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.

Intro (52) On a tear (11)

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.

A changed man (2)

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

The Fight (7) vlcsnap-2016-02-28-08h39m38s034


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?”

A changed man (9) A changed man (10)

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... )
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.

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Arthur of the Britons

August 2015

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