James Norton & Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to Lead 11th Century Drama 'King & Conqueror'

James Norton in "Grantchester" and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in "Game of Thrones"

James Norton in "Grantchester" and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in "Game of Thrones"

Photos: Courtesy of Lovely Day Productions & ITV for MASTERPIECE // Helen Sloan/HBO

Grantchester alum James Norton is set to star opposite Game of Thrones favorite Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the forthcoming historical drama King and Conqueror, a period piece set in the 11th century and focused on the lives of the two men destined to meet in a battle that will shape the identity of a country --- and the future of a continent.

Norton  will play Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, also known as Harold II, who was the brother-in-law of Edward the Confessor and the last crowned Anglo-Saxon English king. Harold only ruled for a scant nine months before his death at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. (Popular myth says he was slain via an arrow through the eye, but this is a subject of some debate among historians.) Coster-Waldau is set to star as William, Duke of Normandy, otherwise known as William the Conqueror, the man who defeated Harold to become the first Norman king of England, and whose reign ushered in profound political, social, and administrative changes, bringing about seismic shifts in the worlds of the Church, the aristocracy, the government, and even in the country's language. But King and Conqueror doesn't sound as though it will concern itself all that much with the aftermath of the fateful meeting between these two men on the battlefield, but with who they were beforehand, and the choices they made along the path to a face-off that would change their country forever. 

"In the U.K. we learn about William the Conqueror, the Battle of Hastings, and King Harold’s gruesome death in our school history lessons – but those headlines are all most of us can remember," Sue Deeks, head of BBC Program Acquisition said in a statement. "King and Conqueror will bring Harold and William to life, depicting their lives, loves, and families, and the gripping, high-stakes power game that led to their fateful meeting in 1066. With incredible talent both in front of and behind the camera, I cannot wait for this exciting project to be realized."

Here's the series' description. 

King and Conqueror is the story of a clash that defined the future of a country – and a continent – for a thousand years, the roots of which stretch back decades and extend out through a pair of interconnected family dynasties, struggling for power across two countries and a raging sea. Harold of Wessex and William of Normandy were two men destined to meet at the Battle of Hastings in 1066; two allies with no design on the British throne, who found themselves forced by circumstance and personal obsession into a war for possession of its crown.

“We are thrilled to partner with James, Nikolaj, Baltasar, and the entire creative team on King and Conqueror, a truly groundbreaking series with world-class talent and global reach,” Lindsey Martin, Senior Vice President of International Co-Productions and Development at CBS Studios said in a statement. “Michael’s scripts offer a bold and fresh take on a story that has endured for nearly 1,000 years, and yet the themes are as contemporary and relevant as ever. We are incredibly proud of what the team has achieved so far and can’t wait to see it all come to fruition on screen with our star-studded cast.”

The series is created and executive produced by Michael Robert Johnson (Sherlock Holmes), with Baltasar Kormákur (Everest) directing the premiere episode. Both will also serve as executive producers alongside Norton and Kitty Kaletsky for Rabbit Track Pictures, Baltasar Kormákur for RVK Studios, Robert Taylor for The Development Partnership, Dave Clarke and Richard Halliwell for Shepherd Content, and Ed Clarke, Robert Jones, Coster-Waldau and Martin.  The BBC has acquired broadcasting rights for the series on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the United Kingdom. The series will be distributed outside of this market by Paramount Global Content Distribution.

Production on King and Conqueror will commence next year in Iceland. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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