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!”

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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" around the beginning of 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.

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The knife-throwing and wine-throwing scenes which were re-shot were from the beginning and end of “Daughter of the King.” However, only the new version of the knife-throwing scene was used. Judging by the appearances of the actors - especially Michael Gothard's hair - the wine-throwing scene broadcast was clearly the original one, filmed during the same period as the bulk of the episode.

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There were not many whole episodes left to be filmed by this time: “The Prize”, “The Games”, “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 must be 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.
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

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Plot

Kai rides into the village, and reveals that Rowena is to marry Mark of Cornwall. Arthur tries to pretend he doesn’t care, but Kai and Llud don’t believe him.

Arthur goes on the rampage, inspecting the warning system, the store of kindling wood, the thatch on a hut, and the state of awareness of a sentry, and finding them all wanting. This amuses Llud and Kai.

A Messenger then brings the news that Garet and Gawain, are feuding again, and that some Saxons have slipped in from the coast, through Yorath’s territory.

Arthur sets off at top speed to visit Rowena’s father, supposedly to discuss the gap in his defences. Yorath is annoyed about the betrothal. He wants to stop Mark from getting hold of some land he gave to Rowena, so he obligingly begs Arthur to stop the wedding, in exchange for which he will shore up his defences.

Llud tries in vain to get Arthur to admit his true motivation. Arthur is confident that he can change Rowena’s mind, simply by getting Mark to reveal his oafish side.

When Arthur and Llud arrive at Mark’s village, they are greeted warmly by Mark and Rowena, who are both pretending to be in love.

Arthur gets Rowena alone, and tries to persuade her of the folly of marrying Mark, but without making any counter-offer. Mark lurks outside the longhouse, listening to their conversation. Rowena believes she can change Mark, by showing him affection. She fails in her attempt to get Arthur to admit he is jealous. Arthur tells her that Mark is only after her land, and explains the deal he made with her father; she angrily throws him out.

Arthur then goes nose to nose with Mark, who vows to remain sweet and civilised until he has married Rowena.

The wedding celebrations start, with a tug-of-war, in which Mark of Cornwall pulls three of his villagers over. Arthur then challenges Mark to a contest. They pull against each other, and when Mark seems to be winning easily, Arthur, without warning, lets go of the rope, and Mark topples backwards into the river.

Mark is hauled out, marches up to Arthur, soaking wet and ferocious, then suddenly smiles, and pretends that he enjoyed the joke.

That evening, they meet again at the wedding feast. Mark and Rowena are sitting together at the head of the table, making overt displays of affection. Mark invites Arthur to sit next to Rowena, but he refuses, and Llud sits there instead.

Rowena discusses further changes she can make to Mark’s appearance, and Mark strives to hide his irritation. Arthur then makes insinuations designed to ruin Rowena’s reputation. Though this makes Mark furious, it fails to dent his resolve to marry her.

Later that evening, Arthur and Llud have a heart-to-heart. Llud thinks Arthur should tell Rowena he loves her, but Arthur doesn’t want to get married under pressure; he is determined to continue with his plan to pick a fight with Mark.

Next morning, Mark appears resplendent for the wedding; he and Rowena stand looking at their two thrones, set in an artificial grove, surrounded with flowers. Mark then jauntily approaches Arthur and Llud, to gloat about his success. As he starts to walk away, Arthur deliberately trips him, and boots his behind, so that Mark lands with his face in some mud.

His wedding finery ruined, Mark gets to his feet, and he and Arthur draw their swords, and fight. When Arthur seems to be losing, Llud starts to draw his sword, then notices that Rowena is watching the fight with great anxiety, and realises what Arthur is doing.

Mark drives Arthur to his knees, and raises his sword to finish him off, but Rowena leaps between them, slides her arm around Arthur’s shoulders, and the two of them smile at each other. Mark sends them both on their way, then takes out his frustrations on his villagers in his usual fashion.

As Arthur escorts Rowena back to Yorath’s, Llud goes home, where he and Kai share a laugh at Arthur’s expense.


Timeline

"The Marriage Feast" is one of the few episodes to refer to specific events that occurred in other episodes - episodes which must therefore have preceded it. Arthur mentions the time - during “Rowena” - when Rowena saved his life, after they were attacked by Saxons, and Mark responds, “We could have done with her at Modred’s field, eh, Llud?” - a reference to “The Duel”. In another reference to that episode, Mark calls Llud the “only man ever to defeat Mark of Cornwall in single combat”.

As Arthur and Rowena appear to have certain expectations of each other in “The Marriage Feast”, it makes sense for it to come after their conciliatory hug in “Some Saxon Women.” Filming is thought to have taken place between “Some Saxon Women” and “Rolf the Preacher”, in early to mid-October. Seasonal cues support this: the trees and vegetation are still quite green, and Rowena wears a coronet of fruiting Old Man’s Beard (Clematis) in her hair. There are also some autumn leaves (Field Maple just on the turn) in the coronet.

Patrick Dromgoole1 confirmed that “Gila [von Weitershausen] was only available for a limited time”, so filming of all the episodes featuring Rowena and Yorath would probably have been “bunched.”

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


Locations

For the opening scene - as in “Some Saxon Women” - the area to the south west of the longhouse serves as Arthur’s village, with the warnings system on the rise to the west of it.

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Arthur’s meeting with Yorath is filmed inside one of the huts.

Skilful filming and set-dressing allows the northeast side - where Yorath's village was set last week, in "Some Saxon Women" - to be used for Mark of Cornwall’s people. Mark and Rowena come out of the north east door of the longhouse to greet their guests.

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In “Some Saxon Women”, you can even see the beginnings of the circular shelter that - this week - became Mark and Rowena’s marriage bower.

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Inside Information

The daughter of one of Michael's friends recalls: “Near the beginning of ‘The Marriage Feast’, Michael is sitting with Jack Watson and teasing Arthur. He says ‘Ooooooo!’ That was Michael … He would use ‘Ooooooo’ if he was teasing …”

The rest of the memories she has shared can be found here.


Cast Notes

The biggest claim to fame for Martin Read, who played the cheeky messenger, appears to be a few appearances as DC Jimmy Thorpe, in “The Sweeney”.

On a tear (75) Martyn Read  'The Sweeney' (1975) 1.3


The Great Pretenders

This episode is all about pretence. Arthur pretends he doesn’t care that Rowena and Mark are to be wed, then goes on a hilarious rampage, which makes it clear to everyone, with the possible exception of Arthur himself, that he is upset. At Yorath’s, he pretends to know nothing about the wedding, then pretends he doesn’t want to interfere.

Llud calls Arthur on his deception of both others and himself: “You two-faced fox. You don’t give a rotten apple about the gap. You just want to stop the marriage. And you want to make it look like you’re doing it as a favour to someone else.”

When he visits Rowena, Arthur pretends that he isn’t jealous, and that his main concern is her welfare: “The man’s a pig … He’ll use you as a skivvy, Woman … I just don’t like to see you making a fool of yourself.”

Rowena is also pretending; she doesn’t really want to marry Mark, as can be seen from a look she gives Arthur; it seems to say, “see what you’ve driven me to?”

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At times, she even appears to be conniving with Arthur, to give Mark an excuse to erupt, and herself, an excuse to back out of the wedding. The way she keeps calling Mark back for trivial reasons when they are outside the longhouse is clearly designed to annoy, as is her behaviour at the feast, when making suggestions about how Mark should change his appearance.

After the feast, it is clear that Arthur has completely forgotten about his stated reason for attending the wedding; Llud reminds him that his failure will mean that “Yorath will refuse to close the gap”, and Arthur replies, “The what?” He then brazenly reasserts his determination to have it closed!

But when Llud says, “Now you love the girl. Go and tell her so”, Arthur at least has the grace not to deny it, though he refuses to go and admit it to her, on the grounds that, “She’d expect me to marry her, then.”

Of course, the biggest and most magnificent pretence of all is Mark of Cornwall’s transformation – inspired by his desire for land and power - from his usual blustering, arse-kicking self, to a polite and genteel bridegroom, with “so many arrangements”!


A Fine Romance

“Why should I do anything about it? Nothing to do with me … If she can’t see what a pig the man is ... It’s their choice. If she wants to ruin her life, that’s her funeral.” Words to melt any young girl’s heart! It is truly pitiful that Rowena has to throw herself at Mark of Cornwall, just to get Arthur’s attention.

But if she wants romance, she isn’t going to get it from Arthur. One might think, from his attitude - “What sort of a game is this you’re playing?” – that she were already betrothed to him!

Rowena is desperately hoping that Arthur will become the man she wants him to be. When Arthur says that Mark of Cornwall “can no more change than a wild bear”, and Rowena replies, “Love can do strange things, even to wild bears”, it is Arthur - whose name means “The Bear” - and not Mark, that she is referring to.2

But Arthur remains incurably insensitive: “Love? He’s after your land, Woman.” Rowena is understandably upset that Arthur seems unable to imagine Mark wanting her for any other reason.

Sure that Arthur has feelings for her, she begs him, “Tell me. Tell me the truth.” His bloodless response - “I made a deal with your father” - is enough to make anyone want to slap him!

His behaviour at the feast is even worse. In modern terms, he becomes a classic slut-shaming jerk, who can’t stand to see his ex-girlfriend with another man. “To the time you ripped off your dress to bind my wounds”; “Do you remember when I had to tie you to your horse, chase you into the woods for half a mile, and how you thanked me, afterwards?”; “You’re a lucky man, Mark! Believe me. I know. To the long days, and the long, long nights we had together!”

Llud thoroughly disapproves of Arthur’s games, telling him, “I’ve always had the idea that if people loved each other, they did get married.” But Arthur won’t give an inch: “I’m not so sure I want to get married. Anyway when I do, it won’t be under pressure.”

The matter is only resolved when Arthur lets Mark get within a whisker of killing him. When Rowena leaps between them, Arthur is happy - verging on smug - that he has forced Rowena reveal her true feelings first; Rowena, by now, is just relieved that she has got out of marrying Mark, and that Arthur hasn’t been killed.

She even seems fairly sanguine about the fact that her reputation is in tatters: “I suppose you know, you have ruined my life. What now?”

Arthur’s promise to “discuss it on the way” still leaves her hanging.


“It is I! Mark of Cornwall!”

Arthur implies that Mark only wins a tug of war against three villagers because they are all scared of him, but Mark shows remarkable restraint in this episode, resisting the urge to do violence even after Arthur deliberately dumps him in the stream.

Later, at the marriage feast, his invitation to Arthur - to sit next to Rowena at the head of the table - looks like a genuine attempt to make friends: “Ahh, come now. We’ve had our differences, but on my wedding-eve I want all to be friendship.”

The fact that Mark’s interest in Rowena has nothing to do with romance must have made Arthur’s insults to Mark’s betrothed easier to bear. But it is a bit of a surprise that he doesn’t try to kill them both, when Rowena saves Arthur’s life, making it obvious that she has just been using Mark to further her own agenda.

Somehow, Arthur and Rowena get away with making a fool of Mark of Cornwall, in front of his whole village. They were lucky this was a teatime show!


Dark Age Men

Rowena is little more than a pawn in a game played by the men. Even Llud, who seems to be the only one with any interest in her welfare, implies that while she “could never stomach” a man like Mark, a more important factor would be her father’s disapproval. Arthur speaks of Yorath delivering his daughter into Mark’s hands, as if she were a package.

Yorath assumes that his daughter is only marrying Mark to annoy him: “She knows I can’t stand the fellow”, and Arthur dryly agrees that it’s very irritating, for him!

The only reason that Mark is interested in Rowena is her land, which Yorath only gave her because she had made an unusual (for her) womanly effort: “For once she had cooked a half-decent meal”!

Yorath then gets on his high horse because Rowena’s land - which he still regards as his - will go to Mark, making him more powerful than Yorath.

Arthur promises to show Rowena “what a swaggering hulk” Mark is, but his own behaviour towards his host is extremely oafish, while Mark manages to contain the worst of his customary bullishness. In a wonderful play on words, he tells Arthur: “Until she gets the bridle on, I’m going to be as sweet as hazelnuts”.

At the marriage feast, when Arthur refuses Mark’s offer to sit beside Rowena, his real motive in sitting at the opposite end of the table is to set himself up against Mark, and get Mark’s men to laugh at him. This way he also gets to see Mark’s reaction to his slights on Rowena’s honour.

In the end, Arthur cleverly subverts the macho contest he engineered; by losing a fight, he makes Rowena choose him, over Mark.


Celts and Saxons

The Messenger seems remarkably sanguine about Saxon incursion: “Oh, nothing. Five or six of them”, and Kai laughs at Arthur’s concern about a few Saxons. While Llud mentions the “scores who come in from the east”, he doesn’t seem too troubled about them, either.

Though Arthur still seems concerned about the fifty or sixty Saxons a longboat could hold, he is more worried about Rowena’s impending marriage; the Saxons are actually doing him a favour, by giving him an excuse to interfere with it!

So what has changed since “the battle that decides” in “The Duel” – at which no more than thirty Saxons showed up?

It is Kai’s attitude that has changed most dramatically of all. In “The Gift of Life”, he wanted nothing to do with the two Saxon orphans, and at Ulrich’s camp, he accused their people: “You despoil our forests. You cut down our trees. You drive out the wild boar which is the food of life to us … You raid our villages.”

Clearly his experiences since he faced the Saxon’s council – the fact that they let him live, and the children helped him escape, his rustic interlude with Freya, the help Thuna gave the Celts at the slave camp, his brief reunion with his childhood friend Roland, and the rescue of the Saxon women from Yorath - have all influenced his attitude. Now he calls them, “harmless cattle traders.”

At the end of the episode, Arthur has all but forgotten about his precious gap, and Llud and Kai are able to joke at Arthur’s expense, about the threat of “Saxon cattle herders, pouring in … Three or four at a time … Running amok in our meadows … Terrifying the buttercups.”


The best laid plans …

Rowena’s plan to make Arthur jealous works magnificently, but she still fails to extract a marriage proposal from him.

Arthur’s plan to stop the wedding succeeds, in the end, though Mark isn’t as dumb as Arthur takes him for.

Mark is the only one facing complete failure.


"By the Gods!"

Yorath refers to Rowena as being “hell-bent” on marrying Mark. He also mentions that she used the services of some monks to have his gift of land to her documented, “with their pens and parchments, getting everything down in writing.”

But on the day of the wedding, there is no sign of a priest waiting to perform the ceremony for Mark and Rowena.

At the end, Kai drily thanks heaven for Arthur’s wisdom, in taking care of the gap.


Great moments

Arthur’s rampage.

Arthur, pretending he doesn’t care about Rowena’s impending marriage, while Kai and Llud don’t even try to contain their amusement.

On a tear (80) At Yorath's (25)

Yorath calling Mark a “filthy barbarian”, then snorting, and flicking the resulting snot onto the floor, with his fingers.

Mark, speaking and behaving as a gentle, polite, parody of his usual self.

A changed man (17) Men can change (23)

Rowena playing the psychologist, and blaming Marks’ temper on the fact that he’s “never had any affection in his life” - and his amusement at the very idea.

Arthur and Mark facing up to each other.

Men can change (77)

Mark, turning on a sixpence, from jovial to raging mad and back again.

Arthur and Rowena’s smiles, when Rowena has saved Arthur’s life.

The final deadpan exchange between Kai and Llud, where - once again - they make fun of their glorious leader.


Quote/unquote

Kai: The whole balance of what?

Mark: A bridegroom has so many arrangements.

Mark: Where would we all be, if we can’t laugh now and again?

Mark: Nobody must leave the table while they can still stand straight!

Llud: You love the girl. Go and tell her so.

Llud: I’ve always had the idea that if people loved each other, they did get married.

Llud: It’s very hard to pick a quarrel with a man who’s determined to avoid a fight at all costs.


Arthur’s wisdom …

… seems to have taken a holiday.


Extra! Extra!

Gerry Cullen recalls: “I was involved in inside banquet scenes in two different shows. One was “The Marriage Feast”; I am sitting next to Brian Blessed, on his right. You can only see me in a quick wide shot at 14:45, and some back and forth over the shoulder shots in that scene, one is at 16:15.”

The Feast (18)


“That is bloody dangerous!”

Plenty of extras must have got a few extra pounds in their pockets as a result of being thrown around by Mark of Cornwall.

Gerry Cullen recalls: “Extras would get an additional £2 per day if they were involved in any stunts, or got pummelled. They probably don’t allow that today – too many lawyers – but it was fun then. In one episode, “The Marriage Feast”, a scene called for Mark of Cornwall to storm off, mad because Arthur had just embarrassed him.

It must have been my turn that day, as the director picked me to be thrown over Brian Blessed’s shoulder as he rampaged through the village, knocking people out of his way. We did at least 5 takes where Blessed literally threw me over his shoulder and into the air; he was a strong guy. Lucky for me, I studied jiu-jitsu in high school, so I knew how to land in hard falls, but it was still somewhat rough. I was disappointed when I watched the DVD; the take they used was the only one where he did not do that; instead, they used the one take where he just throws me down.”

The Fight (143) The Fight (145)

More of Gerry’s memories can be found here.


“Night-night, Kiddies!”

Arthur’s comments about Rowena would probably not feature on children’s TV these days: “Here’s to the Queen of the South. And the times we had together … To the time you ripped off your dress to bind my wounds.” “Do you remember when I had to tie you to your horse, chase you into the woods for half a mile, and how you thanked me, afterwards?” “You’re a lucky man, Mark! Believe me. I know.” “To the long days, and the long, long nights we had together!”


Dressed to kill?

Arthur spends the whole episode wearing a brown suede lace-up shirt. He also has a white cloak with a hood.

Men can change (63)

Kai rides in wearing his “Last Valley” tunic, and the big shaggy white coat. In the scene at the end, the tunic he is wearing is very similar to the one he wore in “Rowena”: perhaps it is the same one, with the addition of some leather trim.

vlcsnap-2016-02-28-08h40m49s057 LLud arrives home (37)

At the start of the episode, Llud is wearing his usual old white shirt, but he puts on a decent tunic to go visiting.

Rowena must have bought a trousseau; she is seen in three different dresses, a blue V-necked dress, a more formal-looking blue dress, and yet another wedding gown in which she doesn’t get married.

Men can change (36) The Feast (59)

The Fight (87)

Mark of Cornwall is more lavishly attired than usual, though his cloak has been used before, by the Celt Watchman in “The Prisoner.”

A changed man (17) vlcsnap-2016-02-28-08h41m48s775

His wedding finery looks lovely until Arthur gets started; no wonder he was upset about the mess!

The Fight (14) The Fight (39)

In Arthur and Rowena’s last scene, the colours of their outfits are nicely inverted.

Riding Home (18)


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

Kai rides into the village, on Moonlight. The Messenger arrives on Flame. On the way to see Yorath, and from Mark of Cornwall’s village, Arthur rides Bernie, and Llud rides Curly. Rowena is on her usual mount, Blackstar.


On the table

As so often, Arthur shows his lack of respect – this time, for Yorath - by eating an apple while discussing matters of importance. Mark’s feast may be the most lavish seen yet.

The Feast (8) The Feast (41)

Mark drinks from a ludicrously huge goblet, “a man-size cup”, and insists Llud do the same!

The Feast (84)


Honourable mention

For the “Celt Warrior” - who, for the benefit of the audience, gives a homespun running commentary on Arthur’s fight with Mark: “What’s the matter with Arthur? He’s got Mark so mad he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Arthur could have killed him three times b’now … If he’s not careful, he’s gonna lose.”

The Fight (85)

He is credited as David Hyde, but the information on IMDB is clearly incorrect, as this particular David Hyde would have been 2 years old at the time of filming.


What’s going on here?

Soon after “Enemies and Lovers”, when King Athel’s tribe learned the secret of Arthur’s famed warnings system, Arthur’s people moved to the – albeit rather patchily - palisaded village. Since then, we haven't seen the system, in which balls in a basket are supposed to make a rumbling noise, “loud enough to warn of danger … But soft enough for the sound not to carry … through the natural rustlings of the forest.” Arthur is angry about the slackness of the ropes holding the basket, but the system won’t be of much use on an open hillside, in full view of any approaching enemies!

vlcsnap-2016-02-23-19h45m57s736 On a tear (7)

When Arthur storms past, Kai is doing some maintenance on his axe; but what is Llud playing at? Hasn’t he got any work to do?

On a tear (47)

The Messenger brings two bits of news, but Arthur only seems interested in the Saxons slipping through Yorath’s territory. He doesn’t trouble himself one jot about Garet and Gawain’s feuding, even though, in “The Challenge”, he paid them a special visit, to sort them out!

Kai doesn’t seem to have been invited to Mark and Rowena’s wedding. Perhaps Mark is still angry with him, for trying to save Roland from him, in "The Prisoner."

Arthur expresses surprise and annoyance at Yorath, for delivering his daughter into the hands of a man like Mark. He has conveniently forgotten that, not long ago, at her father’s behest, and in the face of strong protests from Rowena, he himself delivered her to the abhorrent Hecla to be wed.

In the scene at Yorath’s, Arthur appears to be shamelessly manipulating his host - but is it the other way round? Perhaps Yorath deliberately left a gap in his defences, to use as leverage to persuade Arthur to stop the wedding.

Yorath says he gave Rowena some land because “she had cooked a half-decent meal”. As King of the Jutes, one might think he’d have servants to cook for him.

Llud is unexpectedly mean, to suggest that Yorath could take his gift of land back from Rowena! And Arthur is quite arrogant in the way he speaks to Yorath, in his own kingdom.

Everyone laughs when Arthur suggests that Mark should have “Little curls … Coming down over his forehead”, but that’s what Mark already has! Mark also appears to have big white wings – perhaps this was what inspired his casting as Prince Vultan in “Flash Gordon”!

The Feast (101) Prince Vultan

While needling Mark, Arthur asks Rowena, “Do you remember the time you saved my life?” Arthur didn’t see it that way at the time - in fact, he accused her of nearly getting him killed.

Another thing he seems to have forgotten is his usual - inconvenient - insistence that his word must be unquestionable. His second toast strongly implies that Rowena once ripped off her dress to bind his wounds: something we never see this in the series. Neither did we hear Rowena thank him for tying her to her horse – she objected quite strongly at the time!

The fact that Rowena doesn’t call him a liar to his face seems to show that she is prepared to sacrifice her reputation, if only it will convince Mark not to marry her. Or perhaps those scenes ended up on the cutting room floor!

Mark’s sword can’t be very sharp, if he can hold it by the blade.

The Feast (105)

Arthur has a puzzling piece of dialogue just before his fight with Mark. “You know what they call a man that marries for land, don’t you?” Mark replies by shouting, “Rat!” but this seems to be an insult, rather than a reply. So what word did the writers have in mind, that would so enrage Mark, just by implication? “Fortune-hunter”? “Gold-digger”? Neither seems terribly cutting.

Perhaps Mark was annoyed by the suggestion that he was playing a feminine role, in social ladder climbing, and marrying for what he can get out of it. Even then, Arthur’s taunt doesn’t make much sense in the historical context, where most rulers' marriages were contracted for strategic or political reasons.

What happened to Rowena’s attendants? When she left Mark's village unwed, she seems to have left them behind.

Of course, the burning question of the episode is, why does Arthur treat Rowena so dishonestly? Is he afraid to admit to love, after seeing how badly Kai’s affairs of the heart have gone? He doesn’t seem to have had many of his own. Perhaps he thinks it’s too soon to commit himself to one woman. Or is he just too busy for love?

And is anyone else as worried as I am, to see Kai, drinking alone, in the middle of the day?

LLud arrives home (5)


Music

Some of the music tracks used in this episode were:

Track 6, Infiltration and Treachery: Arthur gets bad news.
Track 14, Chase! Arthur and Llud set off to see Yorath.
Track 17, Pensive Moment: Llud questions Arthur’s motives.
Track 20, The Fair Rowena: Rowena tries to get through to Arthur.
Track 4, Sentinels: Mark refuses to lose his temper.
Track 15, At Dead of Night: Arthur insults Rowena.
Track 24, Carousal: Mark and Rowena survey their thrones.
Track 15, At Dead of Night: Arthur trips Mark in his wedding finery.
Track 26, Evil Stirs: Arthur seems to be losing the fight.
Track 29, Pastoral Episode: Arthur decides to escort Rowena home.

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
Messenger …………. Martin Read
Celt Warrior ……...... David Hyde

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 ………… Bob Edwards
Camera Operators ..… Brian Morgan, Mike Haftie
Editor ……………….. Terry Maisey
Sound recordist ……... Mike Davey
Set Dresser ………….. Ken Bridgeman
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 More of Patrick Dromgoole’s memories can be found here.

2 In “The Penitent Invader”, another episode written by Terence Feely, Rolf refers to Arthur as “The Bear.”
Episode 2.6: The Marriage Feast

Writer: Terence Feely


OPENING SCENE


Kai rides into the village.

Kai: Some news.

Kai dismounts. Arthur and Llud approach.

Kai: Rowena’s to marry Mark of Cornwall.

Arthur looks troubled.

Llud: Never! Rowena could never stomach a man like that. Besides, her father can’t stand the sight of him.

Kai: Ah, it’s true I tell you. I just heard it from one of Mark’s men.

Llud: When’s the wedding to be?

Kai: Soon.

Llud turns to Arthur.

Llud: You’d better go down there and do something about it.

Arthur: Why should I do anything about it? Nothing to do with me.

Arthur walks away.

Kai: [amused] Oh, I see.

Arthur walks towards the longhouse.

Arthur: If she can’t see what a pig the man is ...

Kai: True.

Llud turns his back to Arthur; he is laughing.

Arthur: And if her father’s willing to deliver his daughter into the hands of a man like that, that’s his business.

Kai: [innocent] Of course.

Llud smirks.

Arthur: It’s their choice.

Kai: Right.

Arthur: If she wants to ruin her life, that’s her funeral.

Arthur starts up the ramp to the longhouse.

Kai: Er … will you be going then?

Arthur turns back at the longhouse door.

Arthur: Hmm?

Kai: You’ve been invited to the marriage feast.

Arthur: [deadpan] Oh.

Arthur disappears inside the longhouse. Kai slaps Llud on the shoulder and they burst out laughing.

[OPENING CREDITS]



PART 1

Read more... )
Plot

A Greek trader arrives in the village of the Jutes, with a large barrel of wine that Yorath wants to buy.  The trader demands to be paid in slaves: five Saxon women, whom Yorath and his people are to capture for him.

This upsets the Jute women who witness the bargain, and Rowena protests vehemently. But Yorath won’t listen, so Rowena goes to Arthur for help.

Though Arthur is reluctant to put his alliance with Yorath at risk, he takes Rowena’s point - that the trader will not stop at ‘a few Saxons’ - and he resolves to take action.

Back at Yorath’s village, we see five captured Saxon women, shackled to some posts. The Greek trader inspects them, and seals the bargain with Yorath.

Then Arthur, Kai and Llud arrive with Rowena. Arthur tells Yorath that Rowena is right - he shouldn't be encouraging the slave trade.

But Yorath objects to Arthur's challenge to his authority. He invokes their treaty, which says that the Celts and Jutes must respect each other’s laws. Arthur tells Kai to free the women, but Yorath threatens to dissolve their alliance, so Arthur and his party depart, leaving Yorath, triumphant, and Rowena, forlorn.

The next morning finds everyone in Yorath’s village asleep, after a night of drunken debauchery. In the foreground, empty shackles swing from a post. The Greek trader awakes, sees that the Saxon women have been freed, and scrambles to alert Yorath to their escape.

Yorath rides into Arthur’s village, and accuses him of liberating the women. Llud suggests that Rowena freed them, but Yorath insists she wouldn’t have dared to act alone. Though Arthur denies any involvement, Yorath still holds him responsible, and says that if Arthur enters Jute territory, he will be treated as an enemy.

Arthur is vexed that Yorath has called him a liar, and that the Celts' alliance with the Jutes seems to be over. Kai suggests they find the Saxon women and return them to Yorath.  Arthur devises a plan to use the Jute laws to make Yorath do the right thing.

With Llud’s expert help, Arthur and Kai track the Saxon women to a wooded hillside. Arthur tries to persuade them to return to Yorath with him, promising that they will be freed. But the women, led by Rowena, refuse.  They defend themselves by bombarding Arthur’s party with rocks.

Llud buys a net from the Greek trader, and Arthur and Kai use it to trap the women as they walk across an open field.

Arthur, Kai, and Llud ride into Yorath’s village, with the women, tied together by their necks, and Rowena walking beside them. The villagers line the route. Yorath and the Greek trader exchange satisfied glances.

Arthur then tells Yorath that he can’t give the women to the Greek trader; he must kill them. Kai reminds Yorath that according to the law of the Jutes, all captives must die at once by the sword.

Yorath thinks Arthur is joking, but Arthur hands him a sword, and, after a bit of soul-searching, Yorath slashes wildly at the women, who scream, and run. Yorath chases them, but when he finally has them at his mercy, he can’t bring himself to kill them. Instead, he knocks the plug out of the barrel of wine, which starts spilling out.

Mayhem ensues; despite the Greek trader's efforts to stop them, everyone rushes to get some of the wine. Even Llud, Kai and Arthur collect a share of the bounty.

The Saxon women – still tied together – start sneaking away, and some of Yorath’s men grab the Greek trader, and carry him, protesting, out of the village. The wine continues to flow.

As Arthur’s group rides out of Yorath’s village, Arthur sees Rowena standing beside the track, dismounts, and comes over to her, looking pleased with himself. The two of them are reconciled.


Timeline

Patrick Dromgoole1 confirmed that “Gila [von Weitershausen] was only available for a limited time”, so filming of all the episodes featuring Rowena and Yorath would probably have been “bunched.” “Some Saxons Women” appears immediately after “Rowena” in both the “Konig Arthur” book, and the German DVDs. Seasonal cues, such as the condition of trees and other vegetation, suggests that this order corresponds with the order in which they were filmed.

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


Locations

The village at Woollard remained divided up using bits of screening and palisade; once again, the long, north-east facing side of the longhouse served as the Jutes’ village, mainly decorated with horses’ hides and skulls. The long, south-west facing side of the longhouse, and the area in front of it, served as Arthur’s village.

The countryside around Woollard probably supplied the locations for the scenes on the wooded slope, and in the fields.

Inside Information

According to Oliver Tobias, Gila was very nervous when she first joined the cast on set, and not a very confident rider, and they delighted in playing jokes on her, including making her horse bolt! “Some Saxon Women” gave Michael Gothard the chance to do just that!



Patrick Dromgoole recalls, “At the risk of sounding cruel, one of my happiest memories is of a particularly pompous German actor, who was taking part (mainly because of the co-production arrangements) who usually spent an incredibly long time in make up. On one occasion, after keeping us waiting a long while, he arrived looking quite splendid, and fell flat on his face in the mud. We lost even more time as a result while his costume, make up and persona were repaired, but it was worth it.”



The actor referred to was presumably either Ferdy Mayne, (the Greek trader), or Georg Marischka, (Yorath). Given that Marischka was a relative newcomer, whereas Mayne had been acting for many years, it seems more likely that Mayne was the one who caused the crew so much amusement.



Gerry Cullen2, who appeared as an extra in the second season, (shown above, second from the right), says, “In ‘Some Saxon Women’ I am in quite a few shots but more interestingly there are good shots of the young woman that Michael Gothard was seeing. She is most easily seen in the scene starting at 7:00 where the two men look over the Saxon women who are chained up. In the shot where the two men stop and shake hands “to make the deal” was Michael’s girlfriend; she was German, and had a young child.




Writer note

This was the first of three scripts credited to David Osborn; it had an overtly political message, perhaps unsurprising given that he was blacklisted during the McCarthy witch hunts.


Cast notes


Ferdy Mayne was born Ferdinand Philip Mayer-Horckel in Germany. He had a long career, including appearances on both British and German TV and film.


Re-working the legend

Arthur doesn’t exactly set a shining example of chivalrous behaviour; nevertheless, he applies himself - albeit in a grudging and unceremonious manner - to the problem of the Saxon damsels in distress, and secures their release.


Dark Age Men and a Dark Age Feminist

“Some Saxon Women” expands on an issue given a passing mention in “Rowena”, when Kai jokingly suggested that - along with his lovebirds - he should have bought a woman.

When Yorath hears that the Greek trader wants five Saxon women, he is under no illusions about what their fate will be: “Herded down onto your boat … sent across the sea … to be sold as concubines on the slave blocks of Athens, eh? You bastard!” His conscience pricks him just enough to make the venture seem titillating; he wants his wine, and is prepared to do what it takes to get it.

Rowena protests, “I too am a woman”, but her opposition only makes Yorath more determined to go through with this dirty deal: “Then you will know your place. You will know that a woman is born to be the property of a man.”

When Rowena goes to Arthur for help, Kai’s reaction is to compare women to “A dozen haunches of good meat”. When he hears that it is five young Saxon women the trader wants, he suddenly seems to find it less funny.

Arthur is extremely reluctant to be drawn into a dispute with Yorath, saying he won’t risk the alliance for “a few Saxons”, of whatever sex. But when Rowena points out that “it won’t stop with Saxons! Next, he will ask … Saxons for Celtic women, and other traders will follow”, Arthur finds her argument sufficiently troubling that he tells Kai to send her away immediately!  Much to his annoyance, he realises that he must take action.

But when Arthur challenges Yorath, the wily Jute invokes the ‘Bros before Hos’ clause in their treaty: “To our alliance and friendship … Arthur – and may no woman ever come between us!”  He dehumanises the “Saxon sows”, and he isn’t much more respectful towards his own daughter: “buzzing nonsense again. Honey one moment – viper’s venom, the next.”

Arthur takes up Rowena’s argument: “Sell your Saxon women to this Greek thief, and he’ll be back next year. But up the coast, to some Saxon chief, and the price will be Celtic women, or Jute women. No wine is worth the human life.” Perhaps in an effort to get through to Yorath, he says they are, “daughters and sisters to their fathers and brothers”.  Their worth is judged by their value to other men!  Yorath sticks to his belief that, “women are property”, and, “worth not less than two pigs, and the hides of ten deer.”

It’s only at the end of the episode, when Yorath tries to justify killing the women - “Once on the Greek boat, and away from the shores, they’ll be as good as dead” - that he begins to look ashamed, and breaks his agreement with the trader.


"I’m a man of my word"

Arthur is furious that Yorath won’t take his word that he had no hand in freeing the women, and Kai rubs it in: “Arthur’s word is suspect. So a hard-fought-for treaty disappears on the wind.”

And later, when Arthur tells Rowena, “return to life, and freedom. I give you my promise”, Rowena, too, has the temerity to doubt him: “Your promises mean nothing.”

This is the sin for which, in the end, he demands - and gets - an abject apology.


A Fine Romance

Rowena goes to Arthur for help, so she must have some expectation that he will take action, either because he is a fair-minded man who does the right thing, or simply for her sake.

But if Arthur has romantic feelings for Rowena, he does a very good job of hiding them. She comes to him with perfectly rational arguments in her favour, yet his response, addressed not to her, but to Kai, is “get her out of here … She goes, now!”

When she rides back into the village, he seems impressed that she is “not easily dissuaded”, yet he still has little to say to her directly, apart from “Hold your tongue!” He seems to hate the fact that she is right, just as she was about Hecla.

Later, he even tells Yorath, “I will not see blood shed in my camp … for the ravings of your maniac daughter.” This seems very unfair, especially as he has already taken the arguments of that particular ‘maniac’ on board!

Considering his attitude, Rowena can hardly be blamed for her scepticism when Arthur promises to free the women. Yet at the end of the episode, he behaves as if he had every right to expect her implicit trust, and wants her to grovel: “Are you going to say it? … That you’re a fool. A shrew, with a viper’s tongue. That you were wrong. Wrongfully wrong.” Even more astonishing, Rowena, albeit reluctantly, complies: “I was wrong. I was a fool. I beg your forgiveness.”

Only then do we see any sign of affection from Arthur; he takes her by the shoulders and pulls her into a hug. It seems he can only cope with a relationship in which he has complete control!


Great moments

Each time Yorath has to correct the Greek trader’s pronunciation of his name.

The trader’s fastidious affectations: wiping the rim of Yorath’s mug before drinking from it; having the seat Yorath provides covered with his own animal hide, and flapping at something in the air that offends his delicate sensibilities.

Arthur’s determined, “We shall see” at the end of the scene at the forge.

Kai, covering Arthur’s retreat, as they leave Yorath’s village.

Arthur, Kai and Llud huddling behind a tree, as the women throw rocks at them, and Kai jokingly saying, “No one of them is my sister.”


The level-headed side-kick

Once again, it is Arthur, not Kai, who seems impetuous, demanding - in full view of Yorath - that Kai untie the women. Kai doesn’t comply, and both he and Llud advise Arthur not to endanger the alliance, for which “Blood flowed … friends died.” Even when Arthur points out that “the blood that flows in the veins of those women is the same as yours”, Kai isn’t persuaded to release them.


Quote/unquote

Arthur: No wine is worth the human life.

Arthur: I will not see blood shed in my camp.

Arthur: You must believe what you believe.


That is bloody dangerous!”

There are no actual fights in this episode, but a lot of weapons are brandished!

When the women run through the village, apparently tied together by the neck, they are actually just holding the rope with their hands.




“Night-night, Kiddies!”

While we don’t see much actual violence, the storyline - about women being taken captive by lecherous old men, to be sold into the sex trade - is pretty grim as far as teatime viewing in the 1970s goes, and no punches are pulled.

Rowena bluntly accuses Yorath and the trader of having got together, “To drink, and to rape defenceless women … Before they are sold, pound for pound, like cattle.” The women stand shackled to some posts, while the Greek trader examines them, feeling their arms, and looking at their teeth in a wholly dehumanising manner.

In response to Arthur’s protest, that the women may be Saxons, but they are also “daughters and sisters to their fathers and brothers”, Yorath’s brutal response - that the women, “have fathers and brothers no longer” - is chilling.


Dressed to kill?

Rowena asks for help (13)

At the start of the episode, Llud once again ends up stripped to the waist; he wears one of his plainer tunics for the rest of the time.

Costume (5) Blue shirt, white tunic

Arthur wears the blue woolly tunic with the embroidered cuffs, sometimes with the addition of a white tunic or coat, previously seen in “In Common Cause.”

you eat like a Celt (8)

Kai is wearing the same white shirt he wore in “People of the Plough”, so when they visit Yorath to try to free the women, both are - perhaps symbolically - dressed in white. Oddly enough, for the only scene set indoors, Kai dons the big cloak with the fur trim.



The Greek trader and his men are distinguished by their lack of breeches or trousers of any kind; clearly they make no compromises for British weather! Unusually, some of Arthur's men indulge in cross-gartered breeches.

Costume (1) Costume (6)

Rowena wears a green dress at the start of the episode – probably the one she was wearing for her aborted marriage to Hecla – but breeches and a blue shirt, possibly one previously worn by both Arthur and Kai, for riding.

Star


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

 

When Rowena’s horse, Blackstar – which she previously rode in “Rowena” – first arrives in Arthur’s village, Llud says, “See the markings on the horse? Jute.” But Blackstar’s only markings are three small white socks, a small star, and a very faint snip, none of which would have been obvious to Llud at that distance, and none of which are especially unique.

Perhaps Rowena was meant to have been riding “Frost”, the new, and very distinctive, silver dapple bay that Kai is seen riding when Arthur, Kai and Llud pay their first visit to Yorath’s village.  As this horse isn't seen again, it may have been a bit of a handful!



For the other scenes in this episode, Kai rides Blackstar. Throughout the episode, Arthur rides Bernie, and Llud, his usual mount, Curly.

Yorath rides into Arthur’s camp on Moonlight; his men are riding Blondie, Pinkie and Outlander; the Jutes’ horses are the same ones seen being ridden by Celts in previous episodes.



See this post for further details of the horses of "Arthur of the Britons."


"Extra! Extra!

The same blond extra who appeared in two places at once in “Rowena” is even more visible in this episode.

Arthur arrives (23) Arthur arrives (57)

She appears both as a Jute, to the left of Rowena, and as one of the Saxon captives.

A Bargain (34) Arthur confronts Yorath (33)

It seems a shame that neither the women playing the Saxon captives, nor the Greek trader’s three sidekicks, get a credit.




Honourable mention

This goes to Rowena, for her persistence, and for putting up with Arthur’s pomposity.


What’s going on here?

Even before Arthur hears what Rowena has to say, he looks slightly irritated to see her, and Kai immediately suggests that the trader wants a ‘dozen haunches of good meat’, which he then equates with women. It almost seems as if Arthur and Kai had already heard about Yorath’s bargain, and were expecting Rowena to show up.

Why is Yorath so convinced that Rowena would not have dared to free the Saxon women on her own? Is it just because he has a low opinion of women in general, and his daughter in particular? The audience is left to guess whether anyone else assisted her. Arthur denies his own involvement, but Kai or Llud might still have lent a hand, possibly with his tacit approval!

And when Yorath’s party arrives, Arthur has clearly been expecting him, because some of his men are lying in wait, ready to appear on his signal, and surround Yorath’s party. Were Arthur’s look-outs very vigilant? Or did he know that the women had been freed, and that Yorath’s suspicions would fall upon him?

Despite the fact that the Greek trader seems perfectly capable of speaking English, Llud’s negotiations with him over the price of a net are conducted in sign language. Perhaps the sound recording crew had packed up for the day!

Arthur’s tactic of using Jute law to free the women is extremely risky, not least because the law is so ambiguous. “A woman is born, to belong to a man. To be used, bought or sold, and do with as he wishes” and “Prisoners are to be killed.” It doesn’t unequivocally state which takes precedence, if the prisoners happen to be women. Yorath could quite easily have said that it was up to the Jutes to interpret their own laws, and that Arthur should mind his own business!

Yet Yorath lets Arthur railroad him, and pleads, “We are friends. Allies together”, even though he has already told Arthur their alliance is over.

Then, when Yorath attacks, and the women run for their lives, instead of helping Yorath catch them, the brave Jute warriors all scramble to get out of their way!  Some of them even fall over in their haste. What are they afraid of?

One of the main problems with this episode is one of tone. The story deals with serious matters: slavery, legalised rape, the position and rights - if any - of women, and how one proceeds when one’s allies are behaving unethically. Yet it includes many moments which are comedic, some of them bordering on farcical; this makes an uncomfortable mix.

Yorath captured the five women, and murdered their families, but he is depicted as a bit of a fool, who has just been led astray by the promise of wine. The Greek trader, a lecherous and unprincipled entrepreneur, also comes across as a buffoon, scrambling about the village, more concerned about the loss of his hat than his state of undress, and utterly incapable of pronouncing Yorath’s name correctly. 



After their ordeal, the Saxon women - afraid to return to the village where a deal was struck before their eyes to sell them as slaves - arm themselves with staves, and rain down rocks on the men who have come to recapture them: the actions of truly desperate women. But the scene is played for laughs, with Arthur, Kai and Llud hiding behind tree trunks, more amused by their own predicament than sympathetic to the fugitives.  The scene where the women are caught in a net, and lie on the ground in a squealing heap, seems disrespectful of their plight.

The dissonance becomes more disturbing when Yorath runs after them, slashing with the sword. The women, who - logically - must have been terrified, run screaming through the village, in a scene which could have come from a ‘Carry On’ film or a Benny Hill sketch.  Perhaps the comic elements were thought necessary to lighten up the story enough to make it suitable for teatime viewing.

In order to have a “happy ending” to the episode, we are asked to believe that Yorath just needed the right guidance; that he has a heart after all. He can’t bring himself to kill the women in cold blood, with his own hand, so he brings his sword down on the plug on the wine barrel, letting everyone have a share in his ill-gotten gains.

This is painted as more impressive, and more generous than it is, so that Arthur can keep his alliance with him and still sleep at night. It neatly avoids answering the question of what Arthur would have done, if Yorath had decided to ignore his arguments and hand the women over to the Greek trader, or to accept Arthur’s ‘logic’ and kill them himself.

At the end, some of the Saxon women can be seen lying asleep on the ground near Rowena, as if they, too, have enjoyed Yorath’s alcoholic bounty. But one wonders what kind of a life they can look forward to, with no obvious means of supporting themselves, their village ransacked, and their families dead.


Music

Some of the music tracks used in this episode were:

Track 22, Revelry: the Greek trader arrives.
Track 24, Carousal: Yorath greets the Greek trader.
Track 26, Evil Stirs: Yorath makes a deal.
Track 15, At Dead of Night: Rowena ask Arthur for help; the women are assessed.
Track 24: Carousal: Yorath greets Arthur.
Track 16, Danger Mounts: Yorath calls Arthur’s bluff.
Track 13, In All Weathers: Yorath challenges Arthur.
Track 26, Evil Stirs: fishing for Saxon women.
Track 29, Pastoral Episode: the Saxon women are brought back.
Track 6, Infiltration and Treachery: Yorath considers his position.
Track 22, Revelry: wine for all.
Track 17, Pensive Moment: Rowena’s apology.

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
The Greek Captain .… Ferdy Mayne

Crew

Director ………….…... Patrick Dromgoole
Story ……………….... 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 Operator …… Brian Morgan
Editor ……………….. Alex Kirby
Sound recordist ……... Mike Davey
Dubbing mixer ……… John Cross
Art Director …………. Doug James
Assistant Director …… Keith Knott
Production Assistant … Ann Rees
Costume Design .…….. Audrey MacLeod
Make-up ……………... Christine Penwarden
Incidental music ……... Paul Lewis
Theme music ……….... Elmer Bernstein

1 More of Patrick Dromgoole’s memories can be found here.
2 More of Gerry Cullen’s memories can be found here.
Episode 2.4: Some Saxon Women

Writer: David Osborne


OPENING SCENE


Yorath the Jute’s village. Some of the villagers run to escort a wagon with a large barrel on the back, and it is dragged into Yorath’s village, amid a flurry of activity. Others assemble behind a seat that is brought for Yorath. Yorath comes out and sits down. The wagon pulls up. The Greek trader approaches Yorath.

Greek trader: Greetings, Yorat.

Yorath: [correcting the Greek trader’s pronunciation] Yorath.

The Greek trader laughs. A Jute woman brings a mug and gives it to Yorath. Yorath drinks, and hands the mug to the Greek trader, who casts his whip aside, wipes the rim of the mug, gives Yorath an ingratiating smile, then drinks. He then pretends that the drink disgusts him, but that he is trying not to let his opinion be known. He gestures towards the barrel, which clearly contains something far superior to what Yorath has given him.

Greek trader: There’s your wine – as promised.

Yorath gestures to one of the villagers, who brings a wooden stool for the Greek trader.

Yorath: Sit down.

Yorath taps the seat provided. The Greek trader snaps his fingers at one of his servants, who brings an animal hide to cover the seat. Evidently nothing in Yorath’s village is good enough for him. The Greek trader sits down, and waves the servant away, and flaps and blows at something in the air that offends his delicate sensibilities.

Yorath: Well now. How much? And I won’t pay silly money, eh? Just bronze.

Greek trader: Not money … Jute. A trade.

Rowena appears from behind a group of Jute women.

Yorath: Uh-huh? What then?

Greek trader: [lecherously] Some Saxon women. Five will do.

The Jute women, including Rowena, look perturbed.

Yorath: Ohhh.

Greek trader: A pleasant night’s outing for you. A few throats … slit? A few miles of forest walked. But they must be young.

Yorath chuckles lecherously.

Greek trader: And fair …

Yorath: I see … [chuckles] Herded down onto your boat … [sniffs, as if he smells something rotten] Sent across the sea, eh? To be sold as concubines on the slave blocks of Athens, eh? [laughs and leans over and pats the Greek trader conspiratorially on the arm] You bastard!

Yorath and the Greek trader are both laughing, like wicked children.

Rowena: Father! No!

Yorath looks ashamed, though clearly annoyed. Even the Greek trader looks a bit guilty – or perhaps just annoyed.

Rowena: But Father!

Yorath: GO!

He stands up and pushes his chair over.

Rowena: I too am a woman.

Yorath: Then you will know your place. You will know that a woman is born to be the property of a man.

Rowena looks outraged.

[OPENING CREDITS]


PART 1

Read more... )
Plot

Arthur, Kai, and two other Celts are riding through open country, their horses laden with goods obtained on a trading expedition. Kai looks disconsolately at two lovebirds in a cage hanging from his saddle. The trader he bought them from said they were songbirds, but they won’t utter a peep.

Hearing a call for help, the Celts immediately gallop along a woodland path, towards the source of the cry. But it is a trap – a rope, pulled tight across the path, trips their horses, and the riders fall, and are knocked unconscious. Someone steals the cage with the lovebirds.

Back at the longhouse, Llud tends a wound on Kai’s arm, while he and Arthur bemoan the loss of a whole season’s trading; perhaps a bigger worry is the theft of the four battle-horses they were riding. Llud suggests a visit to Yorath the Jute, to get some more.

In Yorath’s village, his daughter Rowena is berating him for sending her to marry another chieftain, Hecla. Though Yorath protests, “but you agreed”, Rowena refuses to go.

Arthur arrives, and tells Yorath he needs horses, for the defence of both the Celts and the Jutes, from the Saxons. At first, Yorath refuses, then he makes a deal: some horses, in exchange for Arthur’s services in escorting Rowena to Hecla’s encampment.

Rowena and Arthur set out, along with Arthur’s new horses. Rowena tells Arthur that she only agreed to the marriage to secure her father’s treaty; she thought the arrangement would be forgotten.

She wants to “take to the hills”, but Arthur refuses to turn a blind eye. She tries to bribe him with her jewellery, but to no avail. Then, while Arthur is distracted, she jumps on her horse, and gallops off. But Arthur soon catches her, and they continue on their way, with Rowena’s hands bound behind her back.

They stop for a meal, but Arthur won’t even untie her so she can feed herself. He tries to feed her some meat on a knife, and when she bites his hand instead, he goes off to eat alone.

Rowena manages to pull a knife from inside her boot, and cut her bonds. Then she frees some of Arthur’s horses, stows the knife in her boot, sits back down, and calls to “warn” Arthur that the horses are loose. While Arthur re-captures them, Rowena runs off again.

Arthur goes to look for her, and is hit on the head by one of three Saxons who have taken Rowena captive. When he comes to, Rowena covertly shows Arthur the knife in her boot, and he positions himself so he can get at it.

In exchange for her life, Rowena offers to show their captors where some monastery silver is buried, if they will ride there with her. As soon as she gets onto a horse, she rides at one of the Saxons and kills him. Arthur deals with the other two.

Rowena thinks that because she saved Arthur’s life, he should let her go, but he blames her for their capture, ties her hands once more, and puts her on her horse.

At Hecla’s village, Hecla presents Rowena to his people for inspection, leads her to the head of the table, pulls her onto his lap, pets her, and assures her that she will soon be a subservient wife.

While Hecla and Arthur talk politics, Rowena slips away.

Later, Rowena begs Arthur to help her escape, but he reluctantly refuses. Rowena accuses him of only caring about getting Hecla to join forces with him. Arthur tells her to stick to her agreement.

When Arthur sets out for home, he passes a hut with the cage containing the two stolen lovebirds, hanging outside. Arthur has his excuse to help Rowena.

Two days later, Rowena – under Hecla’s supervision – is getting ready to be wed, when they hear hoof-beats. They go outside to find Arthur, Kai, Llud, and more of Arthur's men, holding a group of Hecla’s villagers at spear-point, along with the goods they stole in the ambush. Arthur tells Hecla he still has need of a priest.


Timeline

Botanist Lynn Davy comments that the fruiting Clematis (Old Man's Beard) seen behind Rowena in the scene below definitely puts the filming in September.

Bargaining (42)

“Rowena” appears immediately after “Go Warily” in both the “Konig Arthur” book, and the German DVDs, but “The Prisoner” and “The Duel” are thought to have been filmed first, followed by the short break which Executive Producer Patrick Dromgoole recalls as having occurred halfway through the filming.

Gerry Cullen, one of the extras, remembers, “When I came in, I was told they were making some changes … and the series was half done.” “Rowena” was the first episode in which Gerry appeared, so it was probably the 13th to be filmed.

The main change seems to be the introduction of new recurring characters, Yorath – the leader of a tribe we haven’t met before, the Jutes – and his daughter, Rowena. Brian Blessed as Mark of Cornwall, who has not been seen since the first episode, would also appear more often in the later episodes, though not in this one.

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


Locations

For “Rowena”, the village at Woollard was cunningly divided up using bits of screening and palisade, so that the long, north-east facing side of the longhouse could serve as the Jutes’ village, mainly decorated with horses’ hides and skulls, while Hecla’s village was situated on the shorter, south-east facing end, and featured antlers as a motif.

Arthur arrives (6) Wedding day (17)

Patrick Dromgoole confirmed, “certainly the long house that we built and used was adapted for a number of different episodes”, and in later episodes, “the village was the same, but in deference to their architectural taste we shot it from two different points of view in long shot according to whether it was Jute, Saxon etc. or Brit.”

Arthur’s journey with Rowena mostly takes place on the River Chew, near Woollard. The place where Rowena refuses to cross the river looks like the same place where Arthur and Kai have their muddy brawl in "The Challenge."

Travelling (43) Travelling (50)

River brawl (28) River brawl (112)


Cast notes

At the meeting with fans in 2010, Oliver Tobias recalled that “Arthur of the Britons” was a co-production,1 on which they had to have a quota of German actors, and that because the producers felt that Arthur needed to loosen up bit, they brought in Rowena for him, ‘in a Platonic way.’

Born as one of six siblings into a noble Prussian family, Gila von Weitershausen had been acting professionally since the age of 14, and was credited simply as “Gila.”

In contrast, the acting career of writer and director Georg Marischka only began in 1971, when he was in his late forties; Yorath the Jute was one of his earliest roles in front of the camera.

Peter Bowles has a long and distinguished career in comedy and drama on film, TV and on the stage; rarely has he played such an unappealing character as Hecla.


Inside Information

Patrick Dromgoole recalls: "One particularly touching scene I remember was where Gila von Weitershausen was emphasising her maidenhood in a love scene, when we had to stop shooting because her baby started squalling in the background.”2

According to Oliver Tobias, Gila was very nervous when she first joined the cast on set, and not a very confident rider, and they delighted in playing jokes on her, including making her horse bolt!


Re-working the legends

When they hear a cry for help, Arthur and Kai immediately rush to the rescue, in a very chivalrous fashion. But when it comes to Rowena, Arthur is more concerned with keeping his word than with rescuing a damsel in distress. It’s only when he returns to retrieve his stolen property that he saves Rowena from her lecherous husband-to-be.


The real Rowena

The original Rowena was daughter of Hengist, who – with his brother, Horsa – led the Angle, Saxon, Frisian, and Jutish armies to Britain in the 5th century. Initially, the group came to serve one of the leaders of the Britons, Vortigern, as mercenaries. Rowena was then married to Vortigern, gaining political advantage for her father.


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

The importance of horses to the Celts is central to this episode. Having lost four battle-horses in the ambush, Arthur regrets not having had time to breed their horses, “As the Romans did.” Kai suggests crossing the sea to Gaul, to get more. Instead, Arthur pays a visit to “a man to the north who breeds strong horses”, Yorath the Jute.3

When Arthur arrives at Yorath’s village, he is, for the first time, seen riding a horse that isn’t white. This is presumably to emphasise the point that his horse was stolen. The horse he is riding is dark brown, with a small star.

His dismount at Yorath’s village is even more unconventional than usual. As a rule, a rider will dismount on the horse’s left, or near side, because – most people being right handed – the sword is usually worn on the left. However, Arthur has a spear in his right hand, which would be more difficult to manage if he were to try to dismount on the left side, so he swings his left leg over the horse’s neck, and dismounts on the horse’s right, or off side.

Arthur arrives (13) Arthur arrives (29)

After refusing to give Arthur any horses at all, Yorath ends up giving him seven, which shows how keen he is for someone else to solve the problem of getting Rowena safely to Hecla, with the minimum of fuss!

When they leave Yorath’s village, Rowena is riding Blackstar, and Arthur is back on a white horse, Bernie. He is leading two other white horses: Pinkie, and one we haven’t seen before, also with a pink mark on the muzzle, and a very long forelock, Binky. He is also leading Blondie, Merlin, Flame, and another bay horse with a star, either James or Charlie. By the time they reach the river crossing, Arthur is riding Skyline, and leading Bernie and Pinkie.

He rides Bernie when he has to catch Rowena’s horse.

Rowena uses Arthur’s horses as a distraction, and her own as a weapon.

When Arthur is leaving Hecla’s village, he is, for the first time, riding Binky.

Help me escape (34)

In the final scene, Arthur is still on Binky, Llud is on Curly, and Kai is on Moonlight – one of the horses which was supposedly stolen. Flame and Blondie are also with the Celts.

See this post for further details of the horses of "Arthur of the Britons."


Dark Age Men and a Dark Age Feminist

The story looks at the – sometimes unhappy – lot of women in Arthur’s world. In the opening scene, Kai even jokes that he should have bought a woman from a Greek trader, so that his lovebirds would sing.

The Jutish princess, Rowena, finds herself in an unenviable position. Two years ago, probably under pressure from her father to do her duty for her people, she agreed to marry Hecla when she came of age, as part of a treaty between Hecla’s people and her own. Now the time has come, she refuses to go, and calls her father, “Peddler of flesh!”

To be fair, Yorath does seem somewhat regretful about having to send his daughter away, and he is understandably frustrated that she has changed her mind. But his comparison of her to a half-tamed horse: “Daughters are not brought to heel so easily!” is not very flattering!

Arthur tries to persuade her that the marriage will have some benefits: “You’ll have a much easier life. You’ll be taken care of”, but proto-feminist Rowena asserts that she doesn’t need a man to look after her.

When they arrive at Hecla’s encampment, it is easy to see why Rowena hoped that her betrothal to Hecla would be forgotten. He carries and parades her around for inspection by his villagers as if she were a piece of meat, even asking, “How would you like a slice of that, eh?” He mocks her when she is upset, foists his attention on her, and assures her that he will soon have his “mountain butterfly” under his thumb.


A fine romance

While Kai has had flings with Eithna (“Daughter of the King”), Goda (“Enemies and Lovers”), and Freya (“People of the Plough”), and received favourable attention and help from Hildred (“The Gift of Life”) and Thuna (“The Slaves”), Arthur seems very much a novice where women are concerned, with little more than an unfulfilled promise from Eithna to his credit.

If Arthur is attracted to Rowena, he doesn’t seem to know what to do about it. As they set out, his first conversational gambit is the unfailingly annoying, “Your face’ll set forever in that scowl”, which gets him a well-earned grimace from Rowena. But at least – unlike with Eitha – he has the sense not to criticise her for riding a horse, or for wearing breeches, and by the time she says, “I need no man to take care of me!” he is clearly falling a little bit in love with her.

Travelling (19) Travelling (20)

Later, when he suggests that the cowardice of which she accuses Hecla was because he was “made timid by [her] presence”, perhaps it is Arthur himself who is feeling that way. But he is hamstrung by his promise to deliver her to Hecla; she bites his hand, and tells him she wishes they were both dead.

His bitterness at having to leave her with her execrable husband-to-be spills over into his sarcastic reply when Hecla thanks him for bringing Rowena: “It was a pleasure to accompany such a sweet-tempered lady.”

Help me escape (3) Help me escape (12)

When Rowena begs him to take her away, he is clearly conflicted, and implies that he might have considered it if she had been nicer to him, but that he is not going to “make an enemy of Hecla for a spitting cat.”

Rowena accuses him of having no care for her happiness. His reply: “Believe me … I wish you well” – is hardly the kind of declaration to melt anyone’s heart, but eventually he finds a way to square it with his conscience, and rescue her.


"I’m a man of my word"

Having established to his own satisfaction that Rowena consented – however reluctantly – to marry Hecla, Arthur shows his inflexible side. He is determined to deliver her safely, come hell or high water. “I gave my word to your father that I would take you to Hecla … And I’m a man of my word!”

One might have thought that, having discharged his duty to Yorath by escorting Rowena to her destination, Arthur could then have helped her escape, without having technically broken his agreement; he does split hairs like this in other episodes. But he seems driven, not only to keep his own word, but to make sure that others do the same. “I fulfilled my obligation to your father. Now you must keep your promise to Hecla.”


Arthur’s wisdom

Arthur makes no decisions hastily, but usually – as in this episode – he finds a way to do the right thing in the end. His restrained behaviour when Rowena bites his hand is commendable.


Celts and Saxons

Kai says that if their horses have been stolen by Saxons, they will have been eaten, and when three Saxons catch Arthur and Rowena, Arthur says, “It isn’t like them to keep their axes clean, with Celtic blood about. Or Jutish blood.”

But Rulf was both a Saxon, and a competent rider; Kai has already been treated with justice by Ulrich’s people, and when Cerdig’s slavers kidnapped the men of Col’s village, they even left the women and children alive, and free.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that some of what Arthur and the other Celts say about the Saxons is based on prejudice, rather than evidence.

In “Rowena”, Arthur tries to use the Saxon threat to get the horses he wants from Yorath, but the wily old leader claims that “When the Saxons come, they find more trouble than they need.” Though Arthur is probably right when he says that Yorath is being protected by Celt lines of defence, Yorath is more concerned with his domestic problems!


The hot-headed side-kick

Kai has undergone something of a transformation since “Arthur is Dead.” Based on the earlier episodes, one might have expected that after the ambush, he would be the one who was raging mad, and out for revenge. But his reaction is quite phlegmatic: “We’re lucky we have our lives.” He leaves the fuming to Arthur and Llud.


Grumpy Old Men

The loss of their goods and horses has put Llud in a very bad mood; it sounds as though he feels Arthur and Kai are to blame!

Yorath is also in a bit of a snit, having had pots thrown at him by Rowena; the way he greets Arthur – “Whaddayou want?” – is not going to win any prizes for diplomacy!


“That is bloody dangerous!”

The start of the episode is quite fraught with peril, though possibly not as bad as it looks. Horses are supposedly tripped, but only one horse is actually seen falling, or rolling, and the same fall is shown twice. Neither the horse nor the rider who fall are the ones seen galloping along the track; the rider who initiates the fall looks like stuntman Terry Yorke, who played one of Mark of Cornwall's men, Mahon in "The Duel", and the bay horse in the stunt has lot more white on its face than those seen earlier.

Love Birds (22) Love Birds (36)

Love Birds (37) Love Birds (38)

Oliver Tobias manages to avoid another head injury, and - despite her lack of confidence, and of protective head-gear - Gila von Weitershausen also survives a few canters, and being dragged from her horse, apparently unscathed.


“Night-night, Kiddies!”

Hecla’s threat to turn Rowena into a submissive wife may be the most chilling moment in the episode. Arthur’s “You still have need of a priest” comes a close second.


Dressed to kill?

Possibly as part of the “changes” Gerry Cullen mentioned, there are quite a few new costumes in this episode. Arthur has two new tunics, one mustard-coloured, and one, a white knitted affair, as well as a white lace-up shirt, and a purple cloak.

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Kai has a new brown and turquoise tunic. Yet somehow, both Llud and Kai again manage to end up stripped to the waist ...

Love Birds (5) We should have bred (13)

Arthur goes back to his ring armour for his return to Hecla’s village, while Llud makes himself decent in his studded tunic.


"By the Gods!"

Addressing Arthur, and possibly Kai as well, Llud once again highlights the fact that he has different beliefs: “thank your god they were more interested in what you carried, than your lives”.

Rowena fools the Saxons into untying her, by pretending she knows where some monastery silver was buried in an earth barrow, to hide it from the Saxons.

Hecla intends to marry Rowena in a ceremony officiated by a priest. When Arthur arrives to reclaim his goods, he tells Hecla he still needs a priest – presumably to shrive his soul before Arthur has him killed.


Great moments

Domestic scenes in the longhouse are always a pleasure to watch, and Arthur’s chat with Yorath is amusing.


Quote/unquote

Rowena: Just because you sired me, I will not be treated like one of your dumb mares!
Yorath: Daughters are not brought to heel so easily,
Rowena: I need no man to take care of me.
Arthur: I’m a man of my word.
Arthur: It was a pleasure to accompany such a sweet-tempered lady.
Arthur: You still have need of a priest.


On the table

It’s nice to see that Arthur is capable of doing his own cooking; he even goes to his pack to get some salt or seasoning for the meat he is cooking for himself and Rowena. Beside him, on the platter, is a piece of meat which looks as though he bought it from a supermarket!

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At the feast at Hecla’s village, we see the usual selection of bread, meat and apples, and there are some dead rabbits hanging up, as well as that stag from Rolf’s village! The bits of food the villagers are cooking in their spits look rather over-done.

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Extra! Extra!

When Arthur arrives at Yorath's village, a bashful-looking blond girl runs inside. The same blond girl is then seen standing behind Arthur, to his left.

Arthur arrives (6) Arthur arrives (23)

She then appears at the door again, with Rowena.

Arthur arrives (57)

“Rowena” was the first episode in which Gerry Cullen4 appeared as an extra. He remembers playing one of Hecla’s villagers at the feast, and says “at 19:48 I am sitting down in front of the table, and throw wine at a villager, who falls down.”

Look at her (14) Look at her (15)

By the end of the episode, he has joined Arthur’s side instead! Here, he is standing in the middle, next to Arthur.

Gerry centre


Honourable mention …

… has to go to the lovebirds, who give Rowena back her wings.

Love Birds (18)


What’s going on here?

When Kai is seen on the ground after the ambush, he has a head wound. By the time he gets home, his injury seems to have migrated to his left arm.

Love Birds (42) We should have bred (25)

When Kai says of their lost horses, “In Saxon hands they’ll be eaten by now”, Arthur’s response, “How d’you know he was a Saxon?” sounds rather paranoid. Surely he doesn’t suspect Kai of being in on the ambush? Perhaps after the incident with Roland, he hasn’t yet learned to trust him again.

Why does Arthur go to visit Yorath on his own? And why does he set his spear in the ground point up? The usual way to signal peaceful intentions is to drive the point into the ground, blunting it.

Arthur arrives (21)

The mare which Yorath claims in “only half-tame” was actually being encouraged to buck by a flipper attached to her hind leg.

See that mare (2)

When Arthur tells Yorath he has “no experience to judge” how daughters behave, and Yorath replies, “You will have”, Arthur looks quite alarmed. Does he really consider it completely out of the question that he should ever reproduce?

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He seems very relieved when Yorath – apparently in agreement that he is unlikely to produce female offspring – clarifies, “Not as a father! As an escort.”

Perhaps Arthur’s earlier expression of regret at not having had time to breed, referred to more than just the horses!

If Hecla rules a small kingdom to the south of Arthur, and Yorath’s territory is to the north, how is it that Arthur, who lives closer to Hecla, has never met the fellow, and yet Yorath has gone so far as to make a treaty with him?

While Arthur and Rowena travel on their way, you can see two memeber of the crew in shot. One runs across the path behind the horses, and one is walking in front of them. Presumably, the one in front of novice rider Rowena is leading her horse.

Travelling (3) Travelling (7)

When Rowena puts her jewellery away, there is one brooch that she slips into her boot, instead of putting it back in her bag. But by the time they make their next stop, the brooch has magically turned into a dagger! Or perhaps there is a simpler explanation: she wanted to keep the brooch to use for barter, and the knife was there all along.

Bargaining (14) The Horses (12)

When she has cut her bonds, she slips the knife back into its hiding place, and by the time they are captured by the Saxons, it has very conveniently moved round to the outside of her magic boot!

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When they stop for a break, Arthur walks behind all his horses in a way that is not recommended.

Bite (2)

But these horses are so placid, that even Arthur, with all his flapping and chasing, can’t persuade them to run away with any enthusiasm!

The Horses (42) The Horses (41)

The Horses (43b) The Horses (45)

When they continue on their way, following Rowena's first escape attempt, Rowena seems to have her hands free, but moments later, we see her hands bound behind her back, and Arthur, leading her horse. But why didn’t he tie her up straight after she tried to escape? And in the shot where he is leading Rowena's horse, what has happened to the other horses he got from Yorath?

Bargaining (40) Bargaining (41)

Not that Hecla is any kind of catch, but his compliments to Rowena – “Isn’t that a fine woman, eh?” “There now, look at that! How would you like a slice of that, eh?” seem a little odd considering her tomboyish appearance. Hecla’s first wife must have been quite malnourished if Rowena really has “more meat” on her!

Rowena was quite persistent in her attempts to escape from Arthur, so why doesn’t she try to escape from Hecla’s village on her own?

How did the villager who was caught in possession of the stolen lovebirds know that they were supposed to sing? Kai couldn’t have told him – he was unconscious when they were stolen from him! And even if the villager recognised them as songbirds, why is he so annoyed? It’s not as if they cost him any money!

When Arthur says, “You still have need of a priest”, we are left to wonder whether Hecla is really to be executed, leaving his rabble leaderless. Like the line in “Enemies and Lovers” – "she got what she deserved" – the implication is that the punishment is death, and according to the blood price logic of the times, Hecla would have had to "pay" for his deeds, be it in money or blood. But execution seems a bit drastic in this case. After all, Geraint was killed in the fall; Hecla didn’t deliberately murder him, otherwise they would have killed Arthur, Kai and the other “red-shirt” as well. It seems more likely that Arthur would have settled for the release of Rowena from her promise, the return of his property, compensation for the relatives of the dead man, and a treaty.

Luckily for Arthur, he would have got his own horses back, in addition to the ones Yorath gave him!


Music

Some of the music tracks used in this episode were:

Track 23, Arrival of Arthur: Arthur and Kai arrive on the scene.
Track 21, Celtic Bard: Kai’s lovebirds won’t sing.
Track 10, Battle on Horseback: the Celts answer a cry for help.
Track 23, Arrival of Arthur: Arthur arrives at Yorath’s village.
Track 33, Springtime: Arthur and Rowena set out along the river bank.
Track 23, Arrival of Arthur: Arthur goes back to fetch Rowena.
Track 30, Night Scene: Arthur makes Rowena cross the river.
Track 8, Kai the Saxon/Skirmish and Rout: Rowena tries to escape on her horse.
Track 34, Title Theme (bridge): Arthur and Rowena continue on their way.
Track 21, Celtic Bard: Arthur cooks a meal.
Track 20, The Fair Rowena: Arthur brings Rowena some food.
Track 5, To Battle! – Rowena gets her knife and frees the horses.
Track 10, Battle on Horseback/Bitter Victory: Arthur chases and catches the horses.
Track 6, Infiltration and Treachery: Rowena and Arthur defeat their Saxon captors.
Track 3, Celtic horns/The Longships: Arthur and his men arrive to confront Hecla.

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
Hecla ……….............. Peter Bowles
Erig …………….…... Kenneth Colley
Villager .….…............ Hal Galili

Crew

Director ………….…. Patrick Dromgoole
Story ………………... 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 ………………. Alex Kirby
Sound recordist …….. Mike Davey
Dubbing mixer ……... John Cross
Art Director ………… Doug James
Assistant Director ….. Keith Knott
Production Assistant .. Ann Rees
Costume Design .…… Audrey MacLeod
Make-up ……………. Christine Penwarden
Incidental music ……. Paul Lewis
Theme music ……….. Elmer Bernstein

1 With German public-service television broadcaster, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, usually shortened to ZDF.

2 There is no scene in any of the episodes where Gila mentions her maidenhood, so perhaps there was not enough time to re-shoot those particular lines.

3 “Moving forward, to the time of the Romans, in Great Britain, it seems the Roman cavalry horses, may have bred with the native horses, which produced a new breed, consisting probably of strains from every area from which Roman horses were taken. The effects of this cross breeding are not fully understood. Also, we do not know the extent to which the Jutes and Saxons may have introduced new breeds into England … We know, from an early high court official, that a law was passed prohibiting export of English horses, except as gifts, this suggests that the English horse was superior to many overseas breeds.”
Ray Cunningham, in “History of Horses from Ancient Times.”

4 Gerry Cullen offered these insights into the filming of the series.
Episode 2.2: Rowena

Writer: Robert Banks Stewart


OPENING SCENE


Arthur and Kai are riding through open country, ahead of two other Celts. Their horses are laden with the results of a trading expedition. They come to a halt. Kai looks disconsolately at two lovebirds in a cage, hanging from his saddle. He clicks his tongue at them, then tries whistling, but with no response.

Kai: Aah! I knew I should have made that rogue of a trader prove they were songbirds before we left the port.

Arthur: Didn’t that Greek tell you they were bred by a Delphic priestess near the Temple of Aphrodite?

Arthur leans over to look at the birds.

Arthur: Perhaps they only sing for women.

Kai: Perhaps I should have bought a woman with them.

Kai glances at Arthur, who laughs.

Decoy: Heeelp!

Arthur, Kai and the others immediately turn their horses and gallop along a woodland path towards source of the cry.

Decoy: Help! Help me!

Arthur’s group continue along the path. As they gallop past the Decoy, he pulls and tightens a rope stretched across the path, tripping each of their horses in turn, so that the riders fall or are thrown, and knocked unconscious. Someone takes the cage with the lovebirds from where it landed on top of Kai.

[OPENING CREDITS]


PART 1

Read more... )
Gerry Cullen, who was employed as an extra on "Arthur of the Britons", offered these insights to the filming of the series.

By a series of total coincidences, I was running low on money in Bristol when I heard that Harlech TV was having open casting sessions, to find extras for "Arthur of the Britons." I was hired, and worked until the end of the series. I remember often being there six days a week. Extras were only used when they need villagers to “fill in” of course, but I was very lucky; I seemed to get most work, probably because I looked the most scruffy.

When I came in, I was told they were making some changes (I don’t know what they were) and the series was half done. When I watched the DVDs, I saw that I was in some of “Season Two” and not in any of “Season One.”

Gerry centre

In this scene from "Rowena", Gerry is the person in the middle, standing next to Arthur.

For me, it was paid graduate school. The demanding schedule called for rotating directors, so I was able to observe their different styles and methods, and how they interacted with the actors. Most of the talk that I had access to was about blocking, director/DP discussions on camera placement, and lighting. I also got to see some of the very good character actors who bolstered the roster. That experience gave me solid confidence throughout my modest career as a camera production person.

The set was always very calm and orderly; very professional. It seemed to me that they were trying to keep to filming one episode per week, so there was a lot of pressure to hit the short deadlines for a quick turn-around; the actors and crew had a lot to do to make a half hour weekly action show. We worked long days; the extras would meet early, often about dawn, or before, at HTV Bristol, and usually come back late in the day, sometimes in the dark. The filming was extremely well organized and all the crew and actors created a friendly, but always moving forward, atmosphere.

Shooting wasn’t always in sequence; there was definitely some overlap between one episode and another. I remember hearing sometimes that a B crew was shooting cutaways and other footage at different locations, to help keep things moving.

Since it was all 16 mm film back then, all the good takes would have to be developed, and the dailies would have to be looked over. Film editing was very time consuming back then; the editor was dealing with many, many, short clips of film that would need to be physically spliced together, then the music mixed in the audio department, and titles added in the lab. I would guess a month at least from shoot week to air. If I remember rightly, it was airing during production, but I didn’t have a TV, and I only saw one broadcast episode while I was there.

Back then it was a big deal to have Arthur in the more primitive environment, rather than the glossy concept of shining armour and big gleaming castles and such.

I remember two main buildings, and some smaller ones to make the village for the Celts. The make-up area was in a tent; wardrobe was in there too. The Celts main building was often converted back and forth between sleeping quarters and also used for inside banquets. The series won some awards for the location set designs and costumes. The food was real, but no alcohol; the wine was grape juice. As I recall the boars were real but don't remember anyone eating them. I was a strict vegetarian for the about 5 years back then so I didn't pay to much attention to them even though I sat right near them in some scenes!

Speaking of the dining tent, the food was great but what I found intriguing was the afternoon tea break, where everyone had banana sandwiches; I had never heard of such a thing but they were very good.

With regard to stunts – from what I observed it was always Oliver and Michael doing everything; I don't recall any stuntmen standing in for either of them. When there was a group of riders I believe some of those were stuntmen. Oliver and Michael always did their own riding, and they both were very good at it.

Extras would get an additional £2 per day if they were involved in any stunts, or got pummelled. They probably don’t allow that today – too many lawyers – but it was fun then. In one episode, “The Marriage Feast”, a scene called for Mark of Cornwall (Brian Blessed) to storm off, mad because Arthur had just embarrassed him. It must have been my turn that day, as the director picked me to be thrown over Brian Blessed’s shoulder as he rampaged through the village, knocking people out of his way. We did at least 5 takes where Blessed literally threw me over his shoulder and into the air; he was a strong guy. Lucky for me, I studied jiu-jitsu in high school, so I knew how to land in hard falls, but it was still somewhat rough. I was disappointed when I watched the DVD; the take they used was the only one where he did not do that; instead, they used the one take where he just throws me down.

The Fight (143) The Fight (145)

I was involved in inside banquet scenes in two different shows. One was “The Marriage Feast”; I am sitting next to Brian Blessed, on his right. You can only see me in a quick wide shot at 14:45, and some back and forth over the shoulder shots in that scene, one is at 16:15.

The Feast (18)

In the other, I sit next to Arthur in a scene where Arthur and an opposing group, I cannot remember which one, decided to make a treaty and be peaceful with each other, so they hold a feast to celebrate.1

While Arthur and the leaders of the opposing group are inside at the banquet, some of the villagers from both sides have a knife throwing contest at a target. There is an accidental death when a knife misses the target and kills one of the villagers, and things get tense. A messenger rushes into the banquet to tell everyone, and things get tense. I remember that one well. It was shot of course out of sequence. In the filming of it, first the outdoor scene was shot, in that shot I am standing near the target when the man next to me gets killed by the stray knife. Later the banquet scene is shot and the messenger comes in and tells Arthur what happened, when he does everyone gets tense and I was told by the director to slowly start pulling out my knife as if a fight was about to happen. Normally I wouldn’t say anything to the director but I thought I better tell him I was in the previous outside shot and he might have a continuity problem if I was noticeable. But he wasn’t worried so he probably had plenty of coverage. 2

At an outside feast in “Rowena” at 19:48 I am sitting down in front of the table and throw wine at a villager, who falls down.

Look at her (14) Look at her (15)

In "Some Saxon Women" I am in quite a few shots but more interestingly there are good shots of the young woman that Michael Gothard was seeing. She is most easily seen in the scene starting at 7:00 where the two men look over the Saxon women who are chained up. In the shot where the two men stop and shake hands “to make the deal” was Michael’s girlfriend; she was German, and had a young child.



On set, Oliver was always the quietest of the three main actors, and was always very courteous to everyone. He was the youngest, and – as the lead – he had the biggest responsibility. While waiting, he seemed to keep it very serious. He was perfect for the role of Arthur, and he did a great job, even though he was not that experienced.

Jack Watson was the most laid back. Having previously worked on TV productions in New York, I already knew never to bother the actors; always wait until spoken to, and stay on business unless someone else brings up a topic, because they need their space to think about their lines, and get into the character, but while waiting for his part, Jack would often stand on the side among the extras, chatting amiably. He usually had fewer lines to deliver than the others, so I would think that made it easier to be relaxed, plus he had the most experience.

The most serious I ever saw him was on the occasion when, in a nice manner, he scolded me. It was very cold on some of the early mornings, so I had gone to a second-hand shop and bought the warmest overcoat I could find: a long dark blue wool coat, that only cost three pounds.

While we were watching a scene being prepared, Jack, who was standing next to me, said, “Are you a medic?” I answered, “No. What makes you think I would be?”

He explained that I was wearing a Navy medic’s coat; it still had the patch on it.

I told him I didn’t know what it meant, I just bought it because I was trying to keep warm.

He wasn’t mad or anything; he was just very worried that if there was an emergency, it would cause confusion. I couldn’t imagine anyone would think I was a medic, since – other than the coat – my clothes were those of an impoverished medieval Celt, but I realized later that he was a WW2 Navy man, so I could understand his concern.

Michael Gothard was probably the most physical actor. Even standing still, the man seemed to be moving. I noticed that whenever he was in a scene that was being shot, the energy on the set went up; I think he was the sort of actor who made everyone rise up without their even realizing it. Somehow, Michael began talking with me, and found out I had just been travelling about Europe, much as he did some years earlier. During that period, we hit the pubs a few times.

Whoever cast this series really knew what they were doing. The contrast between Oliver and Michael made for good interplay between the two. Oliver was sturdy, emanated inner strength, and kept his cards close, while Michael was lanky, had his energy “out there”, and was often edgy.

It was my impression that the three lead actors liked each other very much.

It is amazing how popular and long-lasting Arthur of the Britons has been. Many of the Brits and Aussies that I have known here in the US remember the show very fondly and vividly. It is an incredible testament to everyone involved.

1 “The Treaty.”

2 This indoor scene, where a messenger comes in to tell the assembled chiefs about the death, does not appear in the episode as shown on TV; the footage must have been discarded.
Roger Pearce was the camera operator on many episodes. He was kind enough to share some memories of the times, and supplied some of the photos seen elsewhere on this archive.

I was the camera operator on much of the series – some 26 weeks in shooting – which began in a place called Woodchester Park in Gloucestershire. This is where the first village was constructed on the bank of a lake.

Woodchester was actually a far better place [than Woollard] to shoot Iron Age Britain; it’s a vast park, and though managed and farmed, is allowed to live and decay naturally and so pictorially looked more convincing. But it proved far too expensive to travel the cast and crew from Bristol and surrounding area every day, and the company couldn’t afford the accommodation for maybe 100 or so people, so it was decided to build a village much nearer to the Bristol base, and the chosen spot was the top and eastern side of Wollard: a large and steep meadow which slopes down to the river Chew. I remember a bridge was constructed over the river; perhaps the remnants might still be visible.

The disadvantages of this location were the rather restricted view for big wide shots, domestic dwellings, electricity poles and cables, clearly defined farm land with cultivated hedgerows, and the fact that Woollard is on the flight path to Bristol Airport though that not so busy then.

Two other locations you might recall, where two brothers were fighting in a wood, then spill out into open countryside, (one actor was Ken Hutchings; can’t remember t’other) and during the title sequence, 3 or 4 horsemen are following at speed the camera. We pass a telegraph pole: it’s still there, and was in shot! These two locations are on public ground, very near a pub called, ‘The Compton’.

Our unit base was at the top of the field where vehicles and large marquees were erected, one of which was the dining area. During really bad weather, of which there were many instances, we had to raise one side of the tent to allow a flow of water through and out the other side down to the river.

It being the 70s, many of our extras were student types who – apart from their every day clothes – quite looked the part. Some took to hiding at the end of each shooting day to evade crew; they would then re-emerge, occupy the better made huts, co-habit under furs and skins to the warmth of wood fires, and be ready for filming next day! Shall we say security was not what it is today! There was one security guard, and all he did was lock the gate when he thought the last person had gone. When the extras showed up early in the morning, the crew just thought they were really conscientious.

With regard to weaponry: most of the time it would be moulded rubber spear tips and daggers; only when the camera was close in would we switch to metal, although blunted, fake items could still inflict a wound. For any close up work or ‘no combat’ scenes, Kai’s axe would be genuine, but for hand-to-hand combat, an identical rubber axe would be substituted.

I have a vague memory of Ollie being injured. I think it was late afternoon and the result of a spear being thrown; it would not have been metal but a solid rubber tipped one. But with the weight of the wooden shaft behind it, it could still wound. I seem to remember Ollie was taken off by ambulance to be checked over and there may have been a few stitches to boot! Was filming halted? No, just rearrange the call sheet and press on! Nothing has changed.

When you are filming a series, you are like family, for the time you are together.

Additional information from Roger:

The scenes where people were riding were filmed from Range Rovers; they were very new at the time, so the crew was very excited about that!

The rock in “Arthur is Dead” was actually made of cloth, over a wooden frame. At one point, you can see a hole in it!

When filming “The Challenge”, they rolled down the bank a couple of times to practice, but they couldn’t get their costumes wet or it would have been all over. The scenes where they ride through the bracken were filmed in the Mendips.

The rock on which Arthur was tied to be flogged in “The Slaves” was in that position already. Black Rock Quarry has been used as a filming location many times.

When asked about filming "The Pupil", Roger says, "the only thing I do recall since you mention Peter Firth is, filming him under a stone bridge or culvert very close to the weir. He would have been hiding from someone, perhaps Kai?1 We chatted about girls between takes! ... As to the fight in the Long House, 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."

The series photographer was Stuart/Stewart Sadd.

Director Sid Hayers was a tall fat jolly man – nicknamed the Michelin Man.

1The weir featured in "In Common Cause". The scene where Peter Firth was hiding would have been the one in the flashback, when he saw Arthur kill his father, Mordor.
Plot

Arthur, Kai, Llud and two other Celts ride into view. Llud’s left shoulder seems to be troubling him. When Kai discreetly draws Arthur’s attention to this, Arthur suggests that Llud go back and take command of their village, but Llud insists on staying with them, to go into battle.

They meet up with Mark of Cornwall, and four of his men. Arthur manages to persuade Mark to join forces with them to stop the Saxon advance at Modred’s Field,1 but not before Llud has annoyed Mark, by questioning his loyalty and courage.

They camp for the night, and most of the men pass the time by gambling. Mark’s man, Luke, tries to get Llud to join in, but Llud, still in pain, refuses, and goes to sleep clutching his sword.

Next morning, when the others are saddling up, Llud is still asleep. Mark signals to Luke that he should wake him, which he does, by rubbing Llud’s elbow with the tip of his sword.

Startled awake, Llud promptly kills Luke – an instinctive reaction he immediately regrets. Though he apologises, and offers to make amends to Luke’s family, Arthur and Kai still have to restrain Mark from killing Llud on the spot.

As Llud is washing the blood from his hand, Mark tries to engage him in combat, but Llud persuades him to wait until after they have faced the Saxons. Mark swears that, after the battle, he will kill Llud with his bare hands.

The next day as they are travelling on, Arthur and Kai have a bet on what kind of tree they will see, when they go through a gap in the hedge.

Meanwhile, Mark occupies himself by sniping at Llud. Then a rabbit scares Mark’s horse; Mark is unseated, and dragged some distance, until Llud stops the horse’s headlong dash. Badly shaken, Mark still insists that he is going to kill Llud later, and even carries on persecuting Llud during the evening meal. Llud is annoyed, and understandably worried.

The next day, the group draws lots for who will go into a stand of trees, and find a boar to kill. Llud and Mark draw the short straws, but as they look for their quarry, a Saxon appears from behind a tree, and aims a spear at Llud. Mark warns Llud in time, and kills the Saxon, but claims he only did it so he can kill Llud himself.

That night, Arthur and Kai lay bets on which ant will reach a piece of meat first, but a frog eats Kai’s ant. Kai threatens to stomp on Arthur’s ant, and they wrestle, until Llud complains about their horseplay.

The next day, they arrive at the battlefield to find it already strewn with Celtic dead. The Saxon forces line up in a defensive formation, but Arthur’s cavalry easily defeats them.

After the fight, Kai goes to check on Llud. Mark approaches, and tells Llud he’s decided to spare his life, but Llud insists that Mark keep to his word, and fight him, bare-handed. Kai then gallops off, and tricks Arthur into betting that Mark will win the fight.

Llud wins, and he and Mark shake hands, and make friends.

On the way home, Arthur wins his last bet against Kai, by beating him in a race to a shepherd’s hut.


Timeline

“The Duel” was shown sixth in the series, but the presence of stubble fields indicates that it was filmed in early autumn. Other seasonal cues are also consistent with this episode having been filmed after “The Prisoner”, so Kai’s worry about meeting Mark of Cornwall makes a lot of sense, coming so soon after he lied to Mark, and fought him, in an effort to deprive him of his revenge on Roland.

Perhaps this episode was shown earlier in the sequence in order to spread Brian Blessed’s appearances as Mark of Cornwall throughout the series, rather than have them concentrated towards the middle, when he was available for filming.

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


Locations

All the scenes in this episode take place in open country; we do not see the village at Woollard at all. Presumably, this was being prepared for use as the home of both Hecla’s and Rowena’s people, in “Rowena”, which is thought to be the next episode.

Filming away from the village evidently posed problems, and the camera crew found it impossible to avoid the occasional glimpse of houses that definitely do not fit in with the period. Of course, before the advent of VCRs or DVDs, each episode would have only been seen when it was broadcast, so no one would have spotted these anachronistic dwellings, unless they had very sharp eyes!

House, top left:

Meeting with Mark (20)

Houses, upper right:

The Battle (45) Kai wins a bet (39)


Cast notes

In a long career, Max Faulkner, who played Luke in this episode, secured numerous credits, as an actor, stuntman, and stunt arranger. He appeared in an episode of the 1970s post-apocalyptic BBC TV series 'Survivors', and in Dr Who.

Eddie Eddon, “Saxon Warrior”, later appeared as an extra in Star Wars: A New Hope.

The Battle (35) Eddie 2

His character was given the name, Pello Scrambas, and a back-story in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.


Inside Information

The daughter of one of Michael's friends recalls: “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 [pet dachshund] up, or making a grab for me, he would have that playful, wicked expression on his face ... The more I see of ‘Arthur of the Britons’, the more I see that there is SO much of Michael in Kai.”

The rest of the memories she has shared can be found here.


Re-working the legend

Though the Modred/Mordred of Arthurian legend does not appear in the series, the “battle that decides” is fought on a field named after him.


Don’t call me old!

At the start of this episode, Llud seems to be feeling his age, rubbing his left shoulder. Arthur offers Llud a dignified way out of what might be an arduous journey, suggesting that one of them – naming no names – go back and – “take command of the camp.” Llud says he “was making long, hard rides” before Kai was born, which is precisely Kai’s concern. But Llud blames the weather for his discomfort, and refuses to go back, saying, “My place is at the battle – not at the hearth with the women and children.”

When they camp for the night, Luke laughs at Llud for being so keen to get his night’s sleep, saying, “Sleep is for the old.” Luke will never have experience old age; next morning, he ends up dead as a consequence of waking “a seasoned fighter”, with his sword.

On the third night, Llud takes issue with Arthur and Kai for having a little fun, asking, “What are you? Men or boys?” and telling them “You’ll get all the sport you need before you’re much older.”

But despite his grim warnings, Llud actually seems to enjoy a good fight. When they reach Modred’s Field, he rides into battle with a grin on his face, at the prospect of spilling Saxon blood, and in the end, he even seems to enjoy the fight with Mark.

The Battle (21) Mark spares Llud (85)

Incidentally, in the version of this story in the “annual” style book of the series, it is Llud’s right arm – the one with the missing hand – which is giving him trouble, but here it is his left. Presumably, it was too difficult to film Llud rubbing his right shoulder with a hand that was supposed to be prosthetic.


Family ties

Throughout the episode, Kai keeps an eye on his adopted father, noticing the problem with his shoulder early on, and trying to persuade him to return home.

He puts the blame on Luke for waking Llud with a sword, and he and Arthur stop Mark from taking immediate vengeance.

When Mark is niggling at Llud, Kai mocks Mark for falling off his horse, and after the battle, Kai immediately goes to check that Llud is alright.

On the other hand, when the fight between Llud and Mark finally begins, both Llud's adopted sons seem remarkably sanguine about it.


It is I! Mark of Cornwall!

As an ally, Mark of Cornwall remains reluctant, untrustworthy and volatile, and Llud’s implication that he lacks loyalty doesn’t help the situation. But having demanded that Arthur keep Llud out of his way during the journey, Mark at first has to leave it to his man, Luke, to do the dirty work of needling Llud, and then – next morning – waking the sleeping warrior, and getting killed for his pains.

Luke’s death gives Mark an excuse to spend the rest of the journey to Modred’s Field making Llud’s life miserable. It takes Mark’s special kind of bloody-minded pig-headedness to persist in doing so after Llud has saved his life – “Lost your appetite? I’d keep my strength up if I were you. You’re gonna need it” – and even more of the same to save Llud’s life, just so he can kill him later, because “No Saxon is going to cheat me of my revenge.”

It’s hard to tell whether Mark’s offer to ‘spare’ Llud, after he has spent three days harassing him, comes from arrogance, or cowardice; as it turns out, any doubts he might have had about his ability to beat Llud in a fist-fight were well founded.

Even after Llud has beaten him, fair and square, he still manages to get in one last dig, by referring to the fact that he was “beaten by a warrior with an iron fist.” But finally, he shakes Llud’s hand in friendship; perhaps Mark’s rehabilitation has truly begun.


A wager’s a wager

The episode title, “The Duel”, serves to describe both Mark and Llud’s struggle for supremacy, and Arthur and Kai’s much less serious competition, in which Arthur is usually the winner.

Kai has been losing for weeks, but he knows that his luck is bound to change – at least, that’s the theory! But in any case, their wagers seem largely theoretical; we never see them exchanging any coins.

They dice, they bet on the first tree they will see through a gap in the hedge, and when Kai wants to bet on the relative speed of two ants, Arthur wonders whether there is anything Kai won’t bet on. But he’s quite happy to join in the foolishness, and to manipulate the rules to his advantage, insisting that the frog Kai is worried about should be allowed on the course: “He’s part of the race. It’s the same for both of them” – even though it’s obvious that Kai’s will be the ant that gets eaten!

Next, we discover that there’s really nothing either of them won’t bet on – even the result of a fight – which was supposed to be to the death – between their father and Mark of Cornwall! When Arthur sees that they are fighting without weapons, rather than being delighted that there is less chance Llud will be killed, he complains that Kai “knew the circumstances of the fight”, and he didn’t. Kai says, “That’s what gambling’s all about. Knowing something the other man doesn’t.”

So, of course, Arthur – who doesn’t like to lose – has to have a final win, betting he will win a race to a shepherd’s hut, when he is the only one who knows the best route. He then smugly repeats Kai’s words to him – much as Llud repeated Mark’s!


Dark Age Men

Llud and Mark spend the episode measuring up against each other, but end up drawing the shortest straws.

Boar hunt (15)


The burden and loneliness of command

Though stopping a Saxon advance is a serious business, Arthur’s burden seems, if anything, to weigh a bit less heavily upon him during most of this “road trip” episode. Away from the responsibilities of the village, he finds time to relax, and have some fun.


Celts and Saxons

Arthur anticipates that the coming fight will be “the battle that decides”, because “Unless the Saxons are stopped at Modred’s Field, they’ll overrun us.”

Perhaps when, in “The Prisoner”, Kai claimed that Roland belonged to “one of Cerdig’s advance armies”, and that the Saxons were planning a big offensive, he was telling the truth.

Mark of Cornwall is finally prodded and persuaded to fight them, by appeals to his “loyalty to the blood.”

The Saxons are described as outnumbering the Celts, six to one, but lacking experience, especially against cavalry. In the end, the Saxons Arthur's men face only outnumber them by three or four to one, but some had presumably been killed in the battle that left Modred’s Field strewn with Celtic dead.

Arthur is quite right when he says, “That’s as far west as you’re going, My Friends.”


“That is bloody dangerous!”

BB stunt (7) Scene 3 (11)

The ever-reliable Merlin is called upon for the stunt where Mark is thrown from his horse, and dragged along the ground, his right foot supposedly caught in his stirrup. It's hard to tell whether it is actually Brian Blessed, or a stunt double, who is being dragged behind Merlin in the long shots, but whoever it is, you can see both of his feet are free; he is being pulled along by some kind of harness mechanism.

BB stunt (4) BB stunt (5)

It’s clear that for at least some of the shots, Brian Blessed is actually being dragged along the ground at a fair speed, and that his legs are strapped together.  He may have been being dragged behind a vehicle, rather than a horse.

BB stunt (2) BB stunt (3)

The main battle scene included lots of individual battles; the Saxons are, fortunately, very careful with their spears, and manage not to injure any of the horses ...

The Battle (73) The Battle (81)

The Battle (88b) (2) The Battle (88b) (4)

There are a few occasions during Llud’s fight with Mark where Jack Watson is replaced by a stuntman. Still, Jack does pretty well considering he was 57 at the time of filming!

Mark spares Llud (87) Wig (4)

Wig Wig (6)

There were quite a few stuntmen among the cast of this episode. Max Faulkner (Luke) was later involved in staging key horseback stunts in an episode of “Survivors”, so it seems possible he was also involved in horseback stunts in “The Duel.” Terry Yorke, credited as “Mahon” (one of Mark of Cornwall’s men) once doubled for Robert Taylor in jousting scenes in “Knights of the Round Table” (1953). Eddie Eddon, (“Saxon Warrior”) was a stuntman as well as an actor, and Peter Diamond, (“Saxon leader”) was a stunt arranger, performer, and sword-master


Dressed to kill?

Arthur wears his ring armour over the blue woolly shirt with the patterned cuffs, and the blue cloak he wore in “Enemies and Lovers.”

Kai is wearing the big shaggy white fur jacket first seen in “The Prisoner”, and the older of his studded tunics. Llud is clad in his studded tunic, and old white shirt.

Mark of Cornwall is wearing the tunic with the fewest studs. Clearly the one with studs all over would have been extremely uncomfortable to wear while being dragged along the ground!


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

Horses plays a big part in this episode. Arthur has heard that the enemy are inexperienced, “And they’ve never met cavalry” – his main reason for asking Mark of Cornwall for help.

Kai once again rides Moonlight, Llud, his usual mount, Curly, and Mark of Cornwall is on Merlin. The other Celts are riding Pinkie, Blondie, Pythagoras, Outlander, and Flame. Another dark bay horse – Luke’s mount – is seen too briefly to be identified.

Arthur rides Bernie for most of the episode, but for some reason, during his race with Kai at the end, he arrives on the other side of the stream riding Pinkie.


Great moments

The atmospheric opening sequence.

Mark of Cornwall, using his peculiar, scarily-polite voice to say, “I’m gonna come for you … and I’m gonna kill you … with my bare hands” – and Llud’s mimicry of him later in the episode.

The ant race. Kai’s sorrow at the loss of his “wild horse” is palpable. He is unquestionably a sentimental drunk!

Llud’s refusal to accept Mark’s offer to “spare” him.

Every scene where Arthur and Kai bicker over a bet.


Quote/unquote

Llud: He’s a Celt. And like us he cannot always have what pleases him.

Llud: Night’s for sleeping, not gambling.

Mark: When someone slays one of mine, I slay his killer.

Mark: This is not a song sung by minstrels.

Llud: Here comes trouble.

Kai: That’s what gambling’s all about. Knowing something the other man doesn’t.

“This is not a song sung by minstrels” neatly encapsulates the idea behind the whole series.

“Here comes trouble!” does a similar job for Mark of Cornwall, and possibly Brian Blessed too!



Honourable mention ...

… for the black rabbit who startles Mark’s horse, Cedric and Theodore the invisible ants, and the "frog" who makes a meal out of Cedric.

Scene 3 (7) Ant Race (45)


What’s going on here?

On meeting Arthur, Mark says, “You asked for men, I gave you men.” He must have had a change of heart since “Arthur is Dead”, because on that occasion, when Arthur made the request, the only answer Mark gave him was a look of disgust. So when Mark asks, “Why should it be I must get you out of trouble once again?” it might be pertinent to ask, “What do you mean, ‘again’?”

Mark’s imprecation to Arthur – “Keep him [Llud] out of my way” – seems a little extreme. Is it Llud’s slight on Mark’s loyalty that annoys him so much, or the doubt Llud casts on his appetite for the fight? It’s as if there is some past disagreement festering in the background, rather than just a reaction to this exchange. Perhaps Mark just got out on the wrong side of his bed this morning.

Llud often lets us know how much he loves his sleep, but it seems a bit odd that Arthur and Kai left him wrapped in his bedroll, when they were already saddling their horses.

Mark’s reaction when Llud kills Luke – “You murdering Celt!” – is also rather strange. Apparently, Mark has forgotten that he is a Celt, too!

Mark claims Luke was his “best man.” He can’t have held that position for long, because only last week, in “The Prisoner”, Mark was getting aerated because Roland had killed his “best battle leader”, Agdor. It’s almost as if Mark welcomes any excuse to take umbrage … Anyway, if Luke was such a military asset, surely he should have known better than to suddenly wake a man who goes to sleep hugging his sword.

Presumably they buried Luke before they set out – but what happened to his horse? It would have made sense to take it with them, in case one of theirs suffered injury, but there is no sign of the spare horse for the rest of the episode.

A recent archaeological dig has shown that rabbits were introduced to England by the Romans, but it seems unlikely that they were black ones.

Why did the lone Saxon in the woods where Llud and Mark were hunting boar, take the risk of attacking them? The Saxon is outnumbered, two to one, and has only a single spear. At best, he might have killed one of them, and would probably then have been killed by the survivor. It would have been more sensible for him just to sneak off quietly, and hope not to be noticed!

Arthur and Kai give their ants highly improbable names. Cursory research shows that the name ‘Cedric’ was made up by Sir Walter Scott for a character in his 1819 novel, “Ivanhoe”, and was based it on the name ‘Cerdic’! So Kai has, by an oblique route, named his ant after their Saxon enemy.

Theodore is a Greek name meaning "gift of god”; the name was uncommon in Britain before the 19th century, but perhaps Arthur learned it from the Romans ...

Arthur and Kai seem quite good at identifying trees – they know a lime from a sycamore – but they are not so good on amphibians. The creature that eats Kai’s ant is not a frog, but a toad.

When the battle is about to begin, the leading Saxon gives the command, “Slope arms”, with the result that the Saxons position their spears pointing forwards, and angled upwards. The command usually refers to a rifle, and ends with the rifle pointing over the left shoulder.

The use of cavalry was expected to give the Celts the advantage, but this particular battle was extremely one-sided. All of the Saxons are killed, without the loss of a single Celt, man or horse.

For Arthur and Kai’s last bet, how is it that Arthur knows the route to the Shepherd’s hut and Kai doesn’t? And why does Arthur finish the race on a different horse? Perhaps Pinkie was the one who knew the way!


Music

Some of the music tracks used in this episode were:

Track 9, Muttering and Plotting: Arthur and his men meet up with Mark of Cornwall’s.
Track 13, In All Weathers: Mark attacks Llud.
Track 11, Desolation and Despair: Mark and Llud talk by the stream.
Track 10, Battle on Horseback/Bitter Victory: Mark is dragged behind his horse.
Track 6, Infiltration and Treachery: Llud and Mark go boar-hunting.
Track 33, Springtime: the Ant Race.
Track 5, To Battle! – the Celts and Saxons fight.
Track 6, Infiltration and Treachery: Mark approaches Llud after the battle.
Track 8, Kai the Saxon/Skirmish and Rout: Arthur and Kai race.
Track 32, Children’s Games: Arthur rides off, the winner.

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
Mark of Cornwall ...... Brian Blessed
Luke ……………….. Max Faulkner
Mahon …………....... Terry Yorke
Saxon Leader …......... Peter Diamond
Saxon Warrior …........ Eddie Eddon

Crew

Director ………….…. Pat Jackson
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 …… Brian Morgan
Editor ……………….. David Williams
Sound recordist ……... Gordon Kethro
Dubbing mixer ……… John Cross
Art Director …………. Doug James
Assistant Director …… Mike Roberts
Production Assistant … Patti Belcher
Costume Design .……. Audrey MacLeod
Make-up …………….. Christine Penwarden
Incidental music …….. Paul Lewis
Theme music ………... Elmer Bernstein

1 The names “Modred” and “Mordred” are synonymous. In the hardback version of this story, the battle area is given as “Mordred’s Field.”
Episode 1.6: The Duel

Writer: Terence Feely


OPENING SCENE


A misty morning. The sounds of birds. Arthur, Kai, Llud and two other Celts ride into view, over a hill. Some other riders are seen in the distance, coming to meet them.

Arthur: Mark of Cornwall.

Kai: He won’t be pleased to see us.

Llud: He’s a Celt. And like us he cannot always have what pleases him.

Llud rubs his left shoulder.

Llud: Oh ...

Kai casts a worried glance at Llud, then looks at Arthur and shakes his head. Llud makes another sound of pain.

Arthur: Perhaps it was wrong for all of us to have come. One of us should ride back and keep command of the camp.

Llud: My place is at the battle – not at the hearth with the women and children.

Kai: It’s a long hard ride, even to reach the battle area.

Arthur and Llud turn to look at him.

Llud: I was making long, hard rides before you were born.

Kai: [as if Llud has just made his point for him] Ye-es.

Llud: It’s this weather gets into my shoulder. Well, are we going to stay here gossiping, or are we going to see Mark? Come on!

They ride forward to meet Mark and his four companions.

Arthur: This is the battle that decides.

Mark: Decides what? I’m in no trouble.

Mark and his men chuckle.

Arthur: Unless the Saxons are stopped at Modred’s Field they’ll overrun us. And then you … will be in trouble.

Mark: You asked for men, I gave you men. Now you come begging for horsemen.

Arthur: A messenger has brought word that the Saxons outnumber us, six to one. But as warriors they are raw. And they’ve never met cavalry.

Mark: Why should it be I must get you out of trouble once again?

Llud: Because you’re a Celt. And there’s such a thing as loyalty to the blood. Perhaps you haven’t heard of that in Cornwall.

Mark and Llud give each other hostile looks.

Llud: If you’ve no stomach for the fight, say so, and let those who have get on.

Mark: I’ve no cause to like you, Arthur. But I like Saxons less. I’ll help you fight your battle. But I give you fair warning. It’s a long way to Modred’s field. Keep him … [points at Llud] out of my way. [to horse] Hah!

Mark and his men turn and ride away. Llud watches them go.

[OPENING CREDITS]


PART 1

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