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.


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.

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“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


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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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 ...

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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.


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.

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She then appears at the door again, with Rowena.

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“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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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!


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.


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


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


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.



Read more... )
Episode 2.3: The Prisoner

Writer: Robert Banks Stewart


A Celtic warrior is standing watch, within view of Arthur’s village. He sees an escaping Saxon stagger from hiding, fall, and then run across an open space, back to cover.

Celt watchman: [mouths] Hey …

He blows a horn to summon help.

The Saxon, Roland, clearly wounded, leans against a fallen tree, gets his breath back, looks at his injured hand, then tries to move on.

Kai canters up to the Celt watchman.

Kai: What is it?

Celt watchman: Down there. I saw … saw a Saxon run into those trees.

Kai: Only one?

Celt watchman: Yeah.

Kai: I’ll deal with him.

Kai goes down a slope in the direction the Celt watchman indicated.

Roland continues his laboured progress through the trees.

The Celt watchman looks on as Kai dismounts at the edge of the wood. Kai takes his axe from in front of his saddle, and goes in among the trees.

Roland continues his halting progress.

Kai leans against the same fallen tree and finds Roland’s blood on his hand. He continues his pursuit up a wooded slope.

Roland runs down the other side of the hill, and comes out into the open. He reaches a small river, looks back, and sees Kai emerging from the trees.

They meet on open ground. Roland throws his axe at Kai, and misses. Roland runs; Kai follows and brings him down with a trip and a push. He is about to despatch Roland with his axe, but stops, and examines a medallion he has seen around Roland’s neck.



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Episode 1.10: The Slaves

Writer: Robert Banks Stewart


In open country. Sounds of thunder. Arthur is on horseback. Kai, who is leading his horse, stops to look at one of its hooves. Arthur rides back to him.

Arthur: I’ve got some news that’ll take the ache out of those feet of yours.

Kai: You gonna let me ride your horse for a while?

Arthur: There’s a village over that last ridge. Col, the blacksmith there’ll take care of your horse.

Arthur rides on until he is in sight of the village.

Arthur: [shouts] Col!

There is no answer; the village looks deserted. Kai catches up to Arthur, and they approach the village cautiously. Arthur dismounts and they go in on foot. One of the horses whinnies, warning of their approach, so they split up and run to scout out different areas. There’s no one around. Arthur finds a shield lying on the ground, and lifts the edge with his foot.

Arthur: Saxons.

An arrow hits Kai’s leg.

Kai: Ach!

Arthur draws his sword and ducks down. Kai pulls the arrow out.

Arthur: [whispers urgently] Kai!

Kai: I’m alright.

They run to the hut from which the arrow came, go in, Kai through the door and Arthur through the window, and find the archer: a small boy, Frith.



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This fascinating glimpse into the early planning stages of "Arthur of the Britons" was kindly supplied by Paul Lewis, who preserved the article.

HTV to spend £1/2 m on King Arthur series

HTV West is to spend more than £500,000 one a new adventure series, a 24-part saga devoted to the exploits of King Arthur.

The story of the West Country’s own legendary hero will be filmed on the locations actually associated with Arthur, among them Cadbury Camp, the reputed site of Camelot, and holy Glastonbury.

Filming will begin in June.

“This is a very exciting project by any standards and reflects our confidence in the production team, led by Patrick Dromgoole, we have created at Bristol,” said managing director Tony Gorard last week.

The series will be done by the same team who produced the 13-part series, Pretenders, and the play Thick as Thieves, which was the winner of the Royal Television Society’s “Pye Oscar” as the best regional production of the year.

HTV has found an American distributor, Heritage Enterprises, for the new series. Mr Arthur Steloff, of Heritage, said, “There is enormous interest in a programme based on King Arthur and I am confident we can achieve world-wide sales.”

Lord Harlech, Chairman of HTV said, “The series will be as historically authentic as we can make it. Arthur was a young and powerful fighter who fought savagely and successfully to defend the remnants of Roman Britain against the invading Saxons.”

“We are tearing up the cosy Victorian water-colour picture of Arthur and showing instead the hard tough cavalry leader he must really have been,” he added.

The series will show how Arthur moulded the splintered British tribes into the force that repelled barbarian invaders bent on conquest, and moulded still more – the shape of a kingdom to come.

The role of Arthur will be played by Oliver Tobias, star of the London production of Hair. Michael Gothard, well-known for his appearance in The Last Valley and in Ken Russell’s The Devils plays Kai, a loyal follower of the King.

Jack Watson who starred in Pretenders is cast as Ludd The Silver Handed, a powerful Celtic warrior who rides as Arthur’s right hand. Merlin will be played by Maurice Evans.

Peter Miller is the producer and his team includes Roy Baird, the executive producer for Women In Love, Henry VIII and If.

Writers engaged include Terence Feely, Robert Banks Stewart, Jack Seddon, David Purcell, Stuart Douglas and Bob Baker and Dave Martin the Bristol playwrights responsible for both Pretender and Thick As Thieves.

It is interesting that at this stage, they were still referring to Arthur as "King Arthur", though he is never referred to as such in the series. Also interesting is the fact that nowhere is it stated that the series is for children, though in the UK, it was shown late afternoon, when children would be watching after school.

Early plans to film at sites connected with the little we know, or think we know, of the historical Arthur - including Cadbury Camp and Glastonbury - must have been abandoned at an early stage.

Also abandoned was Merlin, whom the article says was to be played by Maurice Evans - Dr Zaius in "Planet of the Apes"(1968). As Patrick Dromgoole has said: "It was difficult to stick to a realistic theme of an available gang of pro-British professional soldiers available where needed, without losing the mystical aspects of Merlin."

£500,000 was a great deal of money to spend on such a series at the time, so it isn't surprising that selling it to foreign networks was a high priority. This plan came to fruition, with "Arthur of the Britons" being shown, in various forms, sometimes under a different name, and either dubbed or subtitled, in France ("Arthur, Roi des Celtes"), Germany ("Konig Arthur"), Spain ("Arturo de Bretaña"), many Eastern European countries, Australia, the USA ("King Arthur") and South America ("El Rey de los Guerreros").

TV Today 15 June 1972 small


Arthur of the Britons

August 2015

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