Farewell fair Jason! The buff young hero of Atlantis will be hanging up his loincloth tonight and his successor has yet to be announced. Here’s a radical idea 3000 years after Jason’s fabled adventures: what if the hero of the next Saturday night offering were a heroine? Crazy? Certainly unprecedented since the dawn of BBC1’s mytho-dramas supposedly suitable for all the family.
Cast your mind back to Atlantis’ predecessor: much-loved Merlin, which for five series chronicled the exploits of the Arthurian wizard in his teenage years (Colin Morgan back when he had sticky-out ears). Before Merlin’s time, viewers swooned over the capers of another stubbly youth: Robin Hood (Jonas Armstrong, most recently spied rubbing shoulders with Tom Cruise in Hollywood blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow).
Yes, there were some fabulous females sharing the screen with those fresh-faced legends but they usually fell into two categories: not so much Madonna/whore as comely catch/scheming villain-lady. So Atlantis boasts a Machiavellian Pasiphae and Ariadne the princess, whose tiara caught Jason’s eye before the sun had set on the first episode. (The exception to the rule is Medusa: who was enchanted into falling in lust with Hercules, doubtless her comeuppance for occasionally getting a slice of the action).
Back in the age of Merlin, Arthur landed Guinevere – the eye candy – while Katie McGrath earned many an admirer for her magnificently villainous Morgana. (Now that would have been a spin-off.) Poor old Robin Hood didn’t even get a scheming villain-lady: he had to make do with pouty Marian.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing if next time you sought respite from Strictly or The X Factor, there were a female warrior flexing her muscles and making eyes at a pretty prince? There’s no need to trawl the mythology books for prime candidates – a one-minute Wikipedia gander turns up a gaggle of heroines who actually lived and breathed:
1. Boudicca. The original Braveheart led her tribe of Celts in a bloody rebellion against the Romans. A ginger hero? Now that would be groundbreaking.
2. Khutulun, Mongolian warrior princess. Yes, a warrior and a princess. Now ears are pricking up…
3. Joan of Arc. The stake-burning finale would have to be post-watershed.
4. Mai Bagho, a Sikh Joan of Arc.
5. Tomoe Gozen, samurai warrior with a penchant for beheading her enemies. Possibly also a post-watershed affair.
I know what you’re thinking: Xena the warrior princess. While it’s true whip-wielding, leather-clad, practically soft porn Xena is not the heroine I had in mind, I’d take her over yet another hero. Jason, it’s high time you moved over and let a woman strut her stuff.