The Last Kingdom has started shooting its much-anticipated fifth season, with the production implementing new safety protocols to minimise the risks posed by coronavirus.
The Last Kingdom star Alexander Dreymon broke the news in a Q&A with RadioTimes.com, to celebrate the launch of the final book in Bernard Cornwell’s series of novels: War Lord.
“We’re going to start shooting towards the end of this year under very strict COVID-19 guidelines, of course,” he said. “We’re very lucky to be able to work at the moment.”
The upcoming season will be based on the ninth and tenth books in Cornwell’s epic saga, titled Warriors of the Storm and The Flame Bearer, which follows an older Uhtred as he endures his “greatest loss”.
Dreymon added: “I think he starts at 54 and ends up at 60 in the books. That’s a problem right now because how do we make it look like Uhtred has aged without it looking comical? We’re working on it.”
Fans wishing to know more may want to read The Last Kingdom books in order, which will give them an idea what to expect prior to the next episodes dropping.
While there is likely to be a while longer to wait before fans can dive into the fifth season, the team behind The Last Kingdom is giving fans plenty of treats to pour over on social media.
At the end of last year, the season five cast teamed up to put their own The Last Kingdom-inspired spin on ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas – more on that below.
Here’s all your essential information on The Last Kingdom season five.
When is The Last Kingdom season 5 release date?
CONFIRMED: The Last Kingdom is returning for a fifth season on Netflix, which will continue the story of Uhtred of Bebbanburg during England’s early years.
Executive producer Nigel Marchant said: “We are really proud of The Last Kingdom, which continues to entertain audiences all over the world. We had such a tremendous response to the last season, so are thrilled to be bringing it back for season five on Netflix. With such a loyal fanbase, we’re excited to give viewers a chance to follow Uhtred on the next stage of his quest.”
ICYMI: The Last Kingdom is coming back for a fifth season ⚔️????️????????
— Netflix UK & Ireland (@NetflixUK) July 16, 2020
There’s no official word yet on when The Last Kingdom season five will be released, but we do know that the crew intends to start filming before the end of the year.
If work runs smoothly, then it’s possible that the series will be able to stick roughly to its usual 18-month production cycle, suggesting a possible release date in late 2021 or early 2022.
The series announced its return in a video on its social media profiles, featuring star Alexander Dreymon telling his colleagues the good news.
Who will be in the cast of The Last Kingdom season 5?
There are few confirmed details about who is returning for season five, but we do know that Alexander Dreymon will be returning to lead The Last Kingdom cast once more as Uhtred of Bebbanburg.
Check out our article on The Last Kingdom’s real history for more information on how Uhtred’s story ties in with factual events and royal figures.
Emily Cox is also likely to reprise her role as Uhtred’s childhood friend-turned-nemesis Brida, who was last seen giving birth alone in the woods.
Mark Rowley, Ewan Mitchell and Arnas Fedaravičius have become real fan favourites as Uhtred’s loyal allies, so here’s hoping that they stay by his side for many more adventures to come.
On the viking side, Haesten (Jeppe Beck Laursen) is still alive against all odds, while Sigtryggr (Eysteinn Sigurðarson) has partnered up with Uhtred’s daughter, Stiorra (Ruby Hartley).
In Winchester, season four left the Saxon royals in a state of turmoil, so expect to see more of Timothy Innes as King Edward, Millie Brady as Lady Aethelflaed and possibly Eliza Butterworth as Lady Aelswith (more on that below).
Adrian Schiller has confirmed he will be reprising his role as the cruel and devious Aethelhelm, but isn’t optimistic that he’ll make it out of the next season alive.
Many of these actors appeared in the aforementioned video celebrating the season five renewal, which suggests they will indeed be reprising their roles.
The Last Kingdom season five could even have one major celebrity cameo, as fellow Netflix star Ricky Gervais has repeatedly expressed his love for the epic series.
In June, he tweeted to the show’s official Twitter account, dressing up in his best Viking costume and saying: “Hurry up with the next season and send me to Valhalla!”
Given that Gervais has plenty of contacts at Netflix from making his hit comedy series After Life, it isn’t impossible that he could get a fun cameo in the next batch of episodes.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) June 21, 2020
A video shared to social media on Christmas Eve 2020 seems to give an idea of which cast members will return for season five, with Dreymon, Cox, Butterworth, Innes, Brady, Hartley, Schiller and Sigurðarson among the familiar faces who took part.
The clip puts a distinct The Last Kingdom-inspired spin on the classic festive poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas (also known as A Visit From St Nicholas).
The Last Kingdom season 5 theories
Season five will consist of another 10 episodes on Netflix, based on books nine and ten of The Saxon Stories: Warriors of the Storm and The Flame Bearer.
The official synopsis says: “The fifth instalment will see Uhtred realise his destiny is more than just Bebbanburg: it is tied to the future of England itself. Charged with training King Edward’s first-born son Aethelstan as a warrior, Uhtred’s ambition will have an even higher purpose. But to achieve this destiny, Uhtred will have to face down his greatest enemy and suffer his greatest loss.”
Fans will no doubt be concerned about who or what Uhtred could lose in the season to come, as the show hasn’t been afraid to kill off beloved characters in the past.
In addition to this, we expect to see more on the developing relationship between Uhtred’s daughter Stiorra and enigmatic Viking warrior Sigtryggr, who appear to have formed a genuine connection under unlikely circumstances.
Where season four saw the Saxons and Danes broker a fragile peace, expect that to be disrupted before too long, with the introduction of yet another formidable warlord: Ragnall Ivarson.
That said, don’t expect The Last Kingdom to follow those novels to the letter, as the Netflix adaptation has been known to make major changes to The Last Kingdom books.
For example, in Cornwell’s stories, Eadith becomes Uhtred’s lover, but the series has instead planted a romantic subplot between herself and his charming ally, Finan. Let’s hope there’s not a love triangle on the cards!
Executive producer Nigel Marchant gave RadioTimes.com an insight into where the plot could go next: “I think we want to tell the story of these separate kingdoms coming together and how that union happens, and also does Uhtred get back to Bebbanburg? Does he get his dream? Does he find his legacy? And what’s his involvement in bringing these kingdoms together?”
Is Aelswith alive?
One of the biggest mysteries left hanging at the end of season four is whether Aelswith survives her poisoning at the hands of the treacherous Aethelhelm.
Eliza Butterworth, who has played Aelswith since season one, told RadioTimes.com: “It was really exciting to play her in those more sensitive sides, not only emotionally but also now physically, we really see her completely unravelling and becoming so weak.
“And those around her feeling complete and utter sympathy and realising that they do need her around. It’s quite sad to maybe see her go, so we don’t know.”
In the celebratory video shared to The Last Kingdom’s social media channels, the cast seemed similarly uncertain about the fate of Aelswith in season five.
Alexander Dreymon says: “Big caveat though: we don’t even know if you’re going to be alive, Eliza.”
“I have a feeling I might not be,” she replies.
It looks like we’ll have to wait and see whether Aelswith pulls through, but Uhtred does seem confident in the season four finale that she has the strength to survive.
Is there any behind-the-scenes content?
Fans looking for a fix of The Last Kingdom while they wait for details about season five should head over to the show’s official YouTube channel, which features numerous videos with the cast and crew.
Get a glimpse into a typical day for the likes of Alexander Dreymon, Mark Rowley and Emily Cox, or get an insight into the show’s impressive fight choreography and costume design.
The channel is also home to video editions of The Last Kingdom podcast, which features plenty of jokes between co-hosts Dreymon, Rowley and Arnas Fedaravičius.
In addition, if you’re still reeling from the events of season four, check out RadioTimes.com‘s live Q&A with Alexander Dreymon, Eliza Butterworth and Nigel Marchant, where we discuss all the major developments.