, and call "My Pretty" - a wench called Gladwen - appears to be the unofficial village idiot.

Arriving at Mark's (48)

Rolf’s sword is pretty weak if Arthur can break it over his knee.

Opposing camps (62)

And would it be cynical to suggest that the rather threadbare boar Rolf brings in to satisfy his flock, is the same one Arthur brought in earlier?

Arriving at Mark's (56) Rolf brings food (10)


Music

Some of the music tracks used in this episode were:

Track 15, At Dead of Night: Mark paves the way.
Track 20, The Fair Rowena: ladling herb stew.
Track 23, Arrival of Arthur: Arthur and Kai ride into town.
Track 32, Children’s Games: Kai meets Gladwen.
Track 22, Revelry: Arthur and Kai lure the women away.
Track 15, At Dead of Night: Rolf confronts Arthur.
Track 10, Battle on Horseback: Mark starts a fight.
Track 17, Pensive moment: peace is restored.
Track 15, At Dead of Night: Rolf and Arthur talk.
Track 16, Danger Mounts: Rolf attacks Mark.
Track 3, Celtic Horns/The Longships: Arthur speaks in Rolf’s defence.
Track 13, In All Weathers: Mark asks Rolf about his beliefs.
Track 16, Danger Mounts: after the Saxon attack.

The whole suite of music, beautifully written and orchestrated for the series by Paul Lewis, is now available on CD.


Cast

Arthur …………….... Oliver Tobias
Kai ……………….… Michael Gothard
Rolf ……………….... Clive Revill
Mark of Cornwall ….. Brian Blessed
Maeven …………….. Meg Davies
Gladwen ….…........... Patti Love
First man …………… Robert Tayman
Second man ……….... Keith Varnier
Lendor ……................ Hugh Smith-Marriot

Crew

Director ………….….. Sidney Hayers
Story ………………... Terence Feely
Executive Producer …. Patrick Dromgoole
Producer …………….. Peter Miller
Associate Producer …. John Peverall
Production Manager … Keith Evans
Post-production ……... Barry Peters
Fight Arranger ……… Peter Brayham
Cameraman …………. Bob Edwards
Camera Operator ……. Brian Morgan
Editor ……………….. Don Llewellyn
Sound recordist ……... Mike Davey
Dubbing mixer ……… John Cross
Art Director …………. Doug James
Assistant Director …… Keith Knott
Production Assistant … Maggie Hayes
Costume Design .……. Audrey MacLeod
Make-up …………….. Christine Penwarden
Incidental music …….. Paul Lewis
Theme music ………... Elmer Bernstein


1 The other two are, “The Gift of Life” and “People of the Plough.”
Episode 1.8: Rolf the Preacher

Writer: Terence Feely


OPENING SCENE


In Mark’s village in Cornwall. Rolf is on his knees, in the middle of a circle of men – including Mark of Cornwall.

Rolf: Yes … The Lord showed me that he who strikes his fellow man is no better than a ravening wolf. And he who lives by violence is already dead in his heart. [He snatches someone’s sword] What did the sword ever bring you but pain and death?

He starts to chant, and everyone except Mark joins in.

Rolf and Villagers: Pain and death, pain and death, pain and death.

Rolf: And what is peace, but life and sweetness?

Villagers join in again.

Rolf and Villagers: Life and sweetness, life and sweetness.

Rolf holds up the villager’s sword.

Rolf: The day the first sword was forged on earth – that day there was weeping in heaven.

Mark looks dubious.

First villager: Shame!

Rolf: I was a killer. I raped, and I plundered. But I was not a happy man. Then the Lord opened my eyes, and took the sword from my hand, and I found peace. Has the sword given you happiness?

Villagers: No!

Rolf: Has the sword given you plenty?

Villagers: No!

Rolf: Do you want to renounce the sword?

Villagers: Yes!

Rolf: [yells] Then cast it out!

Rolf drives the villager’s sword into the ground, grabs one from another villager, and does the same with that one. All the other men, except for Mark, begin drawing their swords and throwing them to the ground, while Rolf continues his exhortations.

Rolf: Cast it out, cast it out!

Mark: Pick them up!

The few men who haven’t thrown their swords away keep hold of them. Mark grabs a villager by the scruff of the neck, and throws him to the ground in the pile of swords.

Mark: I say! What are you? [Mark grabs another man by his shirtfront and gives him a shove] Warriors or bloodless priests? This fool – he’s moonstruck! [Mark takes Rolf’s place in the centre of the circle and addresses them all] Are you going to let him talk you out of your manhood?

Rolf: Man is made strong by strong heart – not by the sword. Cast out the poisoned blade!

Some start to draw their swords, then sheath them again as Mark starts to speak.

Mark: Even now, plunderers are massing against us. And they mean to take what is yours. How are you going to defend yourselves? On your knees?

Rolf: You will conquer them with peace! And friendship! They will come in hate – but they will leave in love. It will be a victory greater than the Celts have ever known.

Rolf crosses his arms over his chest in rapture.

Mark: Yaar, this man booms like an empty wineskin. No man can return love for hate! The world is a battlefield. [to Rolf] You say that violence is wrong.

Rolf: I do.

Mark: [nodding] And you would not defend yourself against an attack.

Rolf approaches Mark, and holds up his wooden cross.

Rolf: I would not.

Mark: [grins at the onlookers] You would not. Then show me what you’d do, if someone did this.

Mark takes Rolf’s cross, drops it, hits Rolf, back-handed, on the right side of his face, knocking him to the ground, then draws his own sword. Rolf gets slowly to his feet, hands raised, then strokes his left cheek, and offers it for Mark to hit.

Rolf: Now this one.

Mark gives him a look of puzzlement and disgust. All the villagers throw down their swords again.

[OPENING CREDITS]


PART 1

Read more... )
Plot

Llud arrives at a market, aiming to sell two horses. He chances upon Rowena, who has come to buy cattle for her father. Llud advises against buying the ones she is considering. Rowena asks Llud to help her choose.

Llud then spots Kurk, a friend from his younger days, whom he describes as, “the blackest rogue you’ll ever chance to meet!” Kurk is telling a – not wholly accurate - tale to a group of listeners. Llud disabuses them as to Kurk’s fighting prowess, and the two renew their friendship.

As they wander around the market, Kurk shows Llud two fine cattle, and leads him to believe that he is the owner. Llud then shows them to Rowena, and she bids against another man for them; Kurk accepts six measures of silver from her, even though the other buyer offers more.

As Llud and Rowena lead the cattle down a track, they are ambushed by a man claiming to be the real owner of the beasts. It turns out that Kurk had ambushed him, tied him up and stolen his cattle. Rowena is devastated to learn that she will have to give them back, but Llud pays the man six measures of silver, and leaves Rowena to take her cattle home.

Llud then sets off in pursuit of Kurk, catches up with him, and overpowers him. He is angry at having been used to trick Rowena, and demands that Kurk reimburse him for the price of the stolen cattle. But Kurk claims he needs the money to ransom his wife, Bron from a band of savage, cave-dwelling tribesmen, led by the merciless Berthold.

Llud agrees to pay Bron’s ransom, but decides to come along, to make sure Kurk gets his wife back. When they stop to rest along the way, Llud falls asleep, and Kurk tries to give him the slip, but fails in his attempt to steal Llud’s horse. Llud gives chase, manages to get ahead of Kurk, and ambushes him again.

Kurk claims he only ran off with the money because he was afraid Llud would change his mind about letting him have the silver. They continue on their journey.

When they get in sight of the caves where Bron is held prisoner, Llud insists that instead of paying the ransom, they raid the caves, and rescue Bron. Kurk reluctantly agrees.

They enter a cave, and sneak up on the guards, but Berthold’s people see what’s happening, chase Llud and Kurk, and bring them before their leader.

Llud is astonished to learn that Berthold, whom Kurk described as such an ogre, is Bron’s mild-mannered and long-suffering father, and that the ‘ransom’ Kurk claimed he had to pay was money he owed Berthold for everything he’d stolen from him.

Bron appears, delighted to see Kurk, but Berthold holds firm, demanding six measures of silver for her release.

Kurk begs Llud to pay Berthold the silver on his behalf, so that he and Bron can go off and start their life together. He swears to - one day - repay him.

Llud fetches a pouch, and tosses it onto the table in front of Berthold.

Bron falls to the floor in a faint; apparently, she is with child. When Kurk has taken her outside, on the pretext of getting some air, Berthold notices that the pouch Llud brought him has gone: stolen by Kurk. Llud then tosses another pouch – the one that actually contains the silver - onto the table in front of Berthold.

Kurk and Bron make their escape, laughing. Kurk is less than pleased to find that Llud has turned the tables on him; the pouch he stole contains only rocks and dirt.

As Llud rides home, he meets Kai and Arthur, and tells them a tall tale about how he lost the money he got for the horses he sold.


Timeline

"Six Measures of Silver" appears after "The Prize" on the "Konig Arthur" DVDs and in the "Konig Arthur" book. Seasonal cues also suggest this order.

The fact that Llud does not appear in “Rolf the Preacher”, and that Arthur and Kai make only a token appearance in “Six Measures of Silver”, suggests that HTV may have been working on the two episodes concurrently. When Arthur and Kai do appear, they are wearing most of the same clothes as in “Rolf the Preacher”, so that scene, at least, was probably filmed at around the same time.

No Reproaches (5) Rolf brings food (26)

Llud tells a tale (6) Llud tells a tale (30)

Suggested shooting order so far

Arthur is Dead
Daughter of the King
The Challenge
The Gift of Life
Enemies and Lovers
In Common Cause
The Penitent Invader
The Slaves
People of the Plough
Go Warily
The Prisoner
The Duel
Rowena
Some Saxon Women
The Marriage Feast
The Prize
Six Measures of Silver/Rolf the Preacher

Locations

There is no sign of the village at Woollard in this episode. The countryside scenes would presumably have been filmed nearby, somewhere in the Mendips.

The scene in Berthold’s caves was filmed in the Redcliffe Sand Mines in Bristol: artificial sandstone caverns, from which red sandstone was excavated to be converted to sand for the glass and pottery trades.


Inside Information

Two of the extras in the cave scene were Maria and her friend. Maria remembers that they were warned not to wander off, because there were so many tunnels, they might never find their way out. More of Maria’s memories can be found here.


Cast notes

David Brierley, who played Hurn (the cattle’s original owner) provided the voice of K9 in Dr Who in 1979 and 1980.

Ambush (53) Berthold's caves (59)

Folk singer Fred Wedlock makes his second appearance in the series, this time as Berthold’s minstrel. He can be heard playing in the background, just after Kurk and Bron are re-united.


“A blackguard – and a fool!”

Most of us have a friend who brings out the worst in us, and gets us into all sorts of trouble, but we love them just the same. For Llud, Kurk, played by Michael Craig, is that friend. Rowena notes that he has “great charm”, to which even Llud is not immune, despite dubbing him “the blackest rogue you’ll ever chance to meet.”

Kurk has no qualms about telling stories that bear little relation to the truth, to make himself seem a big hero, and make his friends look like cowards, poor fighters, and fools. He will steal from anyone - a monastery, and even his father-in-law.

Llud knows this, yet when Kurk declares himself “a completely reformed character”, Llud lets himself believe it. He doesn’t notice that on two important matters, Kurk, while not actually lying, fails to give him a straight answer:
Llud: Are you a breeder? Kurk: And why not?
Llud: These are yours? Kurk: Prime breeding pair. You want to buy them?

Llud then gives Kurk his tacit endorsement by introducing Rowena to him as a prospective buyer for “his” cattle. Rowena also falls under his spell, and assumes she is being complimented when he describes her as “enchanted”; in fact, he is simply noting her gullibility!

Rowena does wonder why Llud has changed his tune: “I thought you said that this Kurk is an outright villain, hnh?” but Llud – perhaps more in hope than expectation - says that Kurk “seems to have mended his ways.”

When he discovers his mistake, Llud angrily tells Kurk, “The only thing you ever bred was treachery!” Kurk doesn’t see why Llud is so cross; after all, he wasn’t the one cheated!

Kurk then tells more lies: that his wife Bron’s father was a wheelwright, who frowned on him because of their age difference, and "wanted to keep his beautiful daughter cooped up in a remote village”, and that this same wife is now being held hostage by savages led by the cruel and vicious Berthold, who will kill her if he doesn’t pay the ransom.

Llud can hardly believe that the man Kurk has portrayed as such an ogre, is Bron’s loving and long-suffering father, for whom the theft of his prize stallions – after all the other things Kurk has taken – proves the final straw.

Kurk looks embarrassed, but then claims that “It was true about him holding my wife hostage”!

Even after his previous lies have been made known, he has the nerve to carry on telling tall tales to Berthold’s people, and to try to steal back the money Llud has paid on his behalf!


Don’t call me old!

Though Kurk is a rogue, there’s no question that Llud enjoys his little adventure. He is glad to be able to help damsel in distress, Rowena.

He seems to relish his battle of wits with Kurk, taking precautions to stop his old friend from running off with his horse! He won’t let Kurk go into the caves alone to pay the ransom, presumably suspecting Kurk might leave his wife behind, and run off with the money!

He says that Kurk’s deviousness is catching, and gets a glint in his eye when contemplating a daring raid on the formidable and ruthless Berthold! “Would we have paid a ransom? Never, Kurk, never!”

He insists they are just as strong, and more cunning than ever: “we’ll have your wife out of there before they know what’s happened! Like the old days, eh, Kurk? I keep my money, and you’ll get your wife back. And we’ll show them that Llud and Kurk are still as good in a scrap as ever they were!”

Llud is still a sucker for a pretty face, offering to bale Kurk out for Bron’s sake, but he has the foresight to outwit Kurk by switching coin purses.

But he’s right about one thing: Kurk’s deviousness has rubbed off on him. He tries to explain the loss of the money he made on the horses to Kai and Arthur by saying he was ambushed by ten marauding Scots!


Dark Age Men

Llud is a bit puzzled to see Rowena on her own: “Is it the Jute custom to send their women to barter?” She tells him that Yorath trusts her judgement, but panics when it looks as if she has failed in her mission: “What do I tell my father? How do I explain that I’ve paid six measures of silver for cattle that I haven’t got?” Fortunately for her, Llud accepts responsibility, and gallantly spares her blushes.


Great moments

Llud and Kurk’s meeting.

Llud, trying to persuade Kurk to raid the caves.

Berthold’s revelations.

Kurk, being duped by Llud.

Llud’s failed attempt to dupe Arthur and Kai.


Quote/unquote

Llud [of Arthur]: As a leader there is no man better …

Llud [of/to Kurk]:
Once a rogue, always a rogue!
How did you come by a wife? Did you steal her, too?
Letting you go is more an act of folly than of mercy!


Family Ties

Llud tells Rowena that he and Kurk “were as brothers.”

Kurk shows an interest in Llud’s family: “that Saxon brat that you found abandoned, and decided to father” and “young Arthur, who would change the world.”

Llud proudly tells him than Kai is “a fine young warrior, strong, and courageous”, and that Arthur is also like his son, and “will be changing the world when you and I have turned to dust.”

But family ties clearly mean little to Kurk, as he is happy to steal from his wife’s father. When Berthold learns that Bron is with child, his reaction is “if it’s a boy, it’ll be brought up as a rogue, like its father!”


"By the Gods!"

Rowena is, for the first time, seen wearing a cross. Either Christianity is spreading, or Rowena is hoping to get into Arthur's good graces.

Ambush (59)

Kurk mentions a past exploit, when he pretended to be a priest looking after the lepers, and hid Llud in the monastery, and Llud reminds Kurk that he stole half the valuables from the altar.

Kurk says it does his soul good to see Llud, who retorts “Nothing ever did your soul any good!” They don’t mention which religion either of their souls belongs to.

Berthold is a pantheist of sorts, saying “Only the gods know” how lenient he’s been with Kurk, and later, of Bron’s unborn child, “By the gods, if it’s a boy, it’ll be brought up as a rogue, like its father!”

The title of the episode, “Six Measures of Silver”, may be an oblique reference to the thirty pieces of silver for which Judas is said to have betrayed Jesus.


“That is bloody dangerous!”

As Llud and Rowena pass beneath a branch, the cattle owner, who is clinging to it, drops from his perch, grabs Llud, and pulls him from his horse. This appears to have been performed by stuntmen.

An axe is thrown into a tree trunk near Llud’s head. Later on, Llud drags Kurk from his horse.

The most dangerous stunt is probably when the head one of Berthold’s guards is banged against the cave wall. The perils of being a 'redshirt'!


Dressed to kill?

Llud’s tatty old white undershirt has finally been replaced, by a new green garment, which he wears under his suede jerkin. Rowena has a new tunic.

Intro (12) Intro (14)


“A man on a horse is worth ten on foot”

As in previous episodes, Rowena’s horse is Blackstar.

Llud, for the first time, is seen riding a different horse, instead of his usual mount, Curly. Perhaps this was something to do with the filming being at a new location. Curly may not have travelled well, or perhaps Jack Watson found the new - smaller - horse, Brownie, easier to mount without the benefit of the mounting block which was usually available in the village.

This is also the horse Llud is seen riding in the opening credits, so presumably that sequence was put together some time after this episode was filmed.

Ambush (64) Kurk escapes (1)

The horses Llud brings for sale are the chestnut, Flame, and the reliable bay horse, Merlin.

Though no mention is made of Kurk having bought his horse from Llud, he is later seen riding Merlin, both alone, and with Bron. But then, it is Kurk’s theft of Berthold’s prize stallions that proved the final straw for Berthold. Perhaps Kurk stole Merlin as well!


On the table

The Sale (29) Berthold's caves (13)

Like Arthur, Llud does enjoy his apples. There’s a fairly substantial feast laid out for Berthold’s people.


Extra! Extra!

In the hut (54) extra

This poor fellow, who was killed by Kai in “The Gift of Life”, then again, in “In Common Cause”, seems to get off more lightly as Berthold’s guard; Llud probably just knocks him out.

Berthold's caves (8) Berthold's caves (10)

One Berthold’s men appears in Arthur’s rampage scene in "The Marriage Feast."

Berthold's caves (36) On a tear (7)


Honourable mention

For the poor cow about which Llud is so dismissive: “Keep prodding that one, and it’ll fall over.”

Intro (13)

This may be one of the cattle Peter Miller had in mind when interviewed for an article in the Western Daily Press on 19 July 1972, when he said, “Some long-horn cows were sent to the highlands of Scotland to grow the shaggy coats typical of the cattle of the period.”


What’s going on here?

Poor Rowena! She is delighted to see Llud, but one can’t help thinking that the glint in her eye is the hope that Arthur is nearby!

Intro (14) Intro (15)

When Llud asks her whether the Jutes usually send their women to barter, Rowena claims that her father trusts her judgement. If so, this is the first evidence we’ve seen of it! In “Rowena”, despite her protests, he sent her off to marry a scoundrel, and in “Some Saxon Women” he went ahead with his plan to become a slave trader despite her protests, until Arthur intervened. And later in the series, he is heard calling her “chicken-brain”!

Why is Llud selling horses - especially a great horse like Merlin? Only two or three episodes previously, Arthur’s people were desperate for more horses; Arthur expressed regret that they hadn’t bred any, and had to go cap-in-hand to Yorath for some.

When Llud tells Kurk how Kai is faring, we see a flashback to a scene from “People of the Plough” – a scene which Llud could not have witnessed, from an episode in which Llud didn’t feature!

The male longhorn Kurk claims to own looks rather like the one recently seen in Mark of Cornwall’s village during “Rolf the Preacher.”

The Sale (43) Rolf brings food (9)

When Rowena bids six measures of silver for the cattle, Kurk immediately accepts her offer, without waiting for any higher bids. Why is Kurk determined to fleece his friend’s companion? He later claims that his reason was that he only needed six measures to ransom Bron. But this seems completely out of character for someone with as few moral scruples as Kurk. It seems likely that Kurk thought his chances of getting away with his deception were better if he sold to Rowena. He probably feared Rowena's retribution less than what might come from the other burly fellow. Or perhaps he just wanted an excuse to see more of his old friend, Llud! Of course, the other buyer could have been a shill.

When, and how, would Kurk have learned to use an axe as a weapon?

Why are Berthold’s guards facing into the cave? It must be obvious that any danger would come from outside.

Kurk is blamed for stealing the pouch from Berthold’s table, but it is actually Berthold himself who pulls off a cunning robbery!

Berthold's caves (98) Berthold's caves (99)


Music

Some of the music tracks used in this episode were:

Track 21, Celtic Bard: Llud leads the horses to market.
Track 30, Night Scene: Llud tells Kurk how Kai and Arthur are faring.
Track 4, Sentinels: Kurk shows Llud the stolen cattle.
Track 6, Infiltration and Treachery: Rowena bargains for the cattle.
Track 5, To Battle! – Llud and Rowena are ambushed.
Track 16, Danger Mounts: Llud and Rowena part ways.
Track 8, Kai the Saxon/Skirmish and Rout: Llud pursues Kurk.
Track 34, Title Theme (middle eight): Llud and Kurk set off on foot.
Track 4, Sentinels: Llud persuades Kurk to attack Berthold’s men.
Track 26, Evil Stirs: they enter the caves.
Track 7, Hesitation and Achievement: Bron is re-united with Kurk.
Track 23, Children’s Games: Kurk and Bron make their escape; Llud tries to fool Kai and Arthur.


The whole suite of music, beautifully written and orchestrated for the series by Paul Lewis, is now available on CD.


Cast

Arthur …………….... Oliver Tobias
Kai ……………….… Michael Gothard
Llud ………………... Jack Watson
Kurk ……………….. Michael Craig
Rowena ………….… Gila von Weitershausen
Berthold ……………. Peter Copley
Cattle Dealer ……….. Reg Lye
Buyer …………….… Victor Platt
Bron ………………... Jeannie Fisher
Hurn ………………... David Brierly
Minstrel ………….…. Fred Wedlock

Crew

Director ………….…. Pat Jackson
Writer ………………. Robert Banks-Stewart
Executive Producer … Patrick Dromgoole
Producer ……………. Peter Miller
Associate Producer …. John Peverall
Production Manager ... Keith Evans
Post-production …….. Barry Peters
Fight Arranger ……… Peter Brayham
Cameraman ………… Bob Edwards
Camera Operator …… Brian Morgan
Editor ……………….. David Samuel-Camps
Sound recordist ……... Mike Davey
Set Dresser ………….. Ken Bridgeman
Art Director ………… Doug James
Assistant Director …... Stuart Freeman
Production Assistant ... Ann Rees
Costume Design .…… Audrey MacLeod
Make-up ……………. Christine Penwarden
Incidental music ……. Paul Lewis
Theme music ……….. Elmer Bernstein
Maria and a friend of hers were extras on the series when they were 17 or 18. They long blond hair at the time, and often got work through an extras agency. They got £20 per day, and had early starts – setting out from Bristol at around 6 am – and late finishes. Their costumes were like sacks!

Their favourite actor was Brian Blessed; he was lovely. They sat in his car once, when it was raining. Michael Gothard asked her out, but she had seen him in “The Devils” the week before, so she declined his offer!

Once, some of the cast had their lunch on the set, and left a box of matches on the table – the scene had to be re-shot!

She and her friend were in a scene filmed in Redcliffe Caves in Bristol, which appears in “Six Measures of Silver.” They were warned not to wander off because there were so many tunnels, they might never be found.

The caves – Redcliffe Sand Mines – are artificial sandstone caverns, from which red sandstone was excavated to be converted to sand for the glass and pottery trades.

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Arthur of the Britons

August 2015

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