This week I was invited to a special screening of episodes 1 & 2 of the TV show Vikings to mark the first season DVD and Blu-ray release. The screening was held at the British Museum which, on 6th March, will host a Vikings exhibition. After the screening we were lucky enough to enjoy a Q&A with the show’s writer Michael Hirst and cast member George Blagden who plays Athlestan and also appeared in Les Miserables and Immortals.
I learnt some really interesting things in the Q&A, not just about the show, but about the Vikings in general. Here are just a few of the things that I discovered:
Michael Hirst was writing a scrip about Alfred the Great who fought the Vikings when he was asked to write a series about the enemy. He had more excitement and interest from friends and family about the latter subject that he switched to it
Michael Hirst spoke to a Swedish professor at Harvard University who said that the show is the first time that his history and religion has been taken seriously
George Blagden really did shave his head to play a Monk – that is dedication to the job to walk around with a deliberate bald patch
What we know of the Vikings was written by the Monks, so technically a biased view
They weren’t allowed to film the show in Norway as the country only allows filming in its native tongue, so only wild footage for the show was captured there
The scene where we see the men wash their faces and blow the snot from their noses into the bowl is true to Viking tradition. They were seen as grubby men, but in fact they liked to be clean to be attractive to the women
The horned helmets are a stereotype and myth of the Vikings!
According to Michael Hirst, compared to the Saxons (which they fight later in the show) the Vikings come out rather well – he is implying they are not as brutal or as violent as the Saxons
Michael prides himself on the fact that his characters have a moral complexity. Essentially the show is about a family and their life. It focuses on a man who loves his wife and his children and also has problems with his boss and brother
The show has lots of theories about which gods the characters are connected to. George highlighted that the marketing team at History (the channel that makes the show) are the best he has ever experienced. They have a detailed document for each character and the god they are linked to.
I really enjoyed the Vikings series, and whilst it is violent it is nothing compared to Game of Thrones and that is a good thing. I found the evening so interesting that I will be heading to the exhibition when it opens on 6th March. Apparently if you attend you will see the biggest Viking ship ever found. Vikings series one is out now to buy on DVD and Blu-ray.
I also have to say thank you to the British Museum for my Viking rubber duck, my desk is looking like I’m obsessed with the Nordics now!