[personal profile] arthur_of_the_britons

The episode opens with Arthur and Kai traipsing through a waterlogged yard, in the middle of winter, bringing supplies to the longhouse from an outdoor store-shed. They then compete with Llud for “who fetches the mead” by throwing knives at a target board, while discussing Kai’s success at bedding one of the village girls, on whom Arthur also had his eye. Then Arthur’s aim is spoiled by his anger at a rival Celtic chieftain, Bavick, who often raids the villages of other Celts; Arthur vows to “split his head in two.”

In the next scene, set in summer, Arthur, Kai, and some of their men are out riding when they spot a party of armed Celts, whom Arthur mistakenly takes for Bavick’s men. Before joining battle, Arthur and Kai chase down a riderless horse they have spotted. They are then almost attacked by another local leader, Tugram, who takes them for Bavick’s men. Bavick recently attacked and burned Tugram’s village, and took all the women.

They notice Bavick’s daughter jumping out of a tree, and Arthur sends Kai to take her prisoner – a task he sets about with gusto.

Back at the longhouse, Arthur has a discussion with their captive, whose name is Eithna. He learns that Bavick is a doting father, and is a man who keeps his word. He tells Tugram and Kai that he intends to extract a promise from Bavick, not to attack other Celts, in exchange for the safe return of his daughter. Hearing this, Eithna rushes out and attacks Arthur, who cuts off a lock of her hair. Llud sets off – with the lock of hair – to negotiate with Bavick.

The next morning, Arthur tells Eithna to go to the lake to bathe, and put on a dress. When she refuses, he throws her over his shoulder, carries her down, and pitches her into the lake.

Bavick takes Llud captive, and refuses to consider the terms offered until his daughter is returned.

Meanwhile, Kai finds Eithna preening by the lakeside, and they discuss Arthur’s philosophy. Kai is just putting into practice Eithna’s opposing philosophy – “You should know what you want, and take it” – when a messenger arrives from Bavick, demanding the return of Eithna as a fair exchange for Llud.

Eithna tells Arthur he is weak for using a woman as a hostage, and also for giving in, rather than killing her. Arthur explains that he is trying to stop the cycle of violence.

Arthur and his men go to exchange prisoners with Bavick, but as Llud crosses paths with Eithna, he snatches her from her horse, and once again takes her prisoner.

Bavick sends word that he agrees to Arthur’s terms: a promise of peace for the safe return of Eithna. Eithna tells Arthur she wants to stay in his village, but Arthur insists that she return home. At the celebratory feast, Eithna tells Kai, “You could be of service to me.”

The next morning, apparently after a night of passion, Kai tells Arthur that he and Eithna want to be together; she is staying with him. Arthur and Kai fight fiercely, and Arthur ends up pulling a knife, but when Kai says, “you want her!” he slowly lowers it. Eithna is pleased, seeing the fight as proof that Arthur is attracted to her. She returns home.

In the final scene, Arthur and Kai are both brooding over their fight. Llud hands Kai two horns of wine, one of which Kai throws in Arthur’s face. He gives the other to Arthur, who responds in kind. Their quarrel is over.


“Daughter of the King” was first shown on 7 November 1973, as part of Season 2, but – apart from the knife-throwing scene at the beginning – the episode was filmed in July 1972 by Peter Sasdy. For some unknown reason, the knife-throwing scene had to be re-shot in November 1972. If the post-production work on the episode was not finished, this may explain why the episode was shown so far out of order. Also, HTV may not have wanted to show two episodes where Arthur and Kai have a big fight (the other being “The Challenge”) so close together.

Suggested shooting order so far

Arthur is Dead
Daughter of the King


The version of Arthur’s village seen throughout most of this episode is the one by the lake at Woodchester Park, near Stroud, in Gloucestershire.

The knife-throwing scene was filmed in the village location built at Woodborough Mill Farm in Woollard, after the whole production was moved there from Woodchester.1

The location of the scenes where Arthur’s men meet Tugram’s and Bavick's, and of Bavick’s palisaded village has not yet been established.

Cast notes

Madeleine Hinde, who played Eithna in this episode, had worked with Michael Gothard only a couple of years before, on “The Last Valley.” In this epic film, Michael played Hansen, one of a band of mercenaries, who tries to rape Madeleine’s character, Inge.

Hansen and Inge small

Tony Steedman, who played Tugram, was later seen as Wolfie’s dad in “Citizen Smith”, and as Socrates in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”


We also see an early performance by Iain Cuthbertson, almost unrecognisable as Bavick.

Inside Information

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

When Arthur gives Eithna her impromptu bath, the Lady of the Lake becomes the Lady in the Lake. Of Arthur and Kai’s fight over Eithna, Patrick Dromgoole said: “The jealousy of Arthur and Kai over Eithna is a common dramatic triangle, as in the original Malory.”

Dark Age Men

Bavick, the villain of the week, is depicted as rapacious; Tugram complains, “They took our women away!” and complains to Arthur, “You’re being very protective with Bavick’s whelp. Is he being as tender with the women he took from our villages?”

But Kai also treats Eithna as a spoil of war. He seems to expect that Arthur will ravish her, and if Arthur isn’t interested, Kai is ready to try his luck, though he doesn’t seem to mind when she puts up a fight. “A wildcat! I like that.”

When Eithna is captured, she is wearing breeches, but Arthur demands to know: “Do you ever dress like a woman?” To encourage her to put on a dress, he – very childishly – humiliates her, by throwing her into the lake. Why he cares so much about his enemy’s daughter’s attire is never explained, but Kai is pleased with the result: “Arthur’s done well with you in my absence.”

Kai and Arthur's seeming rivalry over Eithna was foreshadowed in the opening scene, where they banter about their competition for Leesa’s favour, and by the minstrel's song: "Let not a woman’s guiles and wiles, quiet smiles, blind your eyes." In the end, they don't let it spoil their friendship.

The burden of command

In the opening scene, Arthur quickly switches from joking about Kai’s latest conquest to the problem of Bavick – from the private to the political. His responsibilities as a leader are never far from his mind. Later, we see that Arthur even thinks twice about giving up his hostage to save Llud’s life, so intent is he on achieving peace among the Celts.

Arthur’s wisdom

Once again, the episode focuses on how tired Arthur is, of “the bloody business of Celt killing Celt.” When Eithna accuses Arthur of being weak, he says: “Not weak – practical. If I’d killed you, your father would have sought vengeance. All your death would have achieved is more death.” When he finally secures Bavick’s promise, he says “I’ll drink to anything that brings peace between the Celts without shedding a single drop of blood.”

The hot-headed side-kick

There has still been no mention of why Kai, who looks like a Saxon, is living among the Celts. Eithna has evidently noticed that there's something different about him, because she asks him why he stays with Arthur. Perhaps the writers hadn’t yet worked out how their principal characters were connected.

Kai tends to agree with Eithna, that “a warrior settles his arguments with the sword”, and talking is “for women and old men”, but he says he is staying with Arthur to find out who is right.

Nevertheless, Kai’s loyalty to Llud is not in doubt; when Bavick takes Llud hostage, to exchange for Eithna, Kai says, “Llud’s life for a dream? Why are you hesitating?”

But at this point, Kai is still pulling against Arthur; he is prepared to put his leader's peace plan at risk, for the sake of his attraction to Eithna.

Don’t call me old!

Llud seems to have been based on a legendary hero from Welsh mythology, the source of king Lud from Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain.

Llud’s prosthetic hand is mentioned for the first time, during the knife-throwing scene. “Your aim is off, Kai. I could do better with my silver hand.” Bavick also refers to it: “You are the silver-handed, eh? … the warrior who is always at Arthur’s side.”

The best laid plans ...

Arthur’s decision to allow Llud to go to Bavick’s camp as his negotiator is inexplicable, and has a predictable result: Llud is taken hostage. However, Llud’s recapture of Eithna is masterful.

When Arthur and Kai fight, Eithna thinks her plan – to find out Arthur’s feelings for her by taking Kai to bed – has worked, but she fails to appreciate how much Arthur’s primary aim, of stopping the Celts fighting each other, means to him.

"A man on a horse is worth ten on foot"

It is in “Daughter of the King” that Arthur uses the phrase that is the title of this section. He considers horses so important that he catches one that is running loose before even thinking of taking on what he thinks is a group of enemy fighters.

He challenges Eithna over her use of a horse: “Horses are worth their weight in any metal. They’re for soldiers. Yet your father lets his children ride.” He sees this as evidence that Bavick values her very much, and spoils her – which makes her a useful hostage.

During this episode, Arthur mostly rides Skyline; Eithna’s loose horse, which he catches by riding alongside it and scrambling across onto its back, is Jim.

Kai rides Merlin, a large black or brown horse with a wide irregular blaze and snip. Llud rides Curly, a chestnut horse with a very wide blaze with a curl at the top left. This, his usual mount, is not the horse he rides in the credits.

Tugram rides a black horse with an irregular blaze of variable width, and wide triangular snip, “Pythagoras.”

When Kai stops to talk to Eithna by the lake, he dismounts in an unconventional manner, by swinging his right leg over his horse’s neck. This method has the advantages of looking good, and of allowing the rider to keep their eyes facing the front. Arthur often dismounts this way, but Kai only does it when he is trying to impress.

Bavick is seen riding two bay horses, “Charlie”, and “James.” Among the horses Arthur's men are riding are “Blondie” (Dirk’s horse in the first episode), Arthur’s grey horse, Bernie, and a large chestnut with an irregular blaze, “Flame.”

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

"By the Gods!"

Bavick brings up religion: “The monks say, ‘an eye for an eye.’”

Arthur’s banner – a red cross on a white background – is visible once again.

Kai tells Arthur: “if a man and a woman want to be together, they will be together. That’s the law”, but it isn’t clear whether this is a religious or civil matter.

A wager’s a wager

Arthur, Kai and Llud are seen competing for who gets sent to fetch the supplies. Llud evidently won the last round, sending Arthur and Kai out to the store shed. This time, Kai loses out again.

"That is bloody dangerous!"

Arthur has to jump from one horse to another. Kai gets to brandish his axe – “the only thing Bavick understands” – at both Tugram and Eithna.

Eithna jumps to the ground from the bough of a tree. She pulls a knife on Kai, but it isn’t taken away from her when she is captured, and she later attacks Arthur with it. She also scratches Arthur’s face with her nails.

Llud grabs Eithna off her horse, and rides back to Arthur with her dangling by his side.

Arthur raises his sword to salute Bavick, and Bavick does likewise. Both Bavick’s and Tugram’s men are armed with spears.

Near the end of the episode, Kai and Arthur fight, landing on fishing baskets, and breaking a trestle table, and Arthur pulls a knife on Kai. After that, Arthur and Kai both attack innocent pieces of furniture – Kai with his knife, and Arthur with his sword.

Dressed to kill?

The green shirt Llud is wearing in the knife-throwing scene didn’t appear in Llud’s wardrobe until about November – another clue that the scene was filmed later than the rest of the episode, for most of which he is wearing his studded tunic over a white shirt.

As well as his women, Bavick seems to have stolen all of Tugram’s shirts, because the poor chap spends most of the episode with bare arms and chest, covered only by a leather jerkin.

Kai wears a blue shirt in the the knife-throwing scene, and puts on two furry jackets, including one with huge sleeves, to go outside. For most of the episode he is wearing his studded tunic.

Arthur has a selection of clothes: a tunic with a hood, a brown tunic with light brown trim, and – from the first episode – his ring armour, and yellowish-tan tunic. During the knife-throwing scene, he wears a sleeveless sheepskin jacket, also seen in "The Wood People."

On the table

Kai brings a dead stag in from the store house. This stag also features in “The Gift of Life” and “The Penitent Invader”, but we never see anyone eating it! Arthur carries a sack of what is presumably grain, and Llud demands mead.

At the first feast, after the capture of Eithna, Llud seems to be eating lettuce, though he also has a choice of apples and what might be medlars; one of the extras is eating a chicken leg.

Arthur and Eithna have a whole chicken between them, a big bowl of apples and grapes, some bread, and what looks like raw turnips. Arthur eats two fish, one after the other.

Later, Eithna has bread, meat and apples, and eats grapes in a desultory manner.

At the last feast – after Bavick capitulates, there is a whole dead piglet on the table, and Llud starts up a raucous chant, “Wine! Wine! Wine!”

Great moments

The opening scene: a wonderful glimpse at how Arthur, Kai and Llud spend their spare time.

Eithna’s reaction after Kai offers to help her pass the “long, tedious night ahead” – “My thanks, but I should not want the night to be any longer, or more tedious, than necessary.”

Arthur and Kai’s fight, and their reconciliation, by soaking each other with wine.


Arthur: A man on a horse is worth ten on foot.

Kai: Every man should enjoy his last night alive.

Extra! Extra!

The extras do a good job of getting on with things in the background while their leaders are concerned with matters of consequence.

Honourable mention …

… for the stunt chicken who rushes out of the path of Llud’s horse.

"Night-night, Kiddies!"2

In the first scene, when Arthur and Kai joke about their rivalry over Leesa, Arthur makes a Chaucerian sexual innuendo: “Which one of her three eyes did she use, eh?”

This is unlikely to have been understood by most of the demographic at which the series purported to be aimed!

What’s going on here?

In the opening scene, where Kai traipses through the water, he is wearing his furry boot covers over Wellington boots.

During the scene where Arthur catches the loose horse belonging to Eithna, the camera cuts away before he has successfully got onto the second horse’s back; he may not actually have made it!

What was Eithna doing in a tree?

It’s unlikely that Arthur would have been able to get hold of big bunches of grapes, like the one at which Eithna was seen picking.

At the beginning of the scene where Arthur meets Bavick to exchange prisoners, Bavick is riding Charlie, but after his daughter has been recaptured, he is sitting on James. Why has he commandeered his adviser's horse?

Exchange and recapture (12) Exchange and recapture (26)

We never do find out whether Tugram’s men get their women back!


As Arthur’s minstrel, folk artist Meic Stevens sings, and plays the lyre.

Some of the 34 tracks of incidental music, beautifully written and orchestrated for the series by Paul Lewis, used in this episode, were:

Track 21, Celtic Bard: Arthur and Kai bring supplies from the store
Track 33, Springtime: Kai goes to bring in the barrel of mead.
Track 10, Battle on Horseback: Arthur’s men ride across the countryside, and Kai chases Eithna.
Track 16, Danger Mounts: Arthur and his men discuss how to deal with Bavick; Eithna attacks.
Track 8, Kai the Saxon: Llud rides off to negotiate with Bavick
Track 22, Revelry: Arthur throws Eithna in the lake.
Track 20, The Fair Rowena: Eithna preens by the lake.
Track 30: Night Scene: Arthur hears that Bavick has accepted his terms
Track 3, Celtic Horns: They go to make the exchange with Bavick
Track 10, Battle on Horseback: Arthur and Kai fight.
Track 30: Night Scene: Arthur and Kai resolve their differences.

The whole suite of music, written by Paul Lewis, is available on CD.


Arthur ……………... Oliver Tobias
Kai .….….….….…... Michael Gothard
Llud ………………... Jack Watson
Bavick ……………... Iain Cuthbertson
Eithna ……………… Madeleine Hinde
Tugram ……………. Tony Steedman
Minstrel ……...……. Meic Stevens
Treg ………………...Timothy Kightley
Horseman …………. Colin Fisher


Executive Producer .... Patrick Dromgoole
Producer ……………. Peter Miller
Director …………….. Peter Sasdy
Story ………………... David Pursall and Jack Seddon
Associate Producer …. John Peverall
Production Manager ... Keith Evans
Fight Arranger ….…... Peter Brayham
Post-production …….. Barry Peters
Cameraman ……….... Bob Edwards
Camera Operator ….... Roger Pearce
Film Editing ……….... Don Llewellyn
Sound recordist …….. Mike Davey
Dubbing Mixer ……... John Cross
Art Direction ….……. Doug James
Assistant Director …... Simon Hinkley
Production Assistant ... Ann Rees
Wardrobe ……..…….. Audrey MacLeod
Make-up ….….……... Christine Penwarden
Incidental music …….. Paul Lewis
Theme music ………... Elmer Bernstein

1 The production was moved after about a month, as it became too expensive to transport the cast and crew from Bristol to Woodchester each day.

2 Another of Director, Sid Hayers’ catch-phrases.
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Arthur of the Britons

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