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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Longboat (24)

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

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


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

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

The Journey (8)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome (18) Celebration (11)

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

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

In the hut (9)

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

Celebration (29) In the hut (46)

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

Escaping (53)

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

Escaping (79)

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

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

Boy_with_a_Basket_of_Fruit-Caravaggio_(1593) Welcome home (5)

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

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

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

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

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

They took the men Dominic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bertrand de Nivelle

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

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

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

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

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

2 Their sole release, an eponymous EP with four tracks, “Ringing in the Streets”, “Music is...”, “Peace artist”, and “Television television”, was championed by John Peel, and quickly sold out. "Punk 77" described their music as “Tuneful punk with sepulchral vocals and deep growling bass”, and "My Life's a Jigsaw" as “Great garage/DIY punk.” Sean Dromgoole was the vocalist.

Arthur is riding through open country, while Kai follows on foot, leading his lame horse. Arthur knows a blacksmith in a nearby village, who should be able to help, but when they get there, the place seems deserted.

Leaving their horses, Kai and Arthur cautiously approach, split up, and run to scout out different areas. Just as Arthur finds what he identifies as a Saxon shield lying on the ground, an arrow hits Kai in the leg.

Having suffered no great harm, he manages to pull it out, and together they investigate the hut from which the arrow came. They find the archer: a young boy, Frith, whom Arthur knows as Col the Blacksmith’s son.

Frith shot at Kai because he recognised him as a Saxon, but Arthur assures him that Kai is a friend. Col’s wife, Mair, comes out of hiding, and explains that the Saxons raided the village three days ago, and took the men away. She despairs of getting them back, but Arthur is certain that Llud will be able to track them.

Next, Kai and Arthur are seen on the trail, with Llud in the lead. They track the missing men to a quarry, where they are working as slaves, under the supervision of a Saxon foreman, and some guards.

Discipline is harsh. When Col, evidently exhausted, stops to rest, the foreman, Rodolf, gives him a blow with his whip.

Kai wants to go back for reinforcements, to effect a rescue, but Arthur says they are too far into Saxon territory to bring a large force in, and that they already have an army here – the slaves.

So Kai leads Arthur and Llud, roped together, up to Rodolf, and berates him for letting these two Celt slaves escape, and for not getting the work done more quickly.

Rodolf resents having his authority usurped, but seems to accept Kai’s story, that he is a new supervisor, sent by Cerdig. Arthur is taken up the ledge, and shackled at the rock face, not far from Col. The Saxon guard hands Arthur a sledge-hammer. Arthur gives Col a reassuring nod.

Heardred the builder shows Kai the armoury, then lunch is served, both to the Celt slaves, and – by Heardred’s daughter, Thuna – to Heardred, Rodolf, and Kai.

It is clear that both Heardred and Thuna think Rodolf treats the slaves too harshly; Thuna rejects an advance from Rodolf, and goes to sit near Kai.

While a guard watches the slaves from a little way off, Arthur tells Col to spread the word that an escape is being planned.

Once back on the ledge, Col, on the point of collapse, leans against the rock face. Rodolf comes over and delivers another blow with the whip, and Col falls to the ground.

Rodolf prepares to hit him again, but Arthur steps forward and tells Rodolf to leave him.

As Arthur turns back to the cliff face, Rodolf draws back his arm to strike Arthur with the bullwhip, but Arthur, anticipating reprisals for his insubordination, hits Rodolf in the stomach with the handle of his sledgehammer.

Rodolf drops to his knees. Another Saxon pins Arthur against the cliff face with his axe. Rodolf draws a knife, gets up, and comes towards Arthur.

Kai arrives in time to put himself between them. Rodolf want to kill Arthur but Kai says that Cerdig wouldn’t approve of killing a valuable worker. Arthur will be flogged instead, and Kai insists that he be the one to mete out punishment.

Thuna, Heardred, and all the slaves and their guards, watch as Arthur is tied, spread-eagled, to a large rock. While pretending to check that the ropes are secured, Kai has a private word with Arthur. Then he comes down from the platform surrounding the rock, and begins his grim task.

When the flogging is over, the Saxons take Arthur by the arms and drag him away, followed by Heardred and Rodolf. Heardred insists Arthur be put on a bale of hay.

The watching crowd disperses, leaving Kai, standing alone, contemplating the blood on his hand from the whip. Then he realises that Thuna is watching him.

Kai and Llud go to the armoury and set to work concealing weapons inside bales of hay. Kai agonises over what he’s done, but Llud tells him that he had no choice.

That evening, at dinner, Rodolf tells Thuna the slaves will work harder tomorrow, having seen Arthur flogged today. When Rodolf has gone, Thuna berates her father for the cruelty involved in this project.

To the surprise of Llud and the other slaves, gathered around Arthur, Thuna brings a bowl of salve to spread on Arthur’s back. Kai comes to see how Arthur is faring, and is disconcerted to see Thuna there. She says she won’t betray him.

The next day, while work continues, Llud, who is working near the huts, hears a new Supervisor, Ensel, telling Heardred that he has been sent by Cerdig, and that Kai must be an imposter. Thinking quickly, Thuna calls Llud over, and tells him to inform Rodolf.

While Thuna distracts Ensel, Llud hurries off, and tells Kai that they must stage their rebellion right away. Kai orders the Celts to bring fresh hay for their beds, and they start carrying bales, containing hidden weapons, towards the sleeping area.

Ensel goes to find out why Rodolf hasn’t reported to him yet.

Meanwhile, Rodolf comes to see what Kai is doing. Kai tells him the Celts needed fresh bedding if they weren’t to get sick, delaying the work, but Rodolf kicks at the bales, and finds a hidden sword.

High up on the cliff face, Ensel sees what’s happening, and calls out a warning. Arthur throws his sledge-hammer, knocking Ensel off the cliff.

The Celts and Saxons start fighting. During the battle, Kai makes sure he comes face to face with Rodolf, relieves him of his axe, and eventually strangles him with his own whip. The Celts have won.

Arthur, Llud and Kai mount their horses and set off, but Thuna appears, and Kai comes back to bid her farewell. Thuna looks sad as he rides away.

The former slaves walk home to their village, pondering their traumatic experience at the quarry. When they arrive home, Arthur, Kai and Llud ride in, followed by the men they have freed. A happy crowd runs out to greet them.


“The Slaves” comes before “In Common Cause” in the German book and DVDs, entitled “Konig Arthur”, but the settlement at Woollard appears somewhat more substantial and complete in “The Slaves.” Also, botanist Lynn Davy believes the condition of various flowering plants in the two episodes indicates “The Slaves” was filmed after “In Common Cause.” There is one scene near the end of the episode that was filmed much later in the year, when the trees had already lost their leaves.

Going home (13) Going Home 19b

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


Col the Blacksmith’s village is once again the one at Woollard; this time, it has mostly been filmed from the southwest side, and from a distance. The fact that the cast spent so little time there would have given the set dressers the chance to make alterations to it, so that Mordant's armoury could be set there, on the northeast side, the following week.

The impressive cliff face where most of the action takes place is Black Rock Quarry, in Cheddar. This is about 16 miles from Woollard, so you probably wouldn’t have to ride all day and all night to get from one to the other. Further details about the location can be found here.

Cast notes

Col the Blacksmith is played by David Prowse, who was later to appear in “Star Wars” as Darth Vader.

Col’s son Frith – credited as “Dominique Fleming” – is played by one of Patrick Dromgoole’s sons, Dominic, who is now Artistic Director of the Globe Theatre, London. His brother, Sean, who played "Krist" in "The Gift of Life", recalled that Dominic didn’t like the fact that at the end of the episode, he had to be lifted – almost thrown – high in the air by Dave Prowse.

They took the men Dominic

Deborah Watling, who played Thuna, had previously appeared as Victoria Waterfield, Companion to Patrick Troughton’s Doctor, in 40 episodes of Dr Who.

Deboarh Watling300 high Now or never (18)300 high

Ensel was played by stuntman, Jack (“Jackie”) Cooper. He later did stunt work in the film “Going Undercover”, in which Michael Gothard appeared as Strett.

Adrian Cairns, who played Heardred the builder, would later appear in "The Prize" as the Armourer, Ruan.

The best laid plans …

When they find out where the Celt villagers have been taken, Arthur argues that they are too far into Saxon territory to march an army in, and that they have one here already.

Though this works out in the end, it was a bit of a gamble, and they clearly didn’t think things through very well before going in. For a start, Kai should have taken a Saxon, name, but he continues to use his own.

It is pure luck that the building site includes a hut full of weapons for the slaves to use to free themselves – though one might argue that the quarrying tools could also have been used for the purpose.

When Arthur, failing to control his temper, hits Rodolf, he is fortunate that Kai is nearby; Rodolf was ready to kill him on the spot. As it is, he puts Kai in an unenviable position.

And without Thuna’s quick-thinking and complicity, their planned rebellion would have been discovered before it could be put into action.

Celts and Saxons

Mair is keen to stress that the men of her village didn’t give up the fight without killing some of the Saxons.

Arthur states that Saxons don’t usually take prisoners, and when they find out that the men are being used as slaves, Kai worries that the Celts will be made to work until they die. Though Cerdig doesn't appear in this episode, his use of slaves to do his work, and his foreman's treatment of them, casts this usually rather avuncular Saxon leader in a more sinister light, and he evidently has no intention of halting his advance into Celt territory.

The hut full of new weapons that Heardred shows Kai is for a bigger and better Saxon supply base, which will presumably be used to power more extensive incursions into the Celts’ lands, so there is more hanging in the balance than the fate of these particular slaves.

As well as the beatings, the Celt slaves suffer constant abuse from Rodolf, who calls them ‘lazy Celtic dog’, and ‘Celtic pigs’; Kai has to do the same in order to fit in, and it clearly sits ill with him – though not as ill as “restoring Saxon honour” by punishing Arthur.

While Heardred thinks Rodolf goes too far in the way he drives the Celts, he is unwilling to condemn it outright, and tries to justify his involvement: “All across this land, men die in battle, on both sides.” But Thuna can knows that this is different, and does all she can to help the Celts.

At the end, Kai and Thuna bid each other farewell by saying, “Goodbye, Saxon”: perhaps acknowledging that they are both equally disloyal to their own kind.

You’ve got a friend

Arthur is quite mean, making Kai walk all the way when his horse is lame – but having to flog his best friend hurts Kai a lot more.

The hot-headed side-kick

Kai keeps his cool remarkably under the circumstances, though Thuna sees through his act. It is Arthur who has trouble keeping his temper.

Don’t call me old!

Arthur claims that “Llud can follow a trail that’s three months old.” Whether or not he can actually perform such miracles, he does manage to track the slaves to the quarry.

Llud is not so old as to be unaware of Thuna’s charms, visibly holding his stomach in when she calls him over to speak to him! And he gives a good account of himself in the battle.

Dark Age Men

As well as being unpleasantly sadistic, Rodolf is also a bit of a lecher, grabbing the unwilling Thuna round the waist and leering at her, when she accidentally walks into him while serving food.

‘That is bloody dangerous!’

Peter Brayham, who arranged the fights and action, had plenty to do in this episode, with lots of stunts, a new and dangerous environment, and different weaponry deployed.

To start with, Frith uses the only bow and arrow to feature in the series. According to Wikipedia, the first use of a longbow in the British Isles was in AD 633, so – as a relatively new weapon – perhaps that is why we don’t see more of them in the series.

Rodolf uses both a bullwhip and a flogger to punish the slaves, and the Saxons have brought quite a large store of weapons, including axes, swords and spears.

The quarry looks quite hazardous, with the slaves getting dangerously close to some nasty drops, and shoving big rocks off ledges to smash on the ground.

Ensel arrives (7)

Also, the rock on which Arthur is flogged is actually quite steep; the ropes would have been needed to stop him sliding off.

Black Rock 19 Nov 2011 (19)

Stuntman Jack Cooper takes a spectacular fall when Arthur’s sledgehammer hits him. If you look carefully at the fourth picture, you can just make out his sword tumbling through the air!

The fight (2) The fight (6)

The fight (7) The fight (9)

The fight (11) The fight (12)

Great moments

The moment Rodolf sticks the stock of his bullwhip up under Arthur’s chin.

The scene at the rock face where Kai stops Rodolf killing Arthur.

Kai’s exchange with Arthur before the flogging.

The moment Kai sees Thuna tending Arthur.

Heardred’s look of utter confusion when Thuna says she told him she was suspicious of Kai all along.

Kai, strangling Rodolf with his own whip.


Kai: How do you flay a man publicly, and soften the whip?

Thuna: … You’re building your fortress, Father, with human bones.

Dressed to kill?

At the start of the episode, Arthur is wearing his tan tunic, and Kai, the brown suede lace-up shirt and big cloak.

They must have changed their clothes when they went home to collect Llud, because for the rest of the episode, Kai wears his studded tunic with the big fur sash, while Arthur wears his ring armour, and Llud, his studded tunic, until they arrive outside the slave camp. Here, so as to look less like warriors, Arthur and Llud discard their protective clothing, wearing just their undershirts when Kai brings them in as captives.

After that, Arthur and Llud spend most of the episode stripped to the waist, like the rest of the slaves.

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

Arthur is once again riding Skyline, and Llud is on Curly as usual. Kai’s horse, who is lame at the start of the episode, is Pythagoras. Despite there being no blacksmith at Col’s village, he rides the same horse for a day and a night, to get to the quarry! Presumably, when they went back to fetch Llud, their own blacksmith was able to deal with Pythagoras' problem.

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

On the table

The Celts are being fed some kind of unappetising porridge that looks like wet cotton wool. Perhaps the Saxons have put Milo Minderbinder1 in charge of food supplies.

Slave lunch (8) Lunch (23)

Meanwhile, Heardred, Rodolf and Kai sit at Heardred’s dinner table, with more nutritious looking platters of bread and meat, and the usual enormous bunch of grapes.

Extra! Extra!

There are a lot of students – in an impressive array of different coloured leggings – working at the quarry. Even though they were only acting the part of slaves, they look as if they actually had to work quite hard, and could do with a few good meals!

Honourable mention

For the un-credited star of the show: Black Rock Quarry itself – still a very impressive location.

Black Rock 19 Nov 2011 (18)

Secondly, for this extra, for whom things got a bit too real!

“Night night, Kiddies!”

Yet another very serious and angst-ridden episode, considering this was nominally a children’s TV show: slaves under the command of a sadistic foreman, and one of our heroes having to give the other – who is also his best friend – twenty lashes. Kai, strangling Rodolf, is the icing on the cake.

What’s going on here?

Arthur calls out Col’s name, when still quite a distance from the village; surely it would have been more normal to go up to the village, and ask whether he was at home!

There are sounds of thunder at the start of the episode, but no thunder clouds in the sky, from which not a drop of water falls. More ‘pathetic fallacy thunder’ rolls, as Arthur is about to be flogged.

Arthur finds a shield lying on the ground, and says, “Saxons”, as if it were of obvious Saxon design; but it doesn’t look much different to the one he used when fighting Mark of Cornwall in “Arthur is Dead.”

Deserted village (44) Arthur vs Mark (51)

Given that “Kai, the Saxon who rides with Arthur” is well-known among the Saxons – enough so, that one of their minstrels sings of him, and Cerdig knows all about him – it seems incredible that the Saxons at the quarry don't immediately recognise him. Thuna seems to be the only one who sees what’s going on; it makes one wonder whether she were already a secret admirer of Kai's!

As a builder, Heardred hasn’t got much work done, though he seems very pleased with his plumb-line, telling Kai, “Yes, the Romans used this principle”!

Headred explains (6)

He tells Ensel “You don’t seem to understand the problems that I have building here. Why, only a few days ago none of this rock was ready.” It has to be said that none of it looks especially “ready” now. It’s just lying about in big untidy piles.


In this scene, you can see what looks suspiciously like a hole for dynamite.

As Arthur starts work, we see the rock on which he will be flogged, being made ready. Later, it has a platform around two sides. It’s almost as if they knew at once that he was going to cause trouble ...

Arthur starts work The flogging (37)

But he is flogged lying on his front. So when they pick him up to drag him away afterwards, why is he lying on his back?

The aftermath

And how does Kai manage to get blood on his axe halfway through the fight, without it ever having touched Rodolf?

The Fight (66) The Fight (92)

The fight scene ends very abruptly; one minute it is in full swing, and the next, our heroes are mounting up to ride away. The scene that immediately follows the fight – with the possible exception of the close-up of Thuna – was filmed much later.

Perhaps what with filming at the rather dangerous quarry location, on different levels, with lots of extras, and stunts, the crew simply ran out of time, and had to move on to the next episode. The unusual montage of the men walking home, contemplating their time in captivity, inter-cut with shots of the deserted quarry, with the shouts of the slaves and their captors as a soundtrack, might also have been put together later, to make up for a missing transition scene.

Going home (27) Going home (26)


Some of the music tracks used in this episode were:

Track 7, Hesitation and Achievement: the young archer is found.
Track 6, Infiltration and Treachery: they see the quarry for the first time, and Kai takes charge.
Track 10, Desolation and Despair: the midday meal.
Track 26, Evil Stirs: the slaves go back to work.
Track 30, Night Scene: Arthur’s dragged away after being flogged.
Track 13, In All Weathers: Thuna brings salve, and the slaves return to work next morning.
Track 26, Evil Stirs: Ensel arrives; it's now or never.
Track 12, Duel: The Celts fight for their freedom.
Track 17, Pensive Moment: "Goodbye, Saxon."
Track 29, Pastoral Episode: the former slaves arrive back at their village.

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
Rodolf ………........... Anthony Bailey
Heardred ………..….. Adrian Cairns
Col ….…………....… Dave Prowse
Thuna …………….… Deborah Watling
Frith …………….….. Dominique Fleming
Mair ………………... Karin MacCarthy
Ensel ……………….. Jackie Cooper


Director ………….…. Pat Jackson
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 ……………….. Dave Samuel-Camps
Sound recordist ……... Mike Davey
Dubbing mixer ……… John Cross
Art Director …………. Doug James
Assistant Director …… Keith Knott
Production Assistant … Patti Belcher
Costume Design .……. Audrey MacLeod
Make-up …………….. Christine Penwarden
Incidental music …….. Paul Lewis
Theme music ………... Elmer Bernstein

1 Milo Minderbinder was a corrupt mess officer in Joseph Heller’s “Catch 22”, who sold off US Army Air Corps food supplies for a profit, and tried to persuade the men to eat cotton, which he had bought on the cheap, and was unable to offload.
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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Arthur of the Britons

August 2015

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