Is Uhtred Based On A Real Person? The 'Last Kingdom' Character Is An Original Addition
If you, like me, are constantly on the watch for exciting period dramas that could fill the Game of Thrones-sized hole in your life, then you've probably heard about The Last Kingdom. While there's plenty to love about this piece of historical fiction, it's the The Last Kingdom's handsome protagonist, Uhtred, I'm most interested in. Considering there are characters that draw from history on The Last Kingdom, is Uhtred based on a real person as well?
It's kind of complicated. According to a 2015 profile in The Guardian, The Last Kingdom is based on the historical fiction series written by Bernard Cornwell. Cornwell, profiled for the piece, say he was inspired by the exploits of actual Saxon king Alfred the Great. According to Screenrant, The Last Kingdom is set in ninth-century England when Alfred the Great was king and in the show, Alfred is based on him. So what about our man Uhtred, played by Alexander Dreymon?
Per The Guardian, Uhtred is described as "a Northumbrian Saxon nobleman’s son from Bebbanburg [...] who is orphaned as a child and raised by the Danish warlord who defeated his father. He grows up to become the leading warrior of Wessex, the lone Anglo-Saxon kingdom standing up against the invading Viking settlers."
Now, there was a historical figure called Uhtred the Bold who was the Earl of Northumbria — but he was born about 100 years after the actual Alfred the Great died, so they wouldn't have known of each other. In addition to that timing issue, Uhtred's family is very different on television than it was in real life. The Last Kingdom sets Uhtred up to be both Danish and Saxon in order to have him bring the two peoples together — but in real life, Uhtred the Bold wasn't raised by Danes and definitely didn't fight with them.
So Uhtred on the show is fictional, but he's definitely at least loosely based on a historical figure. There's also the fact that, according to the aforementioned Guardian profile, Cornwell's father, William Outhred, was another inspiration for the books. Uhtred and Outhred sould a lot alike, in a way, right? It could also be that the author was paying homage to his father through his fictional protagonist in both the books and the series.
Whoever he is really based on, Dreymon has fun playing him. The actor told Syfy in 2018, "Even though he is super cheeky and he can totally be a d*ck, he's very truthful, very loyal, very trustworthy." The star added, "Even though he's being tested from both sides again and again and being distrusted, the truth is that he does do what he says, and is a man of his word."
Fans of the show are anxiously waiting for Season 4 to drop on Netflix sometime in late 2019 or early 2020, according to Den of Geek. The upcoming season will divert from Cornwell's books, which at this point would include a 10 year time jump, with Uhtred close to 50 years old. Instead, the logline makes it sound like the season will pick up just where the last one ended. But who knows — as Radio Times suggests, Uhtred could return looking a little older and with some fully grown children to look out for, as he does in the book series.
In any case, fans will be happy for the Last Kingdom's return and to continue following Uhtred and the other semi-fictional characters and their stories until the end.
This post was originally published on May 5, 2017. It was updated on June 4, 2019.